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School Internet Program Audit Shows Fraud and Waste

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the information-superhighway-is-a-toll-road dept.

Education 387

uid0mako writes "CNN is reporting on the abuses of E-rate. E-rate is a government-sponsored program that provides discounted Internet access and internal connection gear such as wiring, adaptors and servers to underprivileged schools. One of the incidents includes $24 million spent on 74000 wireless network cards that never left the loading dock."

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387 comments

Hilarious! (-1, Offtopic)

imidazole2 (776413) | more than 10 years ago | (#9461911)

lol... check it out! http://www.serversunderthesun.com/tin/

Do tell!!!! (5, Funny)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 10 years ago | (#9461915)

What, fraud and corruption in a government run program paid for by the little guy? I find this so hard to believe!

*note to the sarcasm imparied: my tongue was firmly in cheek.

To make matters worse..., (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9461978)

...this might all be finance by *cough*, *cough*...you guessed right - DEFICIT SPENDING! Have a good day.

Leaving the dock (4, Funny)

antic (29198) | more than 10 years ago | (#9461918)

Who said that they needed to leave the loading dock? Aren't they wireless?

Har.

Re:Leaving the dock (0)

Dogers (446369) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462133)

ahh, but how did they find them on the loading dock still?

rfid tags?!?!

Re:Leaving the dock (2)

elFarto the 2nd (709099) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462139)

You can be sure they'll be leaving the dock now...In the backs of serveral cars

Regards
elFarto

Re:Leaving the dock (0)

hitech69 (78566) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462230)

Sounds like a completely acceptable cause.

Let's get this over with... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9461920)

How many journalists and lawmakers will play the 'Won't someone think of the children' card?

Anyone know where I can get a cheap network card? (-1, Offtopic)

stecoop (759508) | more than 10 years ago | (#9461921)

Preferably something below $32.43.

Re:Anyone know where I can get a cheap network car (1)

wishiwascool (60898) | more than 10 years ago | (#9461945)

Friends don't let friends do bad math:

24M / 74K = ~324.

Re:Anyone know where I can get a cheap network car (1)

stecoop (759508) | more than 10 years ago | (#9461970)

I did the calculations and didn't believe them so I did it in excel. I saw your post and was about to reply and said woops $324 - you know in calculus you the first test to determine if the numbers are correct is to just look and see if they are plausible - well I shouldn't have done that. Man I need to get a sales job like that.

I'd say thats fraud: (5, Insightful)

wishiwascool (60898) | more than 10 years ago | (#9461922)

24000000 / 74000 = ~$324/NIC

guess they weren't buying Netgear cards at that price... ouch!

from cnn: (4, Informative)

ikea5 (608732) | more than 10 years ago | (#9461996)

from cnn: The cards were purchased in 1999 for about $24 million, including supposed installation charges. The price is with installation charges included.

Re:from cnn: (1)

stecoop (759508) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462015)

So whoever got the contract to install them shouldn't get paid. The cards have been sitting on a dock for 5 yearss.

Re:from cnn: (1)

dubdays (410710) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462199)

Not only that, but the government agency/official/drone ought to be whacked for aggreeing to pay $200+ to install one of these cards considering it really takes all of FIVE MINUTES!

Re:from cnn: (3, Insightful)

jmauro (32523) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462274)

In 1999 the installation wasn't as easy or clean as it is today so it probably took a good hour. Drivers were buggy and sometimes Windows wouldn't play nice with them. The cards also cost in the neighborhood of $275-$300 to begin with. The price on those silly things has just come down in the last 2 years.

Re:from cnn: (0)

AKnightCowboy (608632) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462180)

rom cnn: The cards were purchased in 1999 for about $24 million, including supposed installation charges. The price is with installation charges included.

Don't forget the $15 million shipping and handling fee paid to the Teamsters Union to make sure the cards didn't accidently fall off the back of the truck in a, shall we say, less than reputable neighborhood.

I take it this is where my $5/month universal service fee tacked onto my phone bill is going. Thank god I know it's not wasted.

Re:I'd say thats fraud: (1)

dubdays (410710) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462155)

You know, the sad thing is that of the $24M, a good chunk of it was probably the cost of storing the things.

What I don't understand is why they would horde such a huge number of cards in the first place. I mean, 74,000 NICs is enough for every student at 2 large universities to get one. Somehow, while I feel that many public schools could use these things, it sure would take quite a few of them to get rid of 74k (at least, the ones who use them right).

Re:I'd say thats fraud: (5, Funny)

Sancho (17056) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462214)

The prices probably included thousands--if not millions--of feet of wireless ethernet cable.

