Zero Means Zero Textbook Cost

Fall 2021; Resolution Number 3.05

Whereas, Zero-Textbook-Cost (ZTC) refers to instances in which textbooks are available to students at no cost, and California Education Code §66406.9 requires that California community colleges “Clearly highlight, by means that may include a symbol or logo in a conspicuous place on the online campus course schedule, the courses that exclusively use digital course materials,” providing a mechanism for marking course sections that are zero-textbook-cost;

Whereas, California Education Code §78052, which originally established a zero-textbook-cost degree grant program in the California Community Colleges system, states that “’Zero-textbook-cost degrees’ means community college associate degrees or career technical education certificates earned entirely by completing courses that eliminate conventional textbook costs by using alternative instructional materials and methodologies,” and the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office has recommended that future ZTC funds should “ensure the ZTC programs and courses are truly zero cost to the students by eliminating hidden costs” (Zero-Textbook-Cost Degree Grant Program Legislative Report, CCCCO 2020);

Whereas, The 2021 revisions to California Education Code §78052 redefine “zero-textbook-cost degrees” to allow for “low-cost” to be recognized as “zero” in ill-defined instances, stating, “For purposes of this paragraph, ‘zero-textbook-cost degrees’ may include a low-cost degree option if a no-cost equivalent option is not available or cannot be developed”; and

Whereas, While open educational resources (OER) provide a mechanism to reduce or eliminate costs for instructional materials and textbooks, in some instances eliminating costs using OER is not possible because instructional resources require the use of such works as photographs, literature, and other materials that are under copyright;

Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges work to further communicate that zero-textbook-cost has a clear and specific meaning by affirming California Education Code’s original definition of zero-textbook-cost that refers to “courses that eliminate conventional textbook costs by using alternative instructional materials and methodologies,” and recognize that a variety of approaches can be used to bring course costs for students to zero, including college library subscriptions, purchasing access to copyrighted resources, and purchasing print resources;

Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges recognize open educational resources as the preferred and most sustainable mechanism for eliminating course costs but acknowledge that instances will arise in which eliminating costs is not possible;

Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges assert that while open educational resources can reduce or eliminate instructional materials and textbook costs, resources should be dedicated to convening discipline faculty to determine the most sustainable mechanisms for reducing the costs of course resources; and

Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges encourage the use of approaches that significantly reduce course resource costs such that course sections with a low-cost can obtain zero-textbook-cost status by virtue of the cost being absorbed by the college, district, or the state.