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Westlake Hopes to One Day Eliminate Textbooks

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. – For Westlake High School Principal Keith Schenker, it's difficult to understand why textbooks are still an integral part of the education system.

"It's lunacy in this day in age that we are required to still purchase hard copy texts when almost every single textbook company that schools use are offering online resources or electronic texts," Schenker said.

An online or electronic resource could completely  eliminate the need for students to lug heavy textbooks and going to and from home.

According to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission study, more than 75 percent of students between the ages of 8 and 12 suffer from increasing back pain caused by hauling oversized, overloaded backpacks.

However, a clause in the New York State Education Department's Textbook Loan Program that Schenker refers to as "archaic", restricts school districts from receiving financial aid for electronic textbook resources. According to this program, internet on-line services are not defined as textbooks to receive aid.

Previously, Schenker was principal at Glen Cove High School. He says during his second year as principal there, he proposed a business plan to purchase electronic resources for Glen Cove students for the amount of $50,000 and was denied by the state since the resources were not a text.

Yasmin Dhar, M.D., chief of sports medicine at Sound Shore Medical Center, says that there are many medical issues that can result from students carrying an overloaded and heavy backpack.

"Back pain is the reason for a large number of adolescent physician visits. Ill-fitting or overweight backpacks account for some back pain symptoms, as does poor posture that is exacerbated by heavy or ill-fitting backpacks." Dhar said.

In an ideal world, Schenker says he hopes that someday each of his students can enter Westlake as a freshman and be given an iPad or e-reader where each text can be uploaded and stored throughout the student's four years, eliminating textbooks all together.

"Hopefully one day we can move into the 21st century,"

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