What was one school doing... (4, Funny)

ArbiterOne (715233) | more than 10 years ago | (#9461927)

... with 74000 wireless network cards? Creating an geomagnetic field disturbance for science class?

Shame on them... (0)

mOoZik (698544) | more than 10 years ago | (#9461938)

I hope they get punished adequately for this. Companies never seem to learn that such acts - if discovered - will be hazardous to their business.

You're being sarcastic, right? (4, Insightful)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462142)

I sure hope you're being sarcastic and that's not a kneejerk reaction. The problem isn't companies, the problem is SCHOOLS being morons and taking all this "free money" and spending it on multi-million dollar solutions when a $100 switch and a box of cable would fit their needs.
The real problem is that this all paid for through a tax on your phone bill (think: Universal Service Fee, meaning most people never realize how much they pay for it) and the structuring of the program encourages waste. "Buy the biggest and best things that you can so we can get good PR for helping the children!" Meanwhile, anyone who questions the program's merits stands a chance of being labeled "against education" or even a racist, since the program (supposedly) exists to help poorer schools.

A better article [nytimes.com] on this can be found at the New York Times.

Re:You're being sarcastic, right? (1)

mOoZik (698544) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462211)

I was being a little sarcastic, but you can't say that companies are not to blame for this, even if partially. The items NEVER LEFT THE LOADING DOCK. Blame the schools for that, as well?

Re:Shame on them... (1)

igrp (732252) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462158)

Oh, companies, in fact, do learn and are, at least in my experience, usually quite forthcoming and helpful in helping authorities investigate incidents like this one (at least, after the fact).

People, on the other hand, generally tend to be less smart. Usually it's plain greed taking over. And quite often, you do hear excuses along the lines of "but nobody got harmed". It's a lot easier to scam some unknown big entity than some individual or small company you know and may even sympathize with. When greed is involved, loyalty (even to ones principles) goes right out of the window.

People usually wise up when the indictments come though.

Remodeling at ratepayer expense (5, Interesting)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 10 years ago | (#9461942)

Shortly after this program started, one of our local schools wired itself, and oh-so-coincidentally did it in a way that required recarpeting and painting the entire place to repair the "construction damage". All paid for out of the fund of course. I'll bet there are ten times more little scams like this that add up to way more than the big noticable ones.

Re:Remodeling at ratepayer expense (3, Insightful)

shione (666388) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462040)

If they needed new carpeting and painting in the first plae but couldnt get the funds for it, I don't think it's that bad as it would have been funded by the gov't anyway.

Re:Remodeling at ratepayer expense (2, Interesting)

jokach (462761) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462078)

I'd be interesting to see what kind of 'impovements' came of the school that received the 74000 wireless cards for 2.4 million ... do the math and I bet this school has the same new carpet, new paint, and a ton of neat-o expensive gadgets that suddently appeared around 1999. Wonder what their excuse was ...

Re:Remodeling at ratepayer expense (3, Interesting)

Eccles (932) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462149)

This is by no means limited to schools or computers, of course. (And heck, at least they were upgrading facilities that the county might not otherwise budget for.)

They're doing road construction near where I work. At one point, they put in part of the new road, connected it to the old, and then tore up the old road. Less than six months later, they put road back where the old road used to be, and closed the new section while they extended it. In other words, they tore up road they knew they were going to need again shortly thereafter, but undoubtedly they get paid more this way.

Re:Remodeling at ratepayer expense (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9462218)

They're doing road construction near where I work. At one point, they put in part of the new road, connected it to the old, and then tore up the old road. Less than six months later, they put road back where the old road used to be, and closed the new section while they extended it. In other words, they tore up road they knew they were going to need again shortly thereafter, but undoubtedly they get paid more this way.

No big deal, where I work they tore up the road to do sewer work, then nicely paved it. 2 weeks later some other company came along and tore it up again to do some other kind of work, paved it over nicely, and then 2 months later a third company came along and completely tore it up to do something else. Then 6 months after that there was an air pipe that exploded underground and closed the road for another 4 weeks. I'm amazed the road is finally now open again 2 years after the first construction began.

Re:Remodeling at ratepayer expense (1)

fw001 (789344) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462219)

Um I dont know about that.. The city is responsible for road construction and the funds tied into that, not the schools or even local businesses / residence. And if they went to that extent, there was probably something major under that road that needed to be fixed and required a temporary road to be constructed.

