Free digital book plan is costly, educators say

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger believes schools can save hundreds of millions of dollars by using free digital textbooks, but educators are disputing that notion, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The idea of free digital textbooks is nice, but given the associated technology costs and teacher training, they won’t save schools much money now or anytime soon, critics of the plan say. San Francisco schools Superintendent Carlos Garcia said the governor’s comments about efficiency were a "smokescreen," obscuring the fact that the proposed budget cuts will put California at the bottom when it comes to education spending nationwide. In addition, "technology is expensive," Garcia said, adding that the district has one technician for every 3,000 computers. The governor’s office acknowledged that "hundreds of millions of dollars" in savings isn’t going to happen this year. Yet, the governor’s initiative will give schools and teachers more flexibility and options, allowing them to print, download, or project on a screen the content that’s available digitally, said Jessica Hsiang, spokeswoman for State Secretary of Education Glen Thomas. "We are finding efficiencies and it is a way for schools to stretch their dollars," she said…

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