Way back in 1876, the founders of Texas set up a fund - the Permanent School Fund, which now holds $20 billion is assets and generates $800 million a year for textbooks and other materials.
Some in the state Legislature want to change the rules and allow the fund to spend some of that money on technology. Rep. Kent Grusendorf introduced a bill to that effect in the state House, but it died in the Senate. The measure came under attack because it was partially authored by an Apple Computer executive. And Grusendorf lost his bid for re-election.
The bid worried the Fund, however, and Geraldine "Tincy" Miller, the state board of ed's chairwoman, wanted it to be known once and for all that, as in 1876 so now, the Texas Permanent School Fund is for books not bytes. She asked the state attorny general to rule on the use of the money for hardware and Greg Abbott responded: No, the Houston Chronicle reports.
Funds designated for textbooks "must be used exclusively for the purpose of conveying information, including curriculum content, to students."
This pleases Tincy. "I'm absolutely delighted in the answer to the question that we asked," she said. "I think it once and for all defines that instructional content material is a textbook or software. It is not a device, a piece of equipment or hardware."
Hmm, but if we want to search for information, or look for similar material, or find definitions, or be alerted when new information becomes available, we need a device. By Tincy's logic, devices have little value to the mission of schools. So, doctors and lawyers will also happily avoid buying new laptops because they don't actually provide any information?
Miller said she hopes the Legislature will increase the technology allotment using funds other than the Permanent School Fund.
She said the forefathers of Texas wanted students to have books they could take home and that the whole family could read.
"Nothing is more precious than a book," she said.
Or maybe the early Texans wanted their children to have the most effective and robust education their money could buy.