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Terminating textbooks, with extreme prejudice

As many of you probably already know, the state of California is dealing with one of its worst ever fiscal crises, and governator Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing a number of emergency measures to deal with the $24-billion deficit. His latest idea, according to The Daily Mail, is to join the digital publishing revolution by banning the use of textbooks in schools.

Jokingly telling a press conference that large books are now only suitable to be used for weightlifting (biceps curls in particular), he said: “Textbooks are outdated, in my opinion. For so many years, we’ve been trying to teach the kids exactly the same way. Our kids get their information from the internet, downloaded onto their iPods, and in Twitter feeds to their cell phones … Basically, kids are feeling as comfortable with their electronic devices as I was with my pencils and crayons.”

“So why are California’s school students still forced to lug around antiquated, heavy, expensive textbooks?”

State officials say the average price of a textbook is $75 to $100, whereas digital media can be distributed cheaply if the required infrastructure is in place.

Unfortunately, Arnie never addresses the matter of having to buy handheld reading devices for all of the state’s less well-off children, nor does he address the costs of digitization and who will be paying for it. Also, why stop at textbooks? Why not close down all the schools and have teachers instruct their pupils via BlackBerry?