Many Arizona school districts using old, outdated textbooks - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Many Arizona school districts using old, outdated textbooks

Half of 47 school districts say social studies textbooks are more than 10 years old. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Half of 47 school districts say social studies textbooks are more than 10 years old. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
"Textbooks are very expensive," said Diane Douglas. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) "Textbooks are very expensive," said Diane Douglas. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
"Ourselves and I think our counterparts across the state, we're doing the very best we can," said Canto. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) "Ourselves and I think our counterparts across the state, we're doing the very best we can," said Canto. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

A CBS 5 Investigation found dozens of Arizona school districts using textbooks that are 10 years old or older. The oldest text still in use, according to responses from district officials, was published when the Soviet Union still controlled much of Eastern Europe.

It can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for a school district to update a curriculum and replace older textbooks, and many district officials stated that they do not have the funds to spend on texts, when they are faced with competing capital needs, such as fixing roofs, replacing air conditioners and school buses.

[SPECIAL SECTION: CBS 5 Investigates]

"Transportation would be a competing need," said Angeline Canto, who is the assistant superintendent at the Nogales Unified School District. She says her district spent $655,000 on textbooks this year. But she said the district would be in a better position to address its capital needs if it received more finding from the state. She estimated that to be between an additional $2 million and $3 million per year.

"Ourselves and I think our counterparts across the state, we're doing the very best we can," said Canto.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Schools in Crisis]

CBS 5 Investigates sent a survey to every public school district in Arizona, asking when each district last updated its sixth grade social studies curriculum, and to list the title, author, publishers and copyright date of their current social studies textbooks.

Forty-seven districts responded, and more than half stated that their social studies textbooks are more than 10 years old. Some are nearly 20 years old. One district stated that its social studies text was published in 1990.

That text, titled, "Eastern Hemisphere, The World Around Us," lists George HW Bush as the current U.S. president and discusses the impact the Soviet Union and communism are having on Europe and the rest of the world.

The director of instructional services for that district told CBS 5 Investigates that his social studies teachers add to the material in the text by searching through free education sites.

"Textbooks are very expensive," said Diane Douglas, who is the Arizona superintendent of public instruction. She says many districts are turning to technology to offset some of that cost, but she also cautioned that that is not a cure-all.

"I think districts need to consider what the cost is of that versus the cost of textbooks," Douglas said.

Educators in the Nogales school district say they spent more than $500,000 on technology in the past year, but that turning to a strictly "e-book" system would not work, because many of their students do not have access to computers at home.

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Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award, and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. In October 2016, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School at Purdue University Global. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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