Open textbook saves money and increase educational diversity with high-quality, up-to-date, learning options

Crawfish Festival
New York Daily News
Jun 29, 2020

Editor’s Note: Textbook prices have increased 4x faster than the rate of inflation since 2006. The costs have increased so bad that many higher-ed students say they use financial aid money to buy textbooks. …

The average cost of textbooks is roughly $1168…

As an author of three books, a state lawmaker and even as a returning college graduate student I can honestly say that higher ed turns a blind eye to many of the student’s plight. The administration is severely disconnected from the needs of our college students–I have personally witnessed many things in higher does that no business would ever do from excessive fees, increased bureaucracy,parking tickets, late fees and more.

Last year I witnessed the university president receive a $52,000 pay raise while they also raise college tuition, which the total college tuition debt has reached almost $1.7 Trillion…the silence from leaders is deafening. (I feel like adding a few expletives to this article but I won’t).


Facing $800 million in proposed cuts to public schools, New York City is slated to continue spending $84 million a year on textbooks. That number is staggering, especially given that many of the textbooks are older than the teachers using them, largely Eurocentric and in some cases dictated by partisan politics.

Door to a new world of knowledge.
Door to a new world of knowledge. (John Minchillo/AP)

We can make these learning materials more reflective of New York City’s diversity and put limited resources to better use by adopting open textbooks.

More commonly known as “open educational resources” (OER), open textbooks are free for educators to use, customize to their students’ needs and backgrounds and share with others. Open textbooks are freely available from nonprofit groups like CK12, OER Commons and OpenStax, and many are peer-reviewed and vetted for quality.

When students see themselves reflected in their learning materials, they are more successful in school and more inspired about their futures. Open educational resources allow teachers to better cater materials to their students’ experiences, incorporating up-to-date, real-world examples. This September, both the pandemic and the recent protests against racism will be top of mind for students. With open textbooks, teachers can easily incorporate information on COVID-19 and discussions about racial justice into their materials, to connect the realities outside of the classroom with the learning goals of the day.

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