Dick Durbin is my hero (and not just because I dig his last name).
The Democratic Senator from Illinois has won over my heart and my everlasting loyalty by dedicating a large portion of his political career to challenging what I consider to be one of the most evil and immoral organizations of all time: the college textbook industry.
This Herculean battle began in 2008 when Durbin managed to bring his Higher Education Opportunity Act from bill to law. The act held provisions that required schools to make their students more aware of alternative textbook buying options.
Now in 2015 Durbin has once again proven to be the greatest hero of our generation by introducing the Affordable Textbook Act onto the Senate floor with co-sponsors Al Franken (D – MN) and Angus King (I – ME).
According to a press release from Durbin’s office, “This bill…would create a competitive grant program to support the creation and use of open college textbooks—textbooks that are available under an open license, allowing professors, students, researchers and others to freely access the materials.”
Durbin is using the open-source textbook created by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign as a case-study for his program.
“In 2012, faculty at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign created an open textbook using federal funds that was published electronically for free use. At least a dozen schools throughout the country have contacted the University of Illinois about the text or are using it today. The book was also used in a Massive Open Online Course on Coursera that has been sampled by at least 60,000 students. The Affordable College Textbook Act can replicate and build on the successes we’ve already seen in Illinois” Durbin said.
I can not think of a more necessary, or overdue, piece of legislation.
For Decades University bookstores have been embracing capitalist pricing models with a fervor that would make Ayn Rand blush.
Education costs have already grown past surprising and reached the level of obscene. Student loan debts are out of control and the bubble that these predatory costs have created will soon be at “sub-prime mortgage size” if it isn’t already.
Lawmakers like Durbin and his co-sponsors are waging an incredibly vital, and criminally underreported, war against the ruthless gouging of textbook companies.
They need our support. Make calls, write letters, send a Snapchat for crying out loud!
Just do something to support this bill and help Senator Durbin to slay this dragon once and for all.