Situation Nortmal... (5, Insightful)

BJZQ8 (644168) | more than 10 years ago | (#9461946)

I have watched the e-Rate program since its inception, and am neck-deep in it now...this sort of thing happens over and over again. It is a multi-billion-dollar boondoggle, typical government program. Schools are forced to hire entire staffs, or outsource, just to fill out the hundreds of pages of paperwork. The end result? Rejection, or perhaps more paperwork. But in any case, all of those billions are funneled to IT giants like Microsoft and IBM, as well as the Telecom companies that are given "preference" for their stone-age T1 technology. Want to put in your own glass fiber between buildings? Not covered by e-Rate, because that would step on the phone company's toes. Better to lease a dozen T1 lines, in their eyes. The whole thing needs to be gamma-irradiated and shot into deep space...and the "Universal Service Fee" that covers it eliminated.

Re:Situation Nortmal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9462003)

Someone recently made an argument that the schools could SAVE MONEY by just denying federal funding, as the amount of effort you need to put into getting it does not make the payment worthwhile.

Posted anon because I dont remember who said it :(

Heard about this on Rush Limbaugh yesterday... (5, Interesting)

Jargon Scott (258797) | more than 10 years ago | (#9461956)

He was talking about a school system in Arizona (I believe) that spent some ridiculous amount on a system from IBM that was so complicated, the school system couldn't maintain it. The best part was how IBM "forsaw" that this would happen, and charged and additional $27M to build a "lavish support center" that the teachers could call for tech support.

What the hell's wrong with these people!?! (Not IBM, I think that part is hilarious)

Re:Heard about this on Rush Limbaugh yesterday... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9462102)

I heard that, too. Good to see other "Ditto Heads" reading Slashdot.

Anyway, I think that logic is flawed. Expecting faculty and administration to be able to maintain a "lavish" (a completely subjective term) network is not reasonable. That's why there are well-paid admins out there. The school faculty and administration should focus on what they were hired to do.

backdoc

Socialism does not work (5, Insightful)

gcaseye6677 (694805) | more than 10 years ago | (#9461959)

I'll keep this in mind when I get my next phone bill and notice the 30% taxes added on to it. At least half of that is the "Gore Tax", which was put to such great use as we see. Now that almost all American public schools have their intarweb installed, I see no reason to continue this financial rape of the public. This program should be phased out, since it has clearly outlived its usefulness. It's nothing less than irresponsible to suggest that a federal tax be used to pay the monthly internet bills for schools and libraries (neither of which are supposed to be federally controlled to begin with).

Re:Socialism does not work (-1, Flamebait)

setzman (541053) | more than 10 years ago | (#9461986)

schools and libraries (neither of which are supposed to be federally controlled to begin with).

Yeah, like the states and local governments would be able to do a better job. Grow up, dittohead.

Re:Socialism does not work (2, Insightful)

ThisNukes4u (752508) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462027)

Actually, thats the idea. Local governments are supposed to be more in touch with the local public and their needs than the big, scary fedral government. In practice this is far from the truth, as states' rights are being corroded, such as President Bush wanting to ban abortion in all of America. This should be unconstitutional. Every state should choose their own policy on abortion, as it affects the individual states more than the government. This is only one example.

Re:Socialism does not work (2, Insightful)

gcaseye6677 (694805) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462168)

Given a choice between paying for the fraud and waste in my local government and paying for Wanker County, Oklahoma's fraud and waste, I'd rather keep it local. At least I could vote against the people who were responsible. And if the citizens of a certain area, such as Chicago, are OK with government waste, that's their business. Besides, in this country we have this thing called a constitution, which limits federal power. Yes, this has been massively abused already, but I'd rather minimize federal taxes going to pay for things the feds were never intended to regulate.

Re:Socialism does not work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9462235)

/Obligatory British comment

Yes, there would be a lot of waste in Wanker County

Re:Socialism does not work (0, Troll)

ThisNukes4u (752508) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462002)

Which is why we should all vote LIBERTARIAN [lp.org] . They stand for what America is supposed to be, and they actually aren't afraid to say it and how it should be done.

Re:Socialism does not work (4, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462059)

I'll leave the flaming about socialism to others, but what clearly does not work is throwing a surcharge, tax or fine on one thing (telephone service, cigarettes, insider trading violations), accumulating a huge slush fund and then expecting that money to be used for its advertised purpose.

It's happening again with the fines on mutual funds (that are supposed to be going to "investor education") and it will happen again as soon as the vultures start shaking money loose from the fast-food companies.

Yes, of course... (1)

absurdist (758409) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462181)

...we should instead place our trust in all those benevolent capitalists, like Hitachi... ...oops, never mind. ;)

Not exactly (1)

seanmceligot (21501) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462224)

This just tells us that soclialism requires audits, just like capitalism requires competition. More auditors and penalties for fraud would improve just about every department of government. More real competition would improve most of our private services.

