Local teachers not sold on digital textbooks

Traditional textbooks could soon be a thing of the past. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to replace old math and science books, with new digital ones, in an effort to save the state millions of dollars.
Heavy old textbooks could soon be replaced with a digital device.  It's a digital book and the governor wants that to be in students' backpacks by the start of the school year.

Teachers say there are both advantages and disadvantages to digital textbooks.  The Sony reader can hold up to 160 digital books.  It's lightweight but it's also not as durable as a textbook.

The retail price for most digital readers is about $300. Textbooks at Bakersfield High cost around $50 each and depending on wear-and-tear, can last years.

Stan Greene, Assistant Principal, Bakersfield High School said, "We could get five years at least out of an algebra book if it was well taken care of.  You know the flip side to that, if there's an update or newer book, we could download it every year."

Incoming senior Tony Garza thinks the digital trend will be challenging in certain classes.  "It would be harder for science. Because when we write it out for science, actually writing it out helps re-enter it in your mind over and over again."

Some teachers say the idea sounds great, but might be more costly for the state. "With the economy right now, obviously it would be a huge cost to get the materials, but also to train the teachers, to train the students to make sure they know how to use it properly," said Bakersfield High School teacher Kristina Fierro.

Fierro also worries not all of her students, especially in lower level classes, have the tools they need once they leave the classroom.  "I would say out of a class of 30, maybe ten or less, and that's maybe, I would shoot for five, have a computer at home."

The governor hasn't given many details about the program, but so far the digital addition isn't looking like a subtraction for California's budget.

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