Today I had the privilege to speak before the House Committee on Education about the positive impact open educational resources have had on VCCS students. I was there at the invitation of Eileen Filler-Corn, Delegate from the 41st District of Virginia, who had sponsored House Bill 2041 to create an Open Education Innovation Council. Yesterday, an amended bill had been forwarded unanimously to the full House Committee by the Subcommittee on Educational Reform. The Education Committee voted to send the amended HB 2041 to the Appropriations Committee to evaluate its fiscal impact i.e. “to die.” I thought this was a good thing, but both the VCCS legislative liaison and Del. Filler-Corn herself told me it was, for all intents and purposes, dead.
Education Committee members voiced two primary arguments against the creation of this Council:
- Argument 1 essentially was, “There are already plenty of existing educational advisory councils that could take up this issue. Why do we need a new one?”
- Argument 2 is closely related: “This Council will not be revenue neutral–it requires members to contribute their time (time=$$), and meetings use resources as well, i.e. $$.”
To be honest, having sat on my share of committees and advisory boards, I am not sure how much this OER Council could’ve accomplished. It would have raised the profile of what is becoming a pretty common-sense solution to rising textbook costs, and perhaps an outcome could’ve been building more advocacy for OER among House members. The most effective work will be to continue to scale our OER efforts as best we can so that more and more students and parents see the obvious financial and academic benefits of open textbooks.
The amended bill as reported to the Education Committee can be viewed our downloaded below: