This is a California State Textbook

Due to reasons beyond my control (and belief), I find myself spending many a-hours in an elementary school library. A highlight from my time there is a discovery of a 1950s textbook on California missions. (Don’t worry; this outdated book isn’t indicative of the quality of the library collection as a whole.) The book would be unremarkable except for this notice that was pasted inside its cover.

Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your California State Textbook.

Forgive my bad (cell phone) photography, but this is what the notice reads

This is a California STATE TEXTBOOK
• It is the duty of pupils to assist the State by guarding and using this book with care, so that it may yield good service.
• Only one book can be given to a pupil.
• He should cover it with paper or other protective material, and should he lose, damage, or destroy the book he should replace it at his own expense.
• It is the duty of teachers to encourage and enforce these provisions.

Boy, I can’t imagine encountering a notice like this in a textbook used in schools today. Even if some of the provisions remain policy (i.e. a replacement fee is charged for losing a book), I’m guessing that the language would be much different. “Pupils” would be changed to “students”; students would be referred to in both the male and female pronouns; duty as a concept is so outdated and would not be mentioned (perhaps the softer “responsibility” would be used). What else do you think?

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