Total Pageviews

Search This Blog

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Say goodbye to textbooks

From the St. Petersburg Times

by Marlene Sokol

Get ready to say goodbye to bulky books. There's a move to go all-digital in Florida classrooms.

State education officials rolled out a five-year proposal this week that calls for all students in K-12 to use only "electronic materials" delivered by Kindles, iPads and other similar technology by 2015.

"This project reinvents the way students learn and will revolutionize instruction in Florida," says the plan presented to the state Board of Education Tuesday. Both Senate and House education committees will have hearings on the subject today.

"Digital is here. We can choose to ignore it, or we can choose to embrace it," said David Simmons, chairman of the Senate Pre-K-12 Appropriations Subcommittee. He predicted legislation would be filed after another round of committee meetings.

Many states, including Florida, are experimenting with schools going partially digital. Clearwater High School went a step further this fall, handing out Kindles to all students to use instead of textbooks.

But in the proposal, all Florida districts would begin phasing in digital-only content, first for high school students and then for all others in reading, math, science, history and language arts.

Lawmakers and state education leaders said Wednesday they were both intrigued and cautious. The proposal sparked questions about costs, capacity and whether districts were technologically advanced.

"We need robust technology... not something that is antiquated," said state Board of Education member Dr. Akshay Desai, whose three children do their reading on iPads. "We don't want something that works so slowly that the children will laugh at it."

DOE officials were not available to talk about the proposal.

Rep. Marty Kiar of Davie, the ranking Democrat on the House Pre-K-12 Appropriations Committee, said he welcomed the digital discussion but raised questions about access.

"What happens to children who are low-income or who don't have a computer?'' he asked.

Longtime Marianna educator Marti Coley, a Republican who chairs the House Pre-K-12 committee, had similar concerns. She views her committee's hearing on the plan today as a needed step.

"I want to be educated on every step of the plan," Coley said. "What are we doing to ensure that our rural communities will be able to keep up?"

Just last year, lawmakers — particularly those from more rural areas and Coley among them — balked at proposals to let school districts spend textbook funds on media technology because they worried that students did not have enough access to textbooks.

Those budget conversations in many ways laid the groundwork for this year's debate.

Simmons, at least, loves the idea. "When people across the nation look at Florida, they look to a Florida that is on the cutting edge, to be respected and looked up to," he said.

It makes sense, then, to look into how to make the move from spending about $220 million a year on paper books to a computerized format, he said.

"It is not something you do without planning."

DOE's proposal estimates the state would spend $700,000 a year to assist school districts and evaluate the materials. But it did not indicate how districts would pay for student computers or e-readers, much less make sure each student had access to online material.

Hillsborough County chief school technology officer David Steele said he would expect the initial costs of the conversion in the schools to be substantial.

But "where you save is on the replacement costs," Steele said. Even if a child loses his school-issued e-reader, "the price is barely more than one textbook," he said.

Pinellas school officials, who recently spent $1 million in outfitting schools with iPads, say if the state does adopt digital-only materials they will be better prepared having already dealt with replacing textbooks with Kindles at Clearwater High.

The first time all the students fired up their Kindles, they overwhelmed an AT&T cell tower, said John Just, assistant superintendent for management information systems.

It's also been hard to keep students away from inappropriate websites, he said, and some teachers have resisted the new format. "We answer that with training," Just said.

At the same time, Just also has heard from students about the benefits of using technology with a generation that practically lives digitally. Particularly struggling students.

On a recent visit to the campus, one student told Just, "this is the first time I ever read an entire book."

Marlene Sokol can be reached at or (813) 226-3356.


  1. Stop Wireless - If you are a parent or teacher and you care about your kids, get that deadly WIFI out of the schools NOW, otherwise youll be dealing with many sick kids soon enough. Its already happening. If that doesnt scare you, the real life events WILL when they arrive where you are, dont say you were not warned. Do something now!

  2. More depressing news...mantra 'Bauhaus' people...
    "Less is More"...
    This technology is speculative, untested, and the information and research that I have read all points to a similar endgame scenario...A degradation and weakening of our health and social service delivery systems in the long term...
    Yes, in the short term it seems more beneficial, convenient, etc...Oh, and of course....TRENDY!!

    Lets all take a step back and do the due diligence on this and then make an informed decision!

    Thank you

  3. State education officials rolled out a five-year proposal this week that calls for all students in K-12 to use only "electronic materials" delivered by Kindles, iPads and other similar technology by 2015.YOU WILL BE SORRY!!!

  4. Dr. Magda Havas, a scientist in this field who has testified as an expert witness, shows that exposure to low-level microwave radiation, such as that from wireless devices, affects the red blood cells in living human beings. The cells form pearl chains, otherwise known as rouleaux formation. This test is in vivo (done on a live person), not in vitro (done in a test-tube).

