Sen. Mimi Walters Seeks to Provide Digital Textbooks

Republican legislator offers bold plan for diversity and low-revenue districts

Senator Mimi Walters

Recently, the Post staff sat down with Senator Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) and discussed legislation which would increase a school district’s ability to integrate digital textbooks into California’s classrooms.  Senate Bill 185, which is scheduled to be heard on the Senate Floor in late May, addresses the technology gap between California and the rest of the nation as well as the challenges often experienced by K-12 school districts hoping to implement new cost-saving teaching tools that are more effective for teaching in today’s diverse classrooms. “Students today are more technologically aware and learn more quickly using iPads and computers than when I was I student,” stated Walters.  “We need to provide school districts the flexibility to utilize the latest in technology that will better educate and prepare our students for this ever-changing world.” The need for digital textbooks and other on-line tools is especially critical in lower-revenue districts that are too often at a disadvantage in comparison to higher-revenue districts.  She pointed out that SB 185 will enable these school districts to use technology to address the specific academic needs of each student more directly. According to Senator Walters, the bill allows school districts to negotiate the price for instructional and supplemental materials in either print or digital format.  The bill would also permit the unbundling of textbooks and supplemental materials, allowing schools districts to purchase only the materials they need. The measure allows for the creation of a database of electronic educational resources. “SB 185 will move California towards the cutting edge of education technology, and bring our state up to speed with other states that have already enacted similar measures like Florida, Maine, Washington, Utah, and Alabama”, she said. After interviewing Sen. Walters,Post publisher Paul Cobb, a former member of the Oakland School Board, said “her efforts to bridge the digital divide for lower-revenue districts is commendable and should be supported.” Senator Walters said, “SB 185 is about ensuring our schools are provided the tools and flexibility necessary to meet the diverse academic needs of our students.”
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