The Textbook Crisis- Can It Be Solved?
October 28th, 2004
The second month of school has begun. Programs have been corrected, textbooks have been distributed, and Principal Stanley Teitel has introduced a new policy. His message is quite simple: “Ye who doth not return the books ye owes shalt not set foot outside the school during lunch.”
This policy has been put into effect as a response to Stuyvesant’s textbook shortage. Many students do not bother to return their textbooks on time and wait until their senior year to give in books or to report lost ones. As a result, the school must purchase new ones every year, so that every student can have the books he or she needs. This issue has become especially significant this year, given the recent budget cuts. Our school cannot afford to spend money on new books when funds for classes and extracurricular activities have been cut.
The current policy is a good measure that will undoubtedly result in the return of a few missing books, but it is not effective enough. The removal of lunch privileges doesn’t affect many of the people who have not yet returned their books since many students eat lunch in the cafeteria to begin with. Junior John Passaro expressed the attitudes of many Stuyvesant students when he stated: “People who go out for lunch [regularly] say, ‘This sucks, the man is keeping me down.’ But, if you eat inside, there's no reason to care, right?”
Others are too lazy to return their books and simply prefer to eat with other students who owe books and refuse to return them. “Most of my friends just eat in now from the school store,” said senior Kazi Sanam. Finally, those who do want to eat out can borrow a friend’s program card and leave the school with a smirk on their face. So, unless, you are one of those people who simply will not touch the poison called lunch food, have a grudge against the student store, and have no good friends to lend you their program card, this is simply not that big a deal.
The current policy will not save the school any money. We have all expressed disapproval with the massive budget cuts and how these have affected our classes and clubs, yet if students can bypass the book policy so easily, the school will lose more money, thus creating the possibility of further negative changes. If the punishment remains as lax as it is at the current moment, then we may all suffer.
If a better method of returning books cannot be provided for this year, one must be implemented in the future. For example, one such solution involves students placing deposits on every book they are given. If the books are returned, the money is given back to them. If they fail to return their books past a certain deadline, then the deposits are used to acquire new books.
Mr. Teitel mentioned that many books are not being returned because of shared lockers and book switching. The proposed policy would take care of this problem as well. Students would be more careful with their books because they won’t want to lose their deposit money. However, a simple suggestion to us all is to write our names inside our books. This would prevent the confusion that comes with borrowing and sharing books, as well as provide an effective way of identifying the books’ owners.
Senior Ferdinand Chan agrees with the idea of students paying for late books, though he has his own spin on the solution. “I believe that it would give students more incentive to bring in their books after they are done with a class. Then, they would be charged periodically if they brought the book in, let's say 3 months later then it is due.” The main difference between the two policies is that the students would not place deposits during the book distribution, but simply pay the late charges if and when they return the books after the deadline. Although his method would expedite the book distribution, it opens the possibility that while students would return the late books on time so that the charges don’t accumulate, they would delay paying the actual charges until late senior year. If the books are not returned on time, the school has to purchase new ones.
If the administration cannot impose more effective regulations on students this year, something must be done in the future. Spending money on new books seems ridiculous when there are thousands of textbooks lying around in students’ homes. Creating a policy that doesn’t motivate many students to return books seems similarly absurd. All these problems can be avoided by putting together a system that takes care of both the school’s and the students’ needs.