Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Dumb Regulations that Dumb Down Education

Leave it to California. The New York Times ran a story about Gray Davis signing a bill banning textbooks that exceed a specified weight limit. Assuming that they don’t want to see the books dumbed down (I know, it is a big assumption) the move must be intended in part to get publishers to produce multivolume books. This will have two consquences: 1) the books will be more expensive; 2) the students’ backpacks will likely be even heavier. Why the last: because teachers tend to jump around in textbooks, which will likely require students to carry multiple volumes to each class. Thus, the weight of the books may actually increase. Another fine example of regulatory stupidity.

Discussions - 2 Comments

This kerfuffle about textbook weight looks to me like trying to ease the symptoms while ignoring the underlying disease.

Shouldn’t we be at least somewhat concerned about how we got to a point where, apparently, it’s standard procedure for students to carry around all of their books all of the time?

Seems like that’s a problem no matter how much the textbooks weigh.

I agree with Jay Van Nostrand that they are trying to indirectly address the problem. The core issue seems to arise from the elimination of lockers--a move admittedly done to reduce the number of places to stash drugs and weapons. So now you have kids carrying all their books, which is not necessarily trivial. The problem is that you then enter a regulatory morass: California has extensive content requirements for textbooks, which have caused the size of books to balloon. Not they have added a countervailing weight limitation. The only solution seems to be to split the books into multivolumes, or to exclude materials. My fear is that they will do both--making already lacking history books, for example, all the more lacking.

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