The HEOA recognizes right off how making complete textbook information available to students treads close to the terrain of academic freedom, making that an academic department’s likeliest first line of discussion with any administration interested in being sure that the law is well followed. As far as I can tell, the spirit (and the letter) of the law merely require that students get timely and full disclosure on textbook content and availability. There’s no requirement that faculty have to compromise their best pedagogical judgment about how and what to teach in their academic courses. In fact, far from mandating any uniformity of approach in a given discipline, the law is sensitive to academic quality, freedom, and faculty judgment while making textbook content and availability as transparent as possible for students. I think we already, as a department, are in compliance with the law. Our textbook orders are typically submitted well in advance of any given semester those textbooks are required for classes. Note too, in the last sentence quoted below, that this section of the HEOA will not be enforced but merely “monitored” for the time being.
(The following section is from page 35 of 219—The Higher Education Opportunity Act
HEOA section 112 HEA section 133
Effective date: July 1, 2010
The HEOA supports the academic freedom of faculty to select high quality course
materials for their students while imposing several new provisions to ensure that students
have timely access to affordable course materials at postsecondary institutions receiving
Federal financial assistance. These provisions support that effort and include the
• When textbook publishers provide information on a college textbook or supplemental
material to faculty in charge of selecting course materials at postsecondary
institutions, that information must be in writing (including electronic communication)
and must include
– the price of the textbook;
– the copyright dates of the three previous editions (if any);
– a description of substantial content revisions;
– whether the textbook is available in other formats and if so, the price to the
institution and to the general public;
– the separate prices of textbooks unbundled from supplemental material; and
– to the maximum extent possible, the same information for custom textbooks.
• To the maximum extent practicable, an institution must include on its Internet course
schedule for required and recommended textbooks and supplemental material
– the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and retail price;
– if the ISBN is not available, the author, title, publisher, and copyright date; or
– if such disclosure is not practicable, the designation “To Be Determined.”
If applicable, the institution must include on its written course schedule a reference to
the textbook information available on its Internet schedule and the Internet address
for that schedule.
• A postsecondary institution must provide the following information to its college
bookstores upon request by such college bookstore:
– the institution’s course schedule for the subsequent academic period; and
– for each course or class offered, the information it must include on its Internet
course schedule for required and recommended textbooks and supplemental
material, the number of students enrolled, and the maximum student enrollment.
• Institutions disclosing the information they must include on their Internet course
schedules for required and recommended textbooks and supplemental material are
encouraged to provide information on
– renting textbooks;
– purchasing used textbooks;
– textbook buy-back programs; and
– alternative content delivery programs.
The Secretary is prohibited from regulating on this section of the HEA, but will monitor
institutions and review student complaints relating to these provisions.