I have been following this story closely not only because I live in California but because I have spent many, many hours working with online textbooks published by Holt. I used to represent Holt McDougal (even as far back as when it was Holt, Rinehart and Winston). With the merger last year, they couldn’t keep me on as a consultant; however, I have remained friends with many of their staff (some of whom are still with Holt and many who are scattered around our industry).

In the eight years of working with Holt, I’ve been privileged to watch the evolution of their online textbooks and often saw resources before their release. I’ve championed the promotion of online textbooks because these digital books are amazing. The integrated tools for teachers will boggle your mind. The appeal to students alone is just cause for committing to them. One of Holt’s social studies texts included interactive maps that let students select years to see, for example, how Napoleon’s empire changed over time. I’ve watched kids listen to audio translations in Spanish or work with interactive notebooks that are monitored by teachers.

This is only the tip of the iceberg…

I realize that transitioning to digital-only textbooks would be difficult. I know we are concerned about marginalizing students. Teachers have my genuine concern when trying to understand how they might manage without hardbound books to pass around. But like all major change, the journey to get “there” while seemingly overwhelming, can be successfully navigated. I have seen what the end result can be and I believe it is worth the painful transition. I applaud Schwarzenegger for pushing this agenda and I am anxious to see how this moves forward.

By the way, would you like a little help with that PR plan, Mr. Governor??