City Schools To Replace Books With Computers?

The San Diego Unified School District is discussing the possibility of educators teaching without textbooks, 10News reported.

Teaching and learning could take a monumental turn as laptop computers might soon replace textbooks.

"It just doesn't make sense," said parent Michelle Fulks, whose son attends Birdrock Elementary School.

While she agreed that investing in technology is important, she feels the district's spending priorities are off.

"With them wanting to cut so many programs, including of getting rid of 22 principals and combining principals of those 22 schools to 11, it seems like a very poor decision," said Fulks.

Lisa Bonebrake has two sons at Birdrock Elementary and said she feels the same way.

"There are five school board members who are making decisions for hundreds of thousands of students and families, and we need a more transparent process," said Bonebrake.

Meanwhile, one school in the district is already leading the way when it comes to technology.

Next year, students at Millennial Tech Middle School will receive laptops, with the goal of the district to give every student from kindergarten to the 12th grade a computer.

Shawna McIntosh teaches humanities and journalism at Millennial Tech and said computers in her classroom are a big plus.

"They are so in tuned with this digital age even though it's the same information, just because it's on a computer they are more into it," said McIntosh.

10News asked the school district how it expects to pay for the laptops. A spokesman said the district will buy the computers with the money already used for textbooks. It expects to save $10 million in the long run.

Millennial Tech Principal Helen Griffith said the cost of a textbook is about $60 and each student has five books. The total cost per student is $400 per year.

"… As opposed to several thousands of textbooks following students, that laptop will follow the students," said Griffith.

The district said – without a discount for buying many -- a laptop would cost around $300.

Despite it all, some parents said books are the staple of education.

"I think that nothing will replace books, ever," said Bonebrake.

In the spirit of full disclosure, 10News is part of the McGraw-Hill Companies, which also operates a large textbook division.

Late Tuesday evening, school board members approved a measure that will have city schools transition to electronic textbooks.

The board hopes all students will eventually have laptops to access books online, saving the district money.