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California, Here We Come!

Like the gold miners of yesteryear, the nation's publishers appear to be setting out for California, hoping to stake their claims in a new online textbook market.

Well, maybe the interest was not quite that intense. But Since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced plans to give districts access to free, online math and science textbooks, beginning at the high school level, the state has received interest from nine publishers, large and small. I've heard of some of them. Others were unfamiliar. The list includes Connexions, the Wellesley-Cambridge Press, Curriki, and what appear to be offers from individuals with experience in the biz. Schwarzenegger seems to have been particularly enthused about the interest of one major publisher, Pearson Education, going so far as to single out their participation in a statement. The governor and other state officials argue the digital movement will save the cash-bereft state money, and reinforce students' tech skills. Others have their doubts. Should we be surprised that even more publishers haven't expressed interest in California's plans for online high school texts?

The governor had established a June 15 deadline for publishers to put forward their proposals. He's also set an ambitious target for having the state review their materials and create an approved list, saying he wants it done by this fall. Other states (and publishers) are bound to be watching developments in the Golden State very closely.

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