Irate Tennessee Lawmaker Attacks High Cost Of Textbooks

State Rep. Mike Sparks wants lawmakers to study the high cost of textbooks. Credit: John Liu via Flickr

State Rep. Mike Sparks wants lawmakers to study the high cost of textbooks. Credit: John Liu via Flickr

A Rutherford County lawmaker says he’s frustrated with the high price of college textbooks and has filed a bill that he hopes will help reduce those costs.

State Rep. Mike Sparks, R-Smyrna, introduced a measure this week calling for the creation of a panel of lawmakers to study cheaper ways to educate students.

Sparks, who attends Middle Tennessee State University part time, says his interest in textbook pricing began when a professor asked students to buy a statistics book that cost $200. Luckily, his son already had a copy.

“So I borrowed his book, and I went to the library and made copies of it,” he says.

Sparks is also upset that some professors require textbooks they’ve written themselves. That’s a conflict of interest, he says.

Sparks believes these situations show educators aren’t really trying hard enough to keep college affordable for working students.

“I’m around all these smart people, all these people with doctorate degrees,” says Sparks. “But let me tell you. All those educated (people), they’re not doing anything” to deal with costs.

Sparks says the committee could study possibilities such as using more electronic and open-source material, as well as offering more online classes. The committee would report back in 2016.

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