Oklahoma state senator files bill to increase spending for textbooks, instructional materials

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OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma state senator is hoping her proposed bill would put more money in Oklahoma classrooms.

Sen. Mary Boren filed Senate Bill 206, which would increase the per pupil amount for textbooks and other instructional materials, like e-books, software and other related materials.

Boren, a former educator, said the bill would increase the per pupil amount from $55 to $200.

“When I worked for the Department of Education in 2001, the state was providing $55 per student.  Even though costs have risen dramatically since then, that amount is still just $55—plus, during the economic downturn, districts were given the ability to redirect those funds to other areas,” said Boren, D-Norman. “The combined result is school after school with tattered, outdated and insufficient textbooks and instructional materials and teachers and supporters being forced to plead for donations.  If we want our children to be able to compete, they need current textbooks and materials.  Forcing teachers and supporters to turn to outside fundraising may help in wealthier districts, but in many communities throughout the state, the resources simply aren’t there and our children are not getting the instructional materials they need to succeed. After looking at other states and visiting with Oklahoma teachers and administrators, it’s clear that $200 is a much more accurate reflection of the actual cost of instructional materials.”

Boren said that her bill simply builds on the work that was accomplished last year with the teacher pay raise measures.

“The vision for our public schools was that all children would have an equitable educational opportunity but without adequate state support it cannot happen,” Boren said.

The bill would also expand textbook selection committees at the local level to make sure teachers from each school are included in the process.

“Those committees are evaluating material for every grade level, but under the current structure, you may or may not have teachers from all grade levels included,” Boren said.  “My language will include teachers from each district’s elementary, middle and high schools on those textbook committees.”

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