Schools must get digital-ready

Published 9:21 pm Thursday, March 10, 2016

By Del. Roslyn Tyler

Twenty-two states have officially endorsed digital textbooks, and the White House has set a deadline of 2017 for all students to use electronic materials. Most school divisions continue to use hardback textbooks due to the expense associated with new technology and Internet accessibility.

In Virginia, Henrico, Chesterfield, Arlington, Albermarle counties and the city of Alexandria school divisions are the only areas providing laptops for their students. According to the chairman of the Federal Communication Commission, American students must be prepared to compete in the 21st century, and they cannot miss out on the opportunity of the digital textbook.

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SB 740 was introduced this year in the General Assembly and would have created a legal standard for school systems that use electronic textbooks in the classroom, required every school system to have a plan to ensure that every child would have a digital device to take back and forth to school and required each school using electronic textbooks to have a fiber optic connection to the school by July 1, 2019.

SB 740 failed in the state education committee on a 10 to 9 vote. However, next year it will be introduced again. School systems must plan for the 21st century with electronic textbooks and digital devices.

I voted against SB 740 due to the fiscal impact it would have had on local governing bodies. However, I am concerned because all children deserve an equitable education.

Will the schools in Southside Virginia be ready to provide digital devices for their students by 2017? School Boards must now be in the process of developing a plan.

Roslyn Tyler is a delegate for the House of Representatives in the 75th District. She can be reached at 804-698-1075 or by email at