  5. Dr. Havas and Dr. Marrongelle did an experiment with a DECT phone operating at 2.45 GHz, the same frequency as some WiFi systems, and demonstrated that the heart rhythms of some people are disrupted by the exposure.

    The entire study is published in the "European Journal of Oncology" - Library Vol. 5 of the National Institute for the Study and Control of Cancer and Environmental Diseases "Bernardo Ramazzini", Bologna, Italy, 2010, Part I, page 273. The entire volume is devoted to the biological effects from exposure electromagnetic fields.

  6. Wireless gadgets for kids, not only create a huge distraction but they are a serious health threat.

    More and more children are becoming electro-sensitive surrounded by these high frequency microwave emissions. Children from schools in Ontario have had to drop out and home school because of complaints such as migraine headaches, nausea,and even seizures brought on after Wireless routers were installed in their school. Wireless technology is like the "cigarette" of the 21st century and will kill many before the health risks are acknowledged.

  7. My mother,Clare T. Newberryk internationally published author/illustrator of twenty children's books would be horrified, as am I.

    Forty years after her death, I still get fan mail from grandmothers, mothers, and children who treasure having her BOOK to look at and to pass down.

    As a student of neuroscience, I know that handling a book stimulates huge areas of the brain.

    I also know that studies show that persons who sit four hours or more in front of a monitor or TV have a 4 times higher risk of dying of heart disease--with no variations from weight, diet or exercise.

    This is a new technology. Rather than seeking glory in being "cutting edge," you could study the leukemia deaths of children in Bayville and just research the unpublicized dangers of unwise use of cell phones, etc. The data is still coming in.

  8. Equal opportunity and access for all students has always been a very important social justice question; however, even more important is the fundamental right to good health. It is appalling and quite frankly criminal (future courts will decide) how school officials continue to blatantly ignore the growing scientific evidence that proves wireless radiation (radio frequency, microwave radiation) from cell towers, cell phones and Wi-Fi technology alters brain function, affects behaviour, and causes serious biological effects i.e. blood brain barrier leakage, calcium efflux changes, DNA breaks, chromosome alterations, etc. With prolonged exposure neuro degenerative diseases and cancer rates significantly increase as demonstrated by industry, independent and military studies.

    Studies such as Ecolog (T-Mobile) and Reflex (EU) found cells are damaged comparatively to that of X-rays when comet assay tests were examined following cell phone exposure, resulting in recommendations for the public and special precautions for children. The European Parliament acted on this in 2009 with the adoption of the ‘Precautionary Principle’ that would see the reduction of public exposure through requirements set on mast placement, power output, wired alternatives where possible (schools), parent advisories and restrictions on children’s advertisements.

    Why would we want to use Wi-Fi routers that blanket entire schools with this same radiation, only it never gets turned off, and use wireless devices (laptops, ipads, kindles, etc) in close proximity to young children’s reproductive organs and brains rather like cell phones when we know serious harm can come?

    Can school officials honestly say they are acting responsibly while continuing to ignore health warnings from credible scientists and health agencies around the world recommending children should avoid non ionizing radiation exposure wherever possible to prevent unnecessary risk?


    • Vienna Resolution 1998
    • Salzburg Resolution 2000
    • Declaration of Alcalá 2002
    • Catania Resolution 2002
    • Freiburger Appeal 2002
    • Bamberger Appeal 2004
    • Maintaler Appeal 2004
    • Coburger Appeal 2005
    • Stockacher Appeal 2005
    • Oberammergauer Appeal 2005
    • Haibacher Appeal 2005
    • Pfarrkirchener Appeal 2005
    • Freienbacher Appeal 2005
    • Lichtenfelser Appeal 2005
    • Hofer Appeal 2005
    • Helsinki Appeal 2005
    • Parish Kirchner Appeal 2005
    • Saarlander Appeal 2005
    • Benevento Resolution 2006
    • Allgäuer Appeal 2006
    • WiMax Appeal 2006
    • Brussels Appeal 2007
    • Schlüchterner appeal
    • Venice Resolution 2008
    • Berlin Appeal 2008
    • Paris Appeal 2009
    • London Resolution 2009
    • Porto Alegre Resolution 2009
    • European Parliament
    • EMF Resolution 2009
    • Dutch Appeal 2009
    • Int’l Appeal of Würzburg 2010
    • Copenhagen Resolution 2010

    Our children deserve a bright future. Let us learn from our past mistakes that have shown industry short sighted ventures often lead to lasting negative consequences for our future generations. Let our children be the first to receive protection.