Re:Socialism does not work (3, Interesting)

BJZQ8 (644168) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462250)

What most people don't know is that a huge majority of the money doesn't go to internet access at all; it goes to the huge network of Microsoft Exchange Servers and Cisco 3725 routers that schools heap up for no reason. Additionally, things like voice mail and cell phones are covered under the program. It's really much, much bigger than most people realize...a wonderful form of corporate welfare.

Dammit! (4, Interesting)

Mz6 (741941) | more than 10 years ago | (#9461962)

Why couldn't they get access points? They could be the Robin Hood's of the Wireless World setting up AP all over the USA!

Ahh.. i can dream atleast...

Re:Dammit! (1)

marnargulus (776948) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462265)

More likely the "johnny accesspoint", since apparently they have bundles of cash already.

Why do we have to put up with this constant BS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9461964)

Fire these numbnuts and throw some asses in jail.

Duplicate (who would have guessed?) (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9461965)

It's basically the same story [slashdot.org] as told earlier.

Slashot is a write-mostly medium.

Re:Duplicate (who would have guessed?) (3, Informative)

makomk (752139) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462069)

It's basically the same story [slashdot.org] [slashdot.org] as told earlier.

No, more like a new developement in the story (though anyone who hasn't read the previous story yet should do NOW!)

Internet in schools... (5, Interesting)

bludstone (103539) | more than 10 years ago | (#9461975)

Is not an entierly bad idea, but its not being done properly.

First off, not every kid should have an internet connection. Period. The Internet is not sesame street (which every kid SHOULD have.) In fact, I consider it more like the streets of NYC, at night, in the bad part of town.

Its simply not safe for kids to have un-guided access while at school. Blocking programs are even worse. As such, internet connections should be wide open and subjet to constant teacher review. Perhaps a single lab, with all monitors in view of the proctor would be considered adequate.

The rest of the money here is simply wasted. The current problems with america's education system is epidemic. Youve got underpaid, unmotivated and uneducated teachers, attempting to simply control a group of apathetic and uncaring students, who have little to no motivation and guidance from their gaurdians. The problem cannot be pinned on any single group. Everyone is messing up here, equally.

And as Americas education system continues to collapse the nation will be seriously hurt by this. A nation of unmotivated morons cannot compete with.. well.. india. Nor should we be able to. I dont know if youve looked at the job market in minute detail, but a major part of the problem is that people are too incompetant to do the job.

Re:Internet in schools... (0, Flamebait)

Cpyder (57655) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462092)

First off, not every kid should have an internet connection. Period.

I agree. They should get spelling lessons first.

entierly, Its, subjet, problems ... is, Youve, gaurdians, Americas, youve

A major part of the problem is that people are too incompetant to do the job.

I know you are..

Re: Ad hominem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9462267)

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/ad-homine m.html

An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument. Typically, this fallacy involves two steps. First, an attack against the character of person making the claim, her circumstances, or her actions is made (or the character, circumstances, or actions of the person reporting the claim). Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim or argument the person in question is making (or presenting).

Re:Internet in schools... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9462134)

Where did you go to school? My high school was about the opposite of what you describe, and most people who come out have a really bright future. Just because your life sucks doesn't mean everyone else's does too.

Re:Internet in schools... (2, Interesting)

jrsimmons (469818) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462170)

First off, not every kid should have an internet connection. Period. The Internet is not sesame street (which every kid SHOULD have.) In fact, I consider it more like the streets of NYC, at night, in the bad part of town.
While I agree that not every kid should have an internet connection, I don't believe it is because of the dangers of the 'net. Cost is truly the prohibiting factor here. Internet connections into the classroom increase classroom efficiency. Labs only improve student efficiency outside of class, and then only when the student has free time during the day to go to the lab (rather than another class). The solution to inappropriate content in the public schools is not the lock down net. As a public provided service, it is well within the school's rights (and the student's best interest), for the sites visited from the public computers to be monitored. Proper supervision of this type can keep inappropriate content in check.

The rest of the money here is simply wasted. The current problems with america's education system is epidemic. Youve got underpaid, unmotivated and uneducated teachers, attempting to simply control a group of apathetic and uncaring students, who have little to no motivation and guidance from their gaurdians. The problem cannot be pinned on any single group. Everyone is messing up here, equally.
While I'm sure there are some people who fit this image, it is unfair to cast this sterotype on the entire education system as a whole. Countries like India, China, Japan, etc, do not attempt to educate EVERY child. The consequence of inadequate performance is often horrible. Is this how we should incent our children in the US? I'd rather not. If education standards in the US are so poor, then why do we still have so many international students [iienetwork.org] in our Colleges and Universities? We have problems in our education system partly because our goal of "teach every child, equally and fairly" is so high.

