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DAVIS (OCT. 3) – Today, two larger-than-life textbook mascot characters joined forces with students at UC Davis to rally support for solutions to the rapidly rising cost of textbooks. The mascots visited campus as part of a six-week, cross-country tour organized by the ‘Textbook Rebellion,’ a coalition of students, faculty and organizations in support of affordable textbooks that CALPIRG helped launch earlier this year.
"Textbook prices have been skyrocketing more than four times the rate of inflation, and it’s become a serious issue for many students and their families,” said Donna Farvard, CALPIRG Vice Chair. “However, solutions are out there. Between used books, rental programs and longer-term alternatives like open textbooks, there is potential to reduce costs dramatically – we just need to raise awareness.”
Over the next two months, the Textbook Rebellion will visit 40 campuses nationwide collecting signatures on a petition that will help educate professors about affordable options and call on decision-makers to support cost-reducing solutions. The petition specifically highlights ‘open textbooks,’ part of the growing movement for Open Educational Resources, which are learning materials made freely available for everyone to use.
“Open Educational Resources are critical in helping us meet the President’s 2020 goal: to make America number one in the world for college graduates,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a statement released at the launch of the Textbook Rebellion tour. “These free resources can create high- quality educational opportunities for students, veterans and returning workers, grow our economy, and help us out-educate, out-innovate and outcompete the rest of the world.”
Photo: Mascots ‘Textbook Rebel’ (left) and 'Mr. $200 Textbook’ (right) and are touring the country to raise support for textbook affordability. Credit: Textbook Rebellion, distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. For more photo options and sizes, email firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.flickr.com/textbookrebellion.
The event at UC Davis generated 450 petition signatures. The campaign is on track to meet its national goal of 10,000 signatures by mid-October.
“In an economy where a college degree is often required for securing a stable job, course materials ought to be affordable so that students have the necessary tools to learn and earn their bachelor's,” said Annemarie Stone, ASUCD Academic Affairs Commission Chair.
The latest research from CALPIRG underscores the urgent need to reduce textbook costs. An alarming 70% of students surveyed this spring reported not purchasing one or more of their assigned textbooks because the cost was too high. Of those students, 78% said they generally believed that they would do worse in their courses without the required materials.
“"Personally, I feel taken advantage of,” said CJ Wilson, CALPIRG Chapter Chair. “Not only do I have to buy new textbooks every quarter, but I can't even sell them back because the unnecessary edition changes. Thankfully, CALPIRG is now part of a huge movement to give students their buying power back."
The College Board estimates that the average student will spend $1,137 on textbooks each year. The Government Accountability Office found that textbook costs are comparable to 26% of tuition at public four-year colleges and 72% of tuition at community colleges. Unnecessary new editions, expensive bundles and e-books that expire are common publishing industry tactics that have been found to increase costs.
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CALPIRG, the California Public Interest Research Group, is a statewide student funded and directed public interest group that works on issues related to the environment, consumer protection and government reform. To learn more, visit www.CALPIRGStudents.org. To learn more about the national network of Student PIRGs, visit www.StudentPIRGs.org.
Textbook Rebellion is a movement of students, faculty and others affected by the high cost of textbooks working toward affordable solutions. Coalition members include the Student PIRGs, Flat World Knowledge, Campus Progress, Rock the Vote and Worldwide Center of Mathematics. For more information, visit www.TextbookRebellion.org.
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