Losing Bucks to Textbooks


Debt is an important concept used throughout the federal government in order to foster long-term growth and prosperity. However, in the halls of Lincoln High School— and any other high school in SJUSD— debt prevents students from receiving their diploma, which is crucial to future opportunities. The problem is only becoming more severe. We decided to discuss the effects of debt on Lincoln students with the Library Media Center Technician, Janet Owens. 

Owens recently took over a new duty as our librarian; she is now responsible for handling the increasing student debt. This transition happened last year, when Ms. Bruni moved on to new opportunities. Prior to Ms. Bruni’s departure, Owens already recognized there was an issue saying, “…[Bruni] had a hard time collecting debts.” The debt itself isn’t what frustrates Ms. Owens though, it’s the consequences behind it. When asking what her main priority is she states, “A lot of time we focus on seniors, because they don’t realize they can’t [get their diploma.] It will follow you through senior year.”  

Students fail to realize that these forgotten textbooks are shared among all classes and grades. They are expensive to replace, and often there are not enough of them. Ms. Owens emphasized the importance of communication from students: “Come and talk to me about it and we can figure [the issue] out.” says Owens. 

Out of desperation, she has taken her own initiative to help alleviate students’ debt. Instead of taking full payment for a new textbook, she takes time out of her busy schedule to find a used one (on Amazon) in good condition; at a significantly cheaper price. 

We wanted to know if other schools in the San Jose Unified School District experience the same issues regarding unreturned textbooks. Owens stated “…all schools go through it. But…I don’t charge late fees on library books and a lot of schools do. They’ll charge twenty five cents a day… I don’t do that.” She tries her hardest to help students through not attaining a fee policy that most other librarians do, yet Lincoln students’ still struggling with returning books. 

Ms. Owens genuinely cares about the student population as a whole and is willing to compromise for the students sake. Find the time to speak to her! Students with longtime debts need to be aware of these consequences, instead of pretending the problem doesn’t exist. As the amount of debt has increased, it has forced her to prohibit students from checking out a textbook if they have had previous debt or missing textbooks. So take some responsibility! If not, expect the reality of being stuck on the last day of school, waiting in a long line with the other procrastinators that need to graduate.

If students were more responsible with their textbooks, students would have to face less adversities when preparing to graduate from high school.