Re:Internet in schools... (1)

bludstone (103539) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462238)

Sorry, perhaps I should of been more specific. I was talking about highschools, not universities and colleges.


Proper supervision of this type can keep inappropriate content in check.


I agree. Thats why I suggested a physical layout solution, rather then a technological one. Kids should not be browsing porn or videogaming sites while at school.


I was purposefully vague when referring to India. When you look at the percentages, America is doing much better. But those really dont matter. Its the raw numbers that do, and India is churning out more, better educated people then America.


The consequence of inadequate performance is often horrible. Is this how we should incent our children in the US? I'd rather not.


I argue against your assertion. I think that a highschool diploma is _not_ a right, but should be something you actually have to work for or face the consequences. We shouldnt attempt to educate every child equally, only those that put forth the effort to be educated (and _can_ be)

Re:Internet in schools... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9462183)

"Youve got underpaid, unmotivated and uneducated teachers"

My brother in law is a teacher. I read a lot of book and one day he asked me why I bothered reading so much books and what I could possibly see in them.

I can accept that from your average Joe, hell I even expect it, but from a TEACHER it's just shocking. At least it is for me.

Re:Internet in schools... (1)

GypC (7592) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462264)

The average American teacher's salary is higher than that of the average Japanese teacher. The difference is probably that, while American teachers spend 2/3 of class time "teaching" "self-esteem", Japanese teachers are teaching math, grammar, and history.

BTW, NYC gets a bad rap. It's not even on the top 25 most dangerous cities in America.

This just in (5, Funny)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 10 years ago | (#9461979)

Education bureaucrats waste large amounts of money.

In other news, the sky was reportedly blue this morning and there seems to be a large amount of water west of Oregon.

More late-breaking news as it becomes available. We now return you to your regularly scheduled argument about text editors.

Re:This just in (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9462028)

Flamebait my ass. Stupid moderators

Vi! (3, Funny)

suso (153703) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462120)

Vi is better.

Re:Vi! (1)

kahei (466208) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462207)


No, vim is better!

Typical of school systems (3, Interesting)

xsupergr0verx (758121) | more than 10 years ago | (#9461991)

I just finished high school at a public school. This is not at all uncommon. They spent $50k on a lab for the CCNA students and found the two worst teachers I have ever had to teach it. Both were underqualified and took the same 4 semester course over the space of 2 weeks. Obviously, they passed the class instead of learned the material, and it showed. Of the 18 students who started the first year (myself included), only 3 made it to the next year, Semester 3. Cheating was rampant on tests as the teacher thought his time was better spent ticking out emails and doing lesson plans for his biology classes than enforcing anti cheating measures.

After the 15/18 failure rate, he was replaced the next year. This new teacher was even more awful. He took the course the same way, and used us remaining 3 students to "help him" rebuild the lab. This involved taking old donated computers from the A+ lab and making them seaworthy for the class. Oh, and grabbing some old desks from the woodshop on the other side of the campus and doing chimp work with a drill to make them able to stand. Of the 3 remaining second year students, all of us dropped out. Of his 24 first year students, all of them dropped out as well.

These wastes of money were apparant, we got these expensive routers and bridges and our teachers were unable to answer simple questions about them. Useless, I think the routers ended up being shipped to another school so they could try their hand at the CCNA program.
Oh, and other schools in the district have had the CCNA program for a few years, and are turning out graduates due to good (suprise!) teachers.

Re:Typical of school systems (1)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462176)

CCNA being taught at the High School level? That's a bad idea in and of itself, but I doubt that it was paid for be E-Rate.....unless this is another abuse of the program. Most likely the sales guys presented to the executive oversight committee which MAY have had only one support person on it and he was of the type that said ooo...CISCO...COOL....let's get it!

Surprised? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9461993)

Why the surprise?

This is just another line charge placed on the American taxpayer designed to make some elected official either "feel" that he or she is "trying to make a difference" in the lives of some poor students. What a waste of the taxpayers money!

When will the dialogue in the US ever turn to spending cuts and elimination of wasteful programs in order to solve tax revenue shortfalls?

Money well spent? (4, Insightful)

Blackaxis (757860) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462000)

"The program, run by the FCC and administered by a not-for-profit corporation, is widely credited for helping poor and rural schools get wired, giving students better learning tools." .. Of all the problems with poor and rural schools, they spend money on this? Technology is a good thing, but when my rural school only had an 800 average SAT score (of the people motivated enough to take it), you have to wonder why resources get wasted like this.

