Friday, 19 October 2018

Students in CA draft legislation to tackle textbook costs

Inside Higher Education has a recent article about a class project by political science students at California Polytechnic State University. "They drafted legislation to see if they could get it passed by the state Legislature. The bill became law this past summer. In the process, the students learned how lawmaking works and got invaluable experience on using the political process to push for change -- even if it's only incremental change -- on a higher ed issue close to their hearts."
The issue they tackled was the high cost of textbooks. Initially, the students wanted to write legislation that would prevent publishers from publishing new editions of textbooks unless they genuinely contained new material. The class decided instead to draft a bill urging publishers to specify the differences between textbook editions and to do so prominently on their websites. Their proposal was an update to an existing bill urging publishers to take steps to reduce costs for students.
The result was California Assembly Bill 2385, which was unanimously approved by the state legislature and signed into law at the end of August.
The professor who taught the class acknowledges that the impact of the bill may be small because there aren't legal consequences for publishers who don't comply. On the other hand the bill lays out best practices for publishers and nudges them towards greater transparency.

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