Senate Overwhelmingly Approves Steinberg Measures to Slash Costs of College Textbooks, Bills Sent to Governor
California college students stand to save thousands of dollars in text book costs under two measures that have passed both houses of the Legislature and will now be sent to the Governor’s office for his signature. The two measures by Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg will create Open Educational Resources for the UC, CSU and California Community College systems, where undergraduate students would have free digital access to 50 core textbooks for use in lower-division courses.
The two companion bills, SB 1052 and SB 1053, cleared their final hurdle with resounding bipartisan support in the Senate to concur with Assembly amendments. The Senate approved SB 1052 by a vote of 38 – 0. SB 1053 passed 33 – 0.
“This is a great victory for students and middle class families struggling with the ever-increasing costs of higher education,” said Steinberg. “Many students are paying more than $1,000 every year on their textbooks, sometimes having to choose between buying the books they need or paying for food and other living expenses. This is a major step toward using technology to cut costs for students while enhancing the quality of higher education in California.”
SB 1052 provides for development of digital textbooks for the 50 strategically chosen lower division college courses. This bill also creates the California Open Education Resources Council, comprised of faculty members from each of the state’s public college and university systems, to develop the list of courses, create and oversee the approval process for the digital materials, and to establish a process whereby faculty, publishers, and other interested parties may apply through a competitive bidding process to bring forward the 50 open source textbooks and related materials.
The companion measure, SB 1053, creates the California Digital Open Source Library
to house the digital open source textbooks and related materials. There will be no mandate for faculty to adopt any particular textbook for their course, and existing open education resources that meet quality specifications may also be used.
Using a computer or mobile device, students will be able to access the textbooks through the digital open source library with the option of buying a printed version for around $20. The materials would be placed under a “Creative Commons” licensing structure that not only allows students and faculty free access, but would also allow instructors to create customized materials from the textbooks and other courseware. The California Open Education Resources Council will review and approve the textbooks and materials to ensure they meet the rigorous standards of college core curricula. The Council will also report to the legislature and the Governor on the progress of implementing the program.