74,000 wireless cards (1)

zoglmannk (12757) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462005)

Anyone know what the heck they are going to do with all those wireless cards? Surely they aren't going to continue to sit at the warehouse.

The article also mentions nothing about what is going to happen to the institution and companies involved. Is it just me or are news articles a little week now a days? or is it that peoples' attention span has shorten and so too must the articles?

Re:74,000 wireless cards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9462251)

did you fail to notice that the 74,000 wireless cards cost over $300.00 each??? I dont care what kind of bullcrap someone tries to come up with for justifying "shipping and handling costs" or "installation costs" they are all pure lies.

I can get a wireless card, brand name, bought, delivered and INSTALLED from a local vendor for no more than $120.00 that is INSTALLED... somone came here and put it in the computer after they carried it from the store.

Predictable due to design of 1996 Gore tax (5, Insightful)

XavierItzmann (687234) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462006)

a) 1996 - Gore/Clinton tax *your* phone bill to "put internet on every school"

b) Any school can spend whatever money and get the ERATE fund to reimburse the school

Waste and abuse happens because this tax should not even have existed to begin with. If school districts had to spend their own money, based on *local* taxation, this sort of careless purchasing would not happen.

You vote for politicians who introduce taxes, you bring this upon yourself.


Re:Predictable due to design of 1996 Gore tax (3, Insightful)

velo_mike (666386) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462043)

If school districts had to spend their own money, based on *local* taxation, this sort of careless purchasing would not happen.

Sure it would, schools are notorious for misspending money no matter how they get it. As long as it comes from mandatory taxes, this kind of waste will continue.

Re:Predictable due to design of 1996 Gore tax (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9462107)

Not entirely true...schools cannot spend anything they want and get it reimbursed. School's e-rate reimbursemnent is based on the number of "disadvantaged" students in the district. A school with a higher rate of (economically) "disadvantaged" students gets a higher percentage back on some services. For example...a school with a very high rate of disadvantaged students, like many inner-city school districts, might get 100% back on their internet and phone services, but a school with few disadvantaged students might not get anything back.

This is how public schools work (0)

lorcha (464930) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462022)

The US public school system is tremendously wasteful. When I was in school (which takes us back to way before the e-rate program), there were enough kickbacks, cock-ups, and wasteful layers of redundant bureaucracy to keep me writing all morning and not get any work done.

My friends who are teachers confirm that nothing has changed. So this article comes as no surprise.

Re:This is how public schools work (2, Informative)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462137)

> The US public school system is
> tremendously wasteful.

The worst thing is that even if you homeschool your kids, you still pay taxes to support public schools. So you pay double - once for the homeschool books/supplies/etc and once into the maw of the Dept of Education.

Re:This is how public schools work (1)

UnderScan (470605) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462268)

TOO TRUE! Corruption & theft is too common in our Long Island schools.

High-tech purchases are questioned. Invoices show computer store items, bought with district funds, used at officials' homes [newsday.com]
BY KARLA SCHUSTER AND EDEN LAIKIN
STAFF WRITERS
June 15, 2004
The Roslyn public schools spent tens of thousands of dollars at a computer store for equipment, electronic games and movies that ended up in the homes of consultants, former district officials and their families, records show.


District opens 2 probes of finances [newsday.com]
Uniondale School officials have launched investigations into alleged overtime abuses by custodial staff and are examining financial records concerning a $4.8 million telecommunications project.

Maybe they would not have to consider cutting budgets if there was less theft from the taxpayers.

School districts resubmitting budgets for vote whether submitting same plan or one with cuts, districts face losing backing of key groups or protest vote [newsday.com]
More than a quarter of the 45 Long Island districts that lost budget votes last month are submitting identical spending plans to voters starting this week, even as other districts absorb painful cuts in art, music and summer classes.

Come on Bush!! (3, Funny)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462023)

I think we need to get George Bush more directly involved to find out what's going on here and to ask the really tough questions like, "Is our children learning?"

Re:Come on Bush!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9462032)

"Is our children learning?"

And that moron is a Yale graduate, right? HA!

More fallout from the 80s (2, Funny)

malus (6786) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462033)

This is called "Trickle down economics". The Teamsters get the cash, and it trickles down to the rest of us

Re:More fallout from the 80s (0)

setzman (541053) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462056)

I thank Ronald Reagan for this. Now that the freepers and other wingnuts are calling upon their god to revive Reagan's spirit, they may succeed in bringing back the trickle down model. We must stop them!

