Information Availability on Textbook Costs

AS-2798-07/FGA - May 10-11, 2007


RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate of the California State University (ASCSU) reaffirm the principles contained in its resolution AS-2747-06/FA (“Faculty Role in Mitigating Costs of Textbooks”), specifically those holding that (1) consistent with the principle of academic freedom, nothing shall infringe on the right of the faculty to select textbooks and other educational material for classroom use, and that (2) it is important that, whenever possible, course texts and materials be selected in ways that minimize the cost of a university education to students; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the ASCSU affirm that the ready availability of textbook pricing information is essential to informed decision-making by faculty in the selection of texts in a way that minimizes student costs; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the ASCSU support SB 832 (Corbett) “College Textbook Affordability Act,” requiring disclosure by publishers of textbook information as a way of permitting faculty to make more effective textbook choices in order to minimize costs of course textbooks and materials to students; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the ASCSU urge Senator Corbett, as author of SB 832, to incorporate language in the bill to ensure that nothing in “The College Textbook Affordability Act” limit the ability of the faculty to select the textbooks deemed most appropriate for student learning; and be it further

RESOLVED: That this resolution be forwarded to the Chancellor, the Board of Trustees, the Associated Students of the California State University, campus senate chairs, and the author of the above legislation (Senator Corbett).

RATIONALE: The ASCSU recognizes that the rising cost of textbooks and other course materials has a significant impact on the affordability of higher education and can adversely affect access to higher education for many students in California. The importance of this issue has also been recognized by the California State Student Association (CSSA), the Legislature, and the Governor and has, increasingly, been of national concern as well. In response, the ASCSU passed AS-2747-06/FA (“Faculty Role in Mitigating Costs of Textbooks”) in May, 2006, recommending that faculty take a variety of steps to reduce the cost of textbooks and other course materials to students.

Central to making rational decisions in the selection of textbooks in order to minimize the financial impact on students is the timely availability of information on both textbook prices and the various options that publishers make available. To this end, the ASCSU strongly supports actions that work to that end. Two bills are currently under consideration by the California State Legislature, SB 832 (Corbett) “College Textbook Affordability Act” and AS 1548 (Solorio) “Transparency in College Textbook Publishing Practices,” that partially address the issue of college text affordability by requiring information to be made publicly available on textbook prices and related information. Under both bills public institutions of postsecondary education may not allow the sale on its campus of any textbook for this information is unavailable. Both bills define the term “textbook” in such as way as to refer only to those books designed specifically for use as a text in the classroom and not to ancillary texts such as novels, plays, or other supplemental reading. AB 1548 (Solorio) contains provisions that are a source of concern to the ASCSU, however; these include (1) placing responsibility on the university for policing publisher compliance and (2) the provision allowing for state residents to bring a civil action to enforce the requirement. As a result, the ASCSU supports SB 832 (Corbett). The ASCSU supports the intent of AB 1548 (Solorio), although it does not formally support the bill as it stands at this time.

Approved Unanimously - May 10-11, 2007

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