Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Would a cheaper textbook be of interest to you?

State news about higher education has been pretty bleak recently, but one program is bringing some relief to college students. Started by the 2009 Legislature through funding from the state and Gates Foundation, Washington has now opened the Open Course Library.
What is the Open Course Library? Rep. Reuven Carlyle spearheaded getting the state to fund its half of $1.5 million investment and wrote about it back then his blog,
Today I’d like to tell you how a ONE TIME state investment of $750,000 in precious tax dollars has the very real likelihood of turning into a $41 million savings ANNUALLY for college students in Washington. Are you awake now?
Unfortunately, tuition is only one piece of the puzzle and yet it sucks the oxygen out of the room of so many other issues that impact the ‘total cost of attendance’ for students. The best example? Every family, whether rich, poor or squarely in the middle, has the exact same sense of moral outrage staring at textbook bill that now averages more than $1,000 a year for a regular full time student.
I have long held a fascination with the ruthless cost of textbooks at our colleges and universities. One of the projects I am most proud of from my first term in the Legislature is a $750,000 appropriation that I worked very, very hard to successfully include in the 2009-2011 budget. The appropriation created an open textbook and course material program for our state’s community and technical college students.
You can read a post about the Open Course Library launch at Carlyle's blog: Beginning of the end for $100 college textbooks: Legislature, colleges, Gates Foundation partner
The Seattle Times Editorial Board also weighed in on the event:
Students who used to pay nearly $200 for a new pre-calculus textbook can pay only $20 — or use it online for free.
The $1.26 million in expected savings for the 2011-2012 school year represents real money for community-college students, who often are older and paying for their own education and living expenses.
The real prize is $41 million in annual savings if all faculty at the state's 34 community- and technical-colleges begin assigning open-source texts to their students.
Read more about this ground-breaking Washington program in this Seattle Times article, Low-cost textbooks for college students make debut.

And of course, don't forget to check out the Open Course Library's website.