Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-6117

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING THE USE OF DIGITAL OPEN-SOURCE TEXTBOOKS IN HIGHER EDUCATION.

Vote Date:

3/12/2015

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

2/26/2015

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Rep. Gregg Haddad, 54th District and Sen. Mae Flexer, 29th District

REASONS FOR BILL:

To establish an open-source textbook consortium with a minimum of five institutions of higher education. The consortium will assess and promote the use of high quality open-source textbooks to lower costs for students.  They will develop and acquire open- source textbooks for student use.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Subira Gordon, Legislative Analyst , African- American Affairs Commission: testified in support of the bill, stating increasing costs of text books affect students. Making open-source textbooks available will assist in decreasing educational costs for students.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Kevin Corcoran, Executive Director, Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium:  submitted testimony in support of the bill, he states in the years between 2002 - 2012 commercial textbooks have increased 82% or 3 times the rate of inflation during the same span. Due to rising costs 60% of students will not register for at least one course in their academic experience and 25% of those students will take a course without the required materials. The CTDLC working with Housatonic Community College (HCC) converted a textbook costing $300 to an opened- source licensed work at a cost of $30.00 per student.  To date, HCC has served 250 students with this program at a savings of $67,500 using open-resource material.

Judith B. Greiman, President, Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges: submitted testimony in support of this bill, she asks that private colleges be added to the bill for open- resource materials.

Evan Preston, State Director, Connecticut Public Interest Research Group (ConnPIRG): submitted testimony in support of the bill, he cites 3 state universities, Massachusetts , Kanas & Maryland and 1 library in Minnesota  who have implemented open-source educational material as alternatives to high cost textbooks.  In Massachusetts grants ($1,000 to $2,500) were offered to faculty to convert to open educational resources, including textbooks. After 4 years of implementation an investment of $60,000 has resulted in $1,000,000 in savings. For students the savings equates to 125.98 per course. In Kansas the savings to students has been $110.79 per course when using open- resource material. In Maryland the initiative reports having impacted 1,100 students, for a total savings of $130,000 or 118.18 per student.  Minnesota launched the Open- Textbook Library which after 4 years has impacted 2,900 students that has generated $382,000 in savings or 132.00 per course per student. 

James Boissy, Student, Trinity College: submitted testimony in support of the bill, citing 1,000 dollars he has spent in textbooks for one year in college. He shared, “friends have spent 1,000 dollars in textbooks for one semester.” Open source textbooks would be available at little to no cost to students.

Yevgeniya Zhukova, Student, University of New Haven: testified in support of the bill, she is pursuing a master's degree stating the costs of textbooks required for her degree are even higher. She stated the increased costs of textbooks make financing her education more difficult.

Tyler Williams, Student, University of Connecticut:  submitted testimony in support of the bill, stating “college is hard for most students to afford, and costs keep rising.”  If open-source textbooks were made available to this student he stated he could have saved close to 5,000 dollars.

Stephanie Abadom, Student, University of Connecticut: submitted testimony in support of the bill, she stated she made the decision not to buy 2 textbooks due to high costs and ability to pay for them. She made this decision knowing it could affect her education.

Saman Azimi, Student, University of Connecticut: submitted testimony in support of the bill, stating “decreasing the cost of textbooks would be monumental in increasing access to higher education for students.”

Thomas McGlone, Student, University of Connecticut: submitted testimony in support of the bill, citing the cost of his psychology and physics textbooks was 200 each dollars. He was only able to afford one book. “Open-source textbooks could make this situation avoidable.”  Thomas said that he "would rather lose a few points on a three-credit course than pay $200 for information that can be found on the Internet at any moment."

Mark Guerrera, Student, Central Connecticut State University: submitted testimony in support of the bill, his testimony echoed statements of previous supporters regarding the high cost of textbooks vs. affordable open-source textbooks.

Christian Allyn, Student, University of Connecticut: submitted testimony in support of the bill, stated one assigned book for one class was an out of print book that cost $489-$573 dollars. She did not purchase the book, at the cost of her academics.

Andre Bent, Student, University of Connecticut: submitted testimony in support of the bill, his testimony echoed statements of previous supporters regarding the high cost of textbooks vs. affordable open-source textbooks.

Eduardo Gonzalez, Student, University of Connecticut: submitted testimony in support of the bill, stating “open-source textbooks will create an authentic learning experience that would not depend on whether or not a student could afford to pay for required texts.”

Hannah Tripp, Student, University of Connecticut: submitted testimony in support of the bill, stating typical financial aid packages do not extend to the cost of supplies like textbooks and in one semester textbook costs “rose to over 500 dollars.”

Hayley Rowe, Student, University of Connecticut: submitted testimony in support of the bill, she stated she spent $1,039.73 for textbooks for 2 semesters of college. One reason she could not purchase used books were the books were bundled with access codes.

Joseph Tomastik, Student, University of Connecticut: submitted testimony in support of the bill, echoing the statements of other students, that textbooks are too expensive.

Katelyn Burke, Student, University of Connecticut: submitted testimony in support of the bill, her testimony echoed statements of previous supporters regarding the high cost of textbooks vs. affordable open-source textbooks.

Raekwon Wheeler, Student, Trinity College: submitted testimony in support of the bill, stating although the costs of books are covered in his scholarship he has heard “horrific stories” of fellow students and the costs of textbooks.

Olivia Alsip, Student, University of Hartford: submitted testimony in support of the bill, her testimony echoed statements of previous supporters regarding the high cost of textbooks vs. affordable open-source textbooks. She stated “the high price of books makes valuable information inaccessible to many when information and knowledge should be shared.”

Oluwatoyin Akinnusotu, Student, University of Connecticut: submitted testimony in support of the bill, stated he is currently pursuing a medical degree and the cost of one required textbook was $288.00. The high cost of textbooks affects him academically.

Molly Schineller, Student, Trinity College: submitted testimony in support of the bill, stated “the overwhelming cost of textbooks causes a great deal of unavoidable stress at the beginning of each new semester.”  Molly's mother works for Pearson Education, and even using her mother's discount, she still had to pay an average of $350 each semester for textbooks.

Matthew Pilkiewicz, Student, Trinity College: submitted testimony in support of the bill, states he supports open-source textbooks “because I do not want to spend more on textbooks in one semester than what my parents had to spend in their entire college careers.”

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

David Anderson, Executive Director, Higher Education Association of American Publishers: submitted testimony in opposition to the bill, he states “he does not believe educators are faced with an either/or question of whether to use open educational resources (OER) or learning materials but a both/and proposition.”  He objects to government using taxpayer funds to favor one set of participants in a competitive marketplace with a “massive amount of OER material currently available.” He states there is no need for government at any level to subsidize the creation of more material. He provided examples of open-source publishers; one example was Openstax which has published 14 textbooks at a development cost of $500,000 per textbook. This publisher funded the textbooks through private not government funds. He stated he provided examples to give a sense of how higher education publishers & digital learning companies are collaborating with OER developers, and how leaving them out of the equation is both unfair and counterproductive.

Reported by:   Beth Hargett, Assistant Clerk

Date: March 16, 2015