That's a lot of bandwidth (2, Funny)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462049)

Never underestimate the bandwidth of 74000 network cards on a truck that has never left the loading dock.

Re:That's a lot of bandwidth (1)

Matey-O (518004) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462110)

Nah, what they're not telling you is:

They only budgets for one AP

Less than 11mbps (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462136)

Actually, when you consider they're all contending for the same frequencies, even with spread-spectrum channel hopping, you're not going to get even close to the theoretical max with so many devices talking at the same time.

[In the days before switched circuits, you'd run into problems when you started nearing 50% of your bandwidth with ethernet... I don't know how much better the collision handling is in 802.11b/g, but I'm guessing it's not so good that it can handle 74k nodes simultaneously talking.]

And yes, I know the joke that you're alluding to -- but that one's accurate, and we still use it. [well, maybe not a whole station wagon full]

Computers in schools (3, Interesting)

jesterzog (189797) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462057)

It's a shame that there appears to be so much abuse of this programme. Sometimes I wonder if these types of programmes are really necessary, though. Mostly out of interest, what kinds of advantages do children actually get out of having computers in schools? By themselves the use of computers certainly doesn't cover the primary topics that schools are usually expected to teach, so presumably there's some expectation that having them there will either hugely benefit children in some other way, or will positively enhance the effects existing teaching.

I guess that in theory children can get used to having them around. To some extent it means that computers would be available for someone who might be able to learn from them extensively if they wouldn't have been able to otherwise. But is anyone out there aware of any actual research that demonstrates that computers in schools results in a verifiable positive return? (Keeping in mind that lots of people who never had computers in school were simply trained in the workplace.)

I don't mean to criticise, but I ask because I see a lot of people and governments claiming that it's a good thing. On the other hand, I haven't actually seen much evidence or that much that might convince me that we're much better off than we were a few years ago, when significantly fewer schools had access to computers.

I also don't mean to imply that maybe schools shouldn't have computers at all --- only that pouring vast amounts of money into actively supporting an infrastructure that deprecates so quickly might not be very effective. If the availability of technology means that most of people will already end up having reasonable computers in their homes within the next decade anyway, then pushing them so much in schools could be quite obsolete.

I blame... (1)

Suit_N_Tie (128024) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462076)

John Ashcroft. Why? Because, apparently he is the cause of all the woes in the USA... oh and George Bush too... (BTW that's sarcasm!)

Re:I blame... (1)

dasmegabyte (267018) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462165)

It's government. People who have power also have friends and they're going to try to help them out because that's human nature. The result is graft. But I'll take $2.25 billion in school graft that MAY have put internet into the hands of kids over $100 billion in reach around contracts to private industry rebuild a country we fucking broke in the first place, or $400+ billion in defense contracts that indemnify the contractors, allowing them to build shoddy merchandise and still get paid regularly for the length of the contract.

Unacceptably high rate of fraud? (1)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462088)

There should not be ANY fraud! Oh wait....this is government funded pork.. I forgot.

I worked at a school... (5, Interesting)

Fenis-Wolf (239374) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462094)

That took advantage of this program. Our district received a massive government grant (in excess of 20 million? I think). This was of course split up between 5 seperate smaller districts in small towns. Each one of these districts had an elementary, middle school, and high school. In addition there was a Vocation School. This money from the government lead to a massive revamp of IT services in all those schools which included:
-Connecting 5 towns to the Vocation School with redundant fiber lines
-Purchasing top notch routing and server equipment for each of the schools
-purchasing in excess of 200 brand new computers for each building
-and the founding of an Internet Service Provider which server the area as a dial up provider and as the central hub that tied the schools together.
It also led to the vocational school receiving much needed tech upgrades to CS labs and the Photo and Design Mac labs.
When this government money is well spent, it can be a great force for good. But once a unscrupulous contracter gets his hands on those kind of funs, these massive frauds occur.

I hope they don't nerf this... (4, Interesting)

Raleel (30913) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462103)

Despite the fact that there are abuses, and they may be wide spread, I was part of a group of students who wired a dozen or so schools in the town where I went to college. we did the network diagrams, organized the groups, taught people how to do patch panels and the like.

It was in the top three most rewarding experiences in my life, and one of the most valuable for jobs skills. it was a truly unique experience, and I would hate to see this go away because some people can't freaking be honest.

I'd be happy with oversight (lots of stuff needs oversight) but don't remove it. I heard that there was a proposal to just turn it into generic school grants or something, and I think that would be a mistake as well :)

This is the typical way things get done... (1)

Dagny Taggert (785517) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462115)

...any time you have lifelong beauracrats running a program---they are more interested in prolonging the program than accomplishing anything. I believe we need to get back to the 19th century in terms of our government, where all federal jobs are up for replacement with each new administration. I know it would be a nightmare, but maybe someone would think it was time to cut some of the dead wood out instead of replacing it.

