Baltimore school board OKs $3 million in new textbooks

April 21, 1999|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore school board voted last night to spend nearly $3 million for new math and science textbooks for high schools, one of its largest textbook purchases for secondary schools in years.

In September, high school students opened new Algebra I and English textbooks, but the purchase approved last night includes Algebra II, pre-calculus, calculus, chemistry, physics, earth/space science and environmental science textbooks.

After being criticized last year for failing to consider a sufficient number of phonics-based textbooks for elementary schools, officials tried to ensure a more rigorous process this year.

"This was one thoroughly done job," said school board president Tyson Tildon. "I was extremely impressed with the professionalism." Tildon, a University of Maryland scientist, said he had reviewed the selections in detail and was satisfied.

School administrators have spent the past seven months reviewing different textbooks and meeting with publishers. A review committee that included national experts -- who were not present early in the process last year -- examined the textbooks with teachers, parents and administrators and then made recommendations.

The textbooks were then tried out in high school classrooms for several weeks this winter before administrators made their final recommendations to the board. Last weekend, the textbook publishers -- more than half a dozen, including Prentice Hall, Glencoe and Holt, Rinehart, Winston -- and school officials presented the selections to the public.

The science textbooks will be used by 12,600 students; the math books will be used by 6,488 students. The publishers have agreed to provide intensive summer training for math and science teachers as well as provide consultants during the school year. Andrea Bowden, supervisor of science, math and health education, said some parents have asked that they be allowed to buy or rent the textbooks for their children so that they can help them study.

But school board member Dorothy Siegel suggested that the textbooks be available in public libraries so that parents can borrow them.

Most students can take textbooks home to study but some teachers discourage the practice because they fear the books will be lost.

Pub Date: 4/21/99

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