The California Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC), chaired by Assembly Member Ricardo Lara (D – Bell Gardens), will hold a hearing today to investigate the high cost of college textbooks and the potential for e-textbooks to cut costs and increase access to higher education.
Textbook prices have increased considerably over the last four years, at four times the rate of inflation. The average annual cost for college textbooks is now $ 1,260. At California’s community colleges, attended by more than 2.8 million students, textbook costs make up 75 percent of total student expenditures. On average, publishers release a new edition every three years, with each one costing 12 percent more than the last.
State Auditor Elaine Howle will present an audit report on the affordability of college textbooks, followed by testimony from representatives of California’s three public systems of higher education, Academic Senate presidents, Cal PIRG, publishers and non-profit foundations.
“We want to explore what California’s three public higher education systems have done to help students with these unmanageable book costs since the report was issued 900 days ago,” said Lara. “The state auditor’s report strongly suggested new education technology solutions as a way to lower the cost, and we are hitting the ‘refresh button’ to let students know we have not forgotten about them.”
Non-profit 20 Million Minds Foundation has been working on making college more affordable by lowering the cost of textbooks and recently unveiled an “open source” Collaborative Statistics e-textbook, available at Kno.com, which is free and available to professors to adopt, providing students with an interactive experience using videos, applets, graphics, exercises and a variety of navigation and enhancement features.
“California can do better by offering our students quality, free and open access to college textbooks.” – Dean Florez President 20 Million Minds Foundation and past Senate Majority Leader California
“It is unacceptable that students are dropping out of class because they can’t afford a textbook. This hearing comes at a time when students are wondering whether legislators are even aware of the high costs of textbooks. It is a hearing long overdue,” he explained.
The State Auditor’s report can be found at: http://www.bsa.ca.gov/pdfs/reports/2007-116.pdf.