The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

Law allows shopping for textbook bargains

Stacks of textbooks in the DVC bookstore (Photo by Courtney Johnson/The Inquirer, 2010)

College students should be able to see the prices and ISBN numbers of any required textbooks and supplemental materials at the time they register online for classes, according to an amendment to the Higher Education Opportunity Act signed into law by President Barack Obama last August.

The law aims to “ensure that students have access to affordable course materials by decreasing costs to students … while supporting the academic freedom of faculty members to select high quality course materials for students.”

It also requires bookstores to make the contents of textbooks “bundled” with supplementary materials available as individual items. The materials are cheaper than used textbooks, which makes them appealing but lessens the demand for used books, said Bookstore manager Bill Foster.

But while DVC managers set an April 15 deadline for faculty to submit that information, a Faculty Senate task force has yet to decide how to implement the provision, which takes effect July 1.

According to the law, colleges should provide textbook information “to the maximum extent practicable” and if it “is not practicable [to do so],” books will be given a status of “To Be Determined” until the information is supplied.

But Mojdeh Mehdizadeh, the district’s chief technology information officer, and Susan Lamb, DVC’s vice president of instruction, said this leeway only applies to certain circumstances, such as when teachers receive last-minute class assignments or when out-of-print books are assigned.

Having latitude is not important for math teachers, since the department chooses the same book for each type of class. It is of concern, however, in departments like history and English, where instructors switch books often or wait until the start of the semester make the choice.
English professor Laury Fischer believes the law will save students money at the expense of quality. Enforcing a deadline, he said, may lead instructors to pick the same texts year after year, which “doesn’t promote creative teaching.”

“I think it puts a tremendous burden on teachers to pick a book before they are ready,” he said.

 Fischer said he is concerned about what would happen if someone did not meet the deadline.

“The last thing I want … is Susan Lamb picking my book,” he said. 

Ted Wieden, DVC’s interim dean of instruction, said the law would not penalize instructors who do not comply, but the Faculty Senate Textbook Task Force will monitor textbook requests.

“What we want to avoid is a faculty member who just doesn’t want or doesn’t bother to turn it in,” he said.

While the task force will not assign textbooks to classes, it is discussing the possibility of departments doing so, he said.

But Vice Chancellor Deborah Blue said the district’s compliance with the law will be reviewed yearly by auditors. While it is not typical for first or second offenses to result in loss of federal funds, repeat violations could result in loss of financial aid, she said.
Textbook titles for each course are currently available on the bookstore’s website, but to be in accordance with the Act, the college will link the bookstore with WebAdvisor. 

Associate Vice Chancellor Mehdizadeh said this will “ensure that all students have access to materials relevant to courses.”

Foster, manger of the campus Bookstore, said he is not worried about diminished sales.

“I still think when it comes to price and service,” he said, “we’ll still be offering more than they can find anywhere else.”

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Oksana Yurovsky, Staff member
Staff member.

Comments (0)

By commenting, you give The Inquirer permission to quote, reprint or edit your words. Comments should be brief, have a positive or constructive tone, and stay on topic. If the commenter wants to bring something to The Inquirer’s attention, it should be relevant to the DVC community. Posts can politely disagree with The Inquirer or other commenters. Comments should not use abusive, threatening, offensive or vulgar language. They should not be personal attacks or celebrations of other people’s tragedies. They should not overtly or covertly contain commercial advertising. And they should not disrupt the forum. Editors may warn commenters or delete comments that violate this policy. Repeated violations may lead to a commenter being blocked. Public comments should not be anonymous or come from obviously fictitious accounts. To privately or anonymously bring something to the editors’ attention, contact them.
All The Inquirer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Activate Search
Law allows shopping for textbook bargains