Do Schools in the U.S. reuse textbooks at their school?

Q: A person who lives in California said their elementary school children borrow textbooks from the school and return them after the term ends. Schools reuse textbooks at their school.
Is this a common thing in the US?

A: Yes. Students do not buy textbooks, the school district does. We are not expected to provide our own books until college/university. The idea is that all children should have access to books, whether their family can afford them or not – I don’t know about other countries, but textbooks in the US are extremely expensive.

Each child is assigned certain books for the year, then they must return them at the end of the year. Books typically have a number written inside, or a barcode, if the school has the money, and the number of the book is written in the child’s file so that they can be sure the child turns in the correct book. Sometimes a family may be required to purchase a workbook that goes with the textbook, but this is not so common in elementary school. Typically, the classroom teacher has just one and makes photocopies of the worksheets for the class.

Actually, the textbook issue is a big problem for US schools, because new textbooks are so terribly expensive. If the school district doesn’t have good funding, you end up with problems like books that are very seriously dated. A friend of mine once had a high school social studies book that still referred to Eastern European countries as being part of the Soviet Union/ Eastern Bloc! Science books can also be problematic when they are too old, as scientific research advances and theories and practices change. Still, dated history and social studies books are the worst for kids.

One of my schools was using math books that were so old they had started to fall apart, so we had to spend one class period with the teacher showing us how to make special book covers out of old grocery bags in order to keep the books from coming apart as we used them. My son experienced an issue where the teacher was only given enough books for one class period – so you were not allowed to take your textbook from the classroom, because the students in the next class period needed it! 


Q: カリフォルニア在住の方が小学生は教科書を学校から借りて学期が終わったら返却するといっていましたが、これは普通に行われていることですか?

A: ええ、そうよ。学生は教科書を買わず、学校地域が購入するの。私たちは大学まで自分の教科書をもらえるとは思っていないわ。考え方として、子供たちの家庭が教科書を買う余裕があってもなくても、全ての子供たちが本を使えるべきだということなの。他の国のことはわからないけど、米国の教科書はとてつもなく高いの。