Micromanaging textbook size

California schools couldn’t buy textbooks longer than 200 pages under a bill that passed the Assembly yesterday.

Its sponsor, LA Democrat Jackie Goldberg, wants short textbooks with lists of web sites where students can get more information. Publishers warn schools will have to buy several books to cover the same material that’s now in a single book.

Does this really have to be decided by state legislators?

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  1. I won’t speak for other subjects, but high school math textbooks were certainly smaller in my day (early 80s) than the ones I teach from today. Then again, today’s are chock full of pretty pictures that are at most tangentially to the topic, a few nods to multiculturalism, and lots of wide margins.

    These books could have the same content with half the weight if they just got rid of the crap. How much do textbooks in Singapore weigh? How big are they? How do their students perform?

  2. AndyJoy says:

    I agree that too much extra “junk” is added to textbooks.

    My high school accounting teacher had used the same books for 3 years, so the publishing company was urging him to have the school buy the “latest edition.” My teacher handed me the free copy and asked me to look through it and see what the differences were and give him my opinion. Basically, the content was the same, but they’d added a bunch of big glossy photos of business people (90% minorities) with touchy-feely happy stories about how they had succeeded in business/accounting. I thought it made the book harder to read and distracted from the content.

  3. My copy of the California State Constitution, published by the State Senate, and which also includes the US Constitution, the Magna Carta, the Act admitting California to the US, etc., is 233 pages long.

  4. AndyJoy –

    I completely agree with you about textbooks with all those pictures and insets. It makes it darn hard to stay with the primary text. (Assuming, of course, the primary text is actually worth reading.)

  5. Why do I have a sinking feeling that at least one of the stated reasons behind this (and no, I’m not going to register for the SacBee just to find out what a legislator thinks — I’d rather snark) isn’t cutting fluff but cutting weight because books are too heavy and are causing back problems for children?

  6. nicksmama says:

    I homeschool, but I have seen some of the texts handed out to Virginia elementary school kids, and they are HEAVY with the exception of the math texts(which are workbooks of about 180 pages). The social studies and science books are broken down into chapters that IMHO could be made into easy to carry, consumable workbooks of 50 -60 pages each.

    But wait a minute! If they made them into workbooks and there needed to be revisions to certain chapters, then the text book publishers would only need to revise one workbook and sell the schools new versions of that single workbook — just think of the money they’d loose not having to sell a whole new 400 page hardback….duh.

    BTW, we use Singapore Math. The textsbooks/teacher’s guide and workbooks are 8 1/2 x 11 paperbacks, about 80 pages each and cost about $30 a year.

  7. Mr. Davis says:

    Does this really have to be decided by legislators? YES!

    He who pays the piper picks the tune. When parents have a problem and the unresponsive union refuses to addres it, their only recourse is the legislators who hold the purse strings. Give the parnets the power of payment and the problem disappears overnight as nicksmama demonstrates.

  8. Mr. Davis:

    Unresponsive union? This isn’t a union issue at all–at least, it shouldn’t be.

    Michael Tinkler:

    You have to know about Jackie Goldberg, the legislator who initiated this bill. She isn’t concerned one whit about the weight of books. She doesn’t like *standards* at all, and wants to go to CPM-type workbooks that don’t have any content.

  9. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Hang in there – the $100 laptop is just around the corner. No more books, and CD city!

  10. BadaBing says:

    The name Jackie Goldberg throws up a red flag as big as the side of a barn. This is the same lefty moron who keeps trying to get rid of our mascot, the Braves. There’s something insidious about this bill, and I’d like to know what she’s really up to.

  11. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    Only a teacher in L.A.(like me) who for years watched the inane and harmful Jackie Goldberg poison the LAUSD with her Leftist dogma and idiotic motions…then to be elected to the state Assembly, to continue with her thumbing-the-nose and giving-the-bird to Calif. taxpayers, parents and students….can just smile painfully and wonder why the morons in her district keep reelecting her. Dumbing down the textbooks is just the tip of the iceberg…we can also thank her for promoting ‘bilingual’ (monolingual Spanish) ejucashun for many years and ensuring that your 6 yr old fully understands and appreciate the homosexual ‘lifestyle’, without parental consent. She also wanted to make it easier to keep bad apple teachers around by introducing legislation last fall that extended the stull evalution from every other year to 5 years or more. I could go on, but the nausea is starting to build. Californians, wake up!

  12. Mr. Davis says:


    The unions have the schools boards in thier hip pocket through electoral activism and have the management fully staffed with former union members. Nothing that occurs at government schools is not a union issue. It wouldn’t surprise me if the union is getting kickbacks from the two brick text book manafacturers for permission to let their products into the class room.