Texas school districts ravaged by Hurricane Harvey still need thousands of textbooks, dictionaries and other instructional resources, so the state’s education agency is borrowing a page from the wedding industry to help cover the costs.
The Texas Education Agency has modified its textbook ordering system to create a “wedding registry” of sorts where districts can list the textbooks they need to replace those damaged in the storm.
Textbook publishers, individuals or organizations can then donate the books, as can school districts that have excess inventory.
“It was very clear that a lot of people lost a great amount of instructional materials, including textbooks,” Commissioner of Education Mike Morath said. “If you consider the scale of Harvey, (the registry) is not solving everyone’s problems, but it is helping in places.”
The registry is meant to match districts in need with those willing to donate, and officials say those donations will free up money to cover other costs, such as rebuilding schools.
But some question the approach, expressing concerns over delays in instruction as schools wait for the textbooks to arrive, and the impact that will have on student learning.
“If we had books that have been destroyed, then the state needs to step up and take care of that problem,” said Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, who chairs the House Public Education Committee.
So far, 14 districts have created needs-lists in the state’s registry, including Humble, Sheldon and Pasadena school districts.
You can see the registry page here. I mean, I have no problem with providing a way for districts that have surplus supplies to give them to those that need them, but that should not be the first avenue of recourse. Students need textbooks and other such materials today – remember, their standardized test scores are still going to count. As Rep. Huberty says, the districts should just buy what they need and send the bill to the state. Admittedly, I can understand why they might be skittish about that, but if there’s one time where public opinion should be overwhelmingly on their side, this would be it. Let’s not waste any time here.