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Rice Bill Requiring Textbooks for All Students in Public Schools Clears Senate

Senator Ronald L. Rice, D-Essex, speaks during a meeting of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Ronald L. Rice to require the board of education of each school district to provide an individual textbook for each student enrolled in each class in the district which uses one was approved today by the full Senate.


“Students cannot reach their fullest potential academically if they are not given the resources they need to succeed. Text books are a basic essential that should be provided to each student for every subject,” said Senator Rice, (D-Essex). “This bill will clarify that all students deserve the same educational supplies. Providing each student with the means to learn both in the classroom and at home with the proper tools is part of providing a “through and efficient” education.”


Current law does not require each individual student to have their own textbooks or other supplies to aid in studying. It only requires textbooks to be available free of cost for use by all pupils. Reports have indicated that students, particularly in urban districts, lack the proper textbooks and workbooks to complete their homework and study for their tests. In 2013, a group of Camden children handed the board of education letters explaining that they did not have the materials needed to properly study or complete their work. There were also reports that students who attend BarringerHigh School in Newark did not have textbooks to study.  Under the bill (S295) a textbook means books, workbooks or manuals, whether bound or in looseleaf form, or electronic textbook.


“This makes clear that a school district must provide a text book to each child for each class they are enrolled in. This should be normal practice for our districts. Unfortunately, we have seen some children deprived of the basic supplies they need to further their education. It’s unacceptable and it’s time that we addressed this problem,” added Senator Rice.


The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 33-2. It next heads to the Assembly for consideration.