Re:This is the typical way things get done... (1)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462240)

Nah. All you end up with is someones "REALLY GREAT" idea every flipping administration. Think about every time some new "Education Technique" rippled through your school. For me, it was every other year. About the only thing I learned consistently was that I was going to be learning another way in a year's time.

(I'm still bitter because in my Senior Year they decided to try "Intensive Scheduling" where you take the course for double periods but only half the year. When the AP test rolled around I was either halfway through the course, or hadn't seen the material in 12 weeks.)

I work for a state education agency.... (groan) (2, Interesting)

tenaciousdRules (518041) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462173)

First, Kids need to read books at school. Google is great.... for the LITERATE. Now, I am programmer/analyst and my charge is to write the code that performs analysis on student test data. The results my programs output are factored into deciding wether or not a particular school/district is "making it" according to the Bush endorsed "No Child Left Behind Act". Billions of dollars of federal money are on the line. I am performing these analyses on my state issued Pentium III with 128 megs of RAM and a 15" monitor. I think this computer cost $3.49 at Comp USA. Some ass just allowed a purchase of 27 Meelion dollars worth of new fangled walkie-talkies and I can't get a flat screen or at least a $5 stick of RAM?

Re:I work for a state education agency.... (groan) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9462229)

Buy your own laptop then, Cashy McSpendthetaxpayersmoney.

They Don't Know What They're Doing, So Spend! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9462177)

It's our money of course, but what the heck? Just keep spending. If you disagree, you must be against the children.

Apathy (5, Insightful)

mccalli (323026) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462190)

I'm reading a lot of comments along the lines of "This is a surprise?", and "so? That's the way these things go". This is depressing.

Look - a clear and serious fraud has been commited. People should be livid about this, even more so if this kind of behaviour is the norm. Just because it always happens doesn't make it right, and only pressure and accountability will ever sort the situation out. Shrugging the shoulders and going "so?" is really not all that helpful.

Cheers,
Ian

We must restore property rights (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9462193)

By turning all landowners into renters from the school board we have given these bureaucrats way too much power. Year after year landowners pour money into the school system even if they have never placed their children into the local system. This power imbalance can't be fixed without dropping property taxes and restoring property rights. Money is power and spending all of the money budgeted (and more) is the way you preserve the power. Our school systems have become a NEA jobs program first, an underfunded teachers retirement plan second, and an educational system third (if at all). Until we end tyranny and restore property right this will never be fixed. The power balanced is too skewed as long as the right to endlessly tax property exists.

Re:We must restore property rights (1)

user no. 590291 (590291) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462241)

Do you propose to eliminate compulsory public education and have feral children wandering the streets during the day, or do you have an alternate plan to describe?

Corruption in schools, never (1)

whyne (784135) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462197)

What corruption in a school; Never. I thought all board members and administrators are highly educated. When they bought 10 trailers for my child and his friends to go to class in from "A construction company, Inc." whose president Bob Jones is heartbroken that their building is late. This is necessary because "His Construction, Inc." is over budget and 3 years late. As chairman of the for the construction company board Bob Jones is upset. I also just learned that the new building is almost finished but "His Inspecting, Inc." just found out that the new building is not up to code and needs 3 million to fix. Bob Jones as CEO and lead inspector commented that he is almost in tears.

how much were these cards?!? (2, Insightful)

CaptainFrito (599630) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462215)

that amounts to $324 per wireless card. In these quantities, they should run about $40 even for latest-and-greatest super b/g cards.

I think that the never leaving the loading dock issue is the smallest issue here. the price should tell you that actually shipping these cards was probably irrelevant from the beginning.

wonder how much they spent on the access points...

Re:how much were these cards?!? (1)

Kredal (566494) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462233)

These were bought in 1999, not 2004, and the 24 million included installation charges. RTFA.

Obligatory South Park Reference (0)

krgallagher (743575) | more than 10 years ago | (#9462223)

"$24 million spent on 74000 wireless network cards that never left the loading dock."

Wow! I can't believe I get to do this one!
Let's See:

  1. Defraud the government of $24,000,000.00
  2. ????????
  3. Profit

Re:Obligatory South Park Reference (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9462245)

"Wow! I can't believe I get to do this one!
Let's See:

1. Defraud the government of $24,000,000.00
2. ????????
3. Profit

I hate to break it to you... but there's only 1 step in this business plan.

1. Defraud the government of $24,000,000.00 = Profit

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