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Senate Committee Hears Testimony on Textbooks vs. Technology

By Lynn Hatter

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-888990.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – Education officials are asking for more flexibility in how and where they spend their money. A big part of the budget being eyed is instructional materials. There is opposition in granting that request, and at least one large industry wants to keep that funding source untouched.

During the Senate PreK-12 Committee Tuesday, lawmakers heard testimony on whether to spend money on books or technology. Associations for schools boards and superintendents support having more spending flexibility, but the textbook industry says it would like to keep a dedicated funding source for instructional materials in place. Republican Senator John Thrasher of Jacksonville had this exchange with Mary Russack, who was there representing McGraw-Hill.

"Why are you concerned about adequate funding?"
"Maybe it's the fact that I had children who went through the school system in Florida, and I taught for much longer than I've worked in publishing."
"And it's not because you're a representative of McGraw-Hill?"

McGraw-Hill is one of the largest producers of school books in the country. Education officials wanted and were granted flexibility in spending last year. They are asking the Legislature to increase that flexibility this year.