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Obama wants printed books abolished in schools, defying student wishes

The Colbert Report
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First it was soft drinks and fatty cafeteria food the White House pushed out of the nation’s schools over the wishes of students. Now the president’s team is out to replace printed books with e-books, clashing again with students who like their inky companions.

According to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, eliminating printed school books will save money and reduce the weight of student backpacks. Plus, he believes that math, history, English and other textbooks are somehow obsolete as soon as they are printed.

He explained the president’s campaign to abolish printed books and buy digital replacements this week on Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report.”

Stephen Colbert: “I have heard that the Obama administration wants to get rid of printed textbooks and go to all digital, is that true?”

Duncan: “I think we need to move from print to digital absolutely as fast as we can. We spend each year--every school is underfunded--we have to invest more in education. But each year we spend $7 to $9 billion on textbooks and those textbooks are obsolete the day we buy them...

“We want to lighten those backpacks, we think those backpacks are far too heavy. And all that scarce money that we are spending on textbooks, put it into digital, put it into resources that students can use right now to learn.”

A recent Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project survey found that over seven of 10 high school aged students read printed books, with just 12 percent choosing e-books. Pew found, though, that they would be open to reading books if they were preloaded on e-readers.

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.