College textbooks cost way too much money.
College is extremely expensive on its own, but it's ridiculous that, each semester, books cost a minimum of hundreds of dollars. Part of the problem is that even used books are very expensive, and sometimes they're not available because teachers switch to a new edition as regularly as they're produced (and, let's face it, most editions do not add that much vital information) or the book comes in a pack with the workbook or other consumable products.
What bothers me is that textbooks or the things they come with aren't even vital for some classes. Some classes require you to buy books and then only test you over the material gone over in lecture. I think I've had one class, yet, where I used the included CD-ROM (but it was not required). Surely the CD-ROMs add quite a bit to the cost.
It also kind of bothers me when teachers write their own textbooks, and then require that you buy them- the newest edition, of course. I understand that it makes sense, in some cases, to have a book specifically tailored to what they want to teach. But it also seems kinda crappy that the teacher is getting paid for teaching you and ALSO gets some money for your buying the textbook (which you didn't have much of a choice in).
I know that the books- especially hardbacks- are somewhat expensive to produce, and many people go into making them. They have to pay for rights to pictures and charts and things. I get that. But really-- the average college student is paying over $600 for books alone- never mind tuition. And if you live away from home... there are many, many more costs. If you're in-state, at a community college, living at home, college is STILL expensive. There's something wrong with that!
Obviously, I value education-- I'm in college, I've done pretty well in school in the past, and I'm going to be a teacher. But I believe that any person should be able to get schooling beyond the high school level. It doesn't have to necessarily be free, but, come on! It has to be reasonable, or how will people ever advance in life? Education has to be POSSIBLE for almost anyone- or else of COURSE our country isn't going to be very smart.
There are lots of reasons education is expensive-- I just think textbooks would be a good place to start. Yes, I'm bitter because I just dished out about $500 for my books, but still. I think it's ridiculous that I have to pay that much money, and then even if I try to sell back a book, I can rarely get anything close to what I paid for it, regardless of the book's condition. It's an added, huge cost, and I wish someone could do something about it. Apparently legislators have tried, but it's not easy. I just think that when America discusses education failing, one thing they should look at are the reasons why education is so expensive. Textbook prices don't just affect college students; if school districts could spend less money on textbooks, they could spend more money on other supplies, school renovations, or teachers. There are lots of other things to look at when trying to figure out how to "fix" America's education system... but book prices would not be a bad place to start!