State money set aside in Texas to pay for school textbooks cannot be used to buy laptop computers instead, state Attorney General Greg Abbott said last week.
In a July 18 opinion, Mr. Abbott said the state law establishing Texas’ textbook fund clearly requires that the money be used for textbooks, videos, and software that convey information to students—and not hardware or equipment.
Lawmakers have expressed interest in shifting money from textbooks to laptops for students, but the Texas Constitution and state laws require that public school students be provided free textbooks.
Geraldine “Tincy” Miller, the chairwoman of the state board of education, which oversees the fund that finances textbooks, asked for the opinion in January to help settle the matter. Money to pay for textbooks comes from the Permanent School Fund, a $22.1 billion pool financed by oil and gas revenue. In 2005, the fund provided $880 million for education, including textbooks, according to the fund’s latest annual report.
A version of this article appeared in the July 26, 2006 edition of Education Week