is cool. Laptops are cooler than desktops. Tiny flip phones
are cooler than the older, larger cell phones. Blackberries
and Sidekicks combine the coolness of laptops and tiny phones.
Mini Coopers are in, though I’m not quite sure why. Even
personal miniaturization in the form of anorexia appears to
be cool---at least if the covers of People and US magazine
are a good barometer.
like anorexia, the quest for miniaturization can sometimes
be harmful and shortsighted. A bill that recently passed the
floor of the Assembly is a perfect example. AB 756 by Assemblywoman
Jackie Goldberg would require school textbooks to be miniaturized.
In much the same way as the bill a few years ago that would
have had textbooks selected by weight rather than content,
this bill would prohibit school boards from approving textbooks
that are more than 200 pages long.
Haynes is an Assembly member representing Riverside
and Temecula. He serves on the Appropriations and
Budget Committees. [go to Assembly Member Haynes website
at California Assembly][go to Haynes index]
this is in direct conflict with the legislature’s
previous mandates that created a long list of content standards
that require the coverage and inclusion of many topics, ideas,
and of course, “diverse” viewpoints in every subject.
It also contradicts the trend in textbook selection that highly
values lots of pretty pictures, human interest stories, trivia,
large and colorful print, cartoons, and other devices designed
to hold the attention of our ADD-addled children and avoid the
long stretches of boring text that will put them to sleep.
vision is that the new textbooks would merely contain the basic
highlights of the required content standards
and then students would be directed to web addresses where students
could find more detail and analysis of their own.
As a former Los Angeles school board member herself, Ms. Goldberg
ought to know that not every family has a computer hooked up
to the internet. There are also far more families with two or
three or four children in school than there are with two or three
of four computers to serve them, so they could all do their homework
at the same time. Then when you consider how many children are
doing their homework on soccer fields and in the hallways of
gymnastics and karate studios, you quickly see how the idea becomes
unworkable. Even if a child has easy access to a computer, one
hour of homework can quickly turn into four hours when you log
on the net to do it. Even as an adult it is difficult to stay
focused on the task at hand when there are so many interesting
diversions and distractions available with just the click of
several predictable results from this bill if it becomes law.
will no longer be able to assign many classical
novels in literature classes. Children will be very unlikely
to actually seek out the supplemental on-line material and will
instead rely on what will essentially be the “Cliff’s
Notes” version of the dumbed down textbooks we already
have. Also likely is that textbook makers will have to break
one large textbook into two smaller ones, at an increased cost
to schools. Two hundred pages are simply insufficient for many
subjects. In a normal school year that is only a little over
a page per school day that could be assigned. Publishers will
end up creating fall and spring semester texts separately, to
the benefit of nobody.
I know miniaturization
is cool, and I know with the latest health crisis being childhood
obesity, everyone wants to figure
out how to reduce the size of objects and people alike. But the
answer to bloated and unhealthy children is not bulimia, and
the answer to bloated and unhealthy schools isn’t anorexic
tiny textbooks. CRO
Haynes is a California Assembleyman representing Riverside
and Temecula and frequent contributor to CaliforniaRepublic.org.