"Groups lobbying for increased state appropriations for public schools often argue students are being forced to use old textbooks because of underfunding," The Oklahoman notes today.
What those groups don’t mention is that school administrators previously lobbied the Legislature to change the law so they would not have to use textbook money only for textbooks. When the national economic downturn began, schools asked for greater flexibility in the use of those funds, which lawmakers provided. This allowed schools to use textbook money for other classroom expenses like salary support. If the Legislature were to change the law back, and earmark those funds exclusively for textbooks, fewer students would be using old textbooks. But that money would no longer be free for other uses, and it’s likely schools officials would loudly object. The use of old textbooks is not simply a product of state funding, but also of locally controlled decisions.