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South Carolina To Give 1 Laptop Per School Child

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the begins-at-home dept.

Education 279

ruphus13 sends in an OStatic article outlining the plans of the state of South Carolina, inspired by the One Laptop Per Child project, to provide laptops to local elementary school children. "The South Carolina Department of Education and the non-profit Palmetto Project have teamed up to get a laptop in the hands of every elementary school student in South Carolina... The OLPC/SC hopes to distribute as many as 50,000 laptops this spring to eligible students. The effort is underwritten and managed by the Palmetto Project, whose mission is to 'put new and creative ideas to work in South Carolina.' While low-performing school districts with limited resources are a special focus for the OLPC/SC, the group is adamant on one point: There are no free laptops. In order to receive a laptop, children need to give a small monetary donation — the project coordinators say a dollar or two is sufficient."It's not obvious from browsing around the OLPC/SC site what software the XO laptops will be running; but by following links one gets the impression that they will be powered by Linux, not XP.

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279 comments

Please (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27875311)

Please give one to Miss South Carolina too.

Re:Please (4, Funny)

kcinmodnar (1495903) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875351)

What about the kids in South Africa and Iraq?

Re:Please (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27875709)

I don't think the troll mod is fair. Parent was making a pretty good joke playing off the GP's post. Miss South Carolina or whatever was the one who talked about "we US Americans" and "THE Iraq." Remember?

Re:Please (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27875883)

Yeah? What about them? Too bad their countries and leaders suck, their problem.

Re:Please (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27875767)

Aimee Teegarden "Recent polls have shown that a fifth of Americans can't locate the US on a world map. Why do you think this is?"

Miss South Carolina Lauren Caitlin Upton
"I personally believe, that U.S. Americans,
are unable to do so,
because uh,
some, people out there, in our nation donâ(TM)t have maps.
and uh...
I believe that our education like such as in South Africa,
and the Iraq,
everywhere like such as...
and, I believe they should uh,
our education over here,
in the U.S. should help the U.S.
or should help South Africa,
and should help the Iraq and Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future,
for us."

Host Mario Lopez "Thank you very much South Carolina."

Re:Please (3, Funny)

Nomaxxx (1136289) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876347)

Please give one to Miss South Carolina too.

Yes, one that comes with Google Earth pre-installed.

Suprises (1)

PoliticalGamer (1548891) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875327)

Wow, im surprised they actually considered the idea instead of just sticking to what the textbook companies tell them is most important. A pleasant surprise, along with the possibility of linux.

Re:Suprises (2, Insightful)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875493)

I'm a big fan of laptops replacing textbooxs in the poorer regions of the world where kids cant get the books, but I dunno if it makes much sense in this situation.

Re:Suprises (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875823)

Parts of South Carolina(and other areas of the US) are in the poorer regions of the world where kids cant get the books...

Re:Suprises (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875857)

I know this is a bit of educational heresy but some subjects just aren't
that dynamic. The "tragedy" of having old textbooks is not really that
severe. Even stuff like "recent events" history could be covered by
supplementary materials.

Punctuation rules and the laws of motion don't change that much.

Re:Suprises (2, Insightful)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876041)

in California we keep having to get new textbooks to meet new government regulations. But this is the price we pay for legislating social re-engineering projects.

Is this such a good idea? (5, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875329)

They're giving laptops to "low-performing school districts with limited resources", but surely to actually use those laptops in lessons, the schools will have to spend even more of their limited resources setting up an infrastructure and new teaching plans?

Re:Is this such a good idea? (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875425)

They're giving laptops to "low-performing school districts with limited resources", but surely to actually use those laptops in lessons, the schools will have to spend even more of their limited resources setting up an infrastructure and new teaching plans?

What's interesting about this is this part from the article:

The child must sign a document promising simply to try to "do something great" for their state, families -- and themselves -- with the laptop.

It doesn't sound like they're putting these laptops in the hands of the children for the purpose of teachers utilizing them as teaching tools. And of course, with such a bold new technology, I would expect the teachers not to use them at all at first. Then learn to use them as an augmenting learning tool. And maybe the final stage five years from now is to have the textbook on the laptop and all that jazz.

I know a school teacher in the Bronx and from what she tells me it sounds like all other attempts to improve the learning process have failed or actually deterred from it. She sounds like she'd be willing to try anything.

Keep in mind that these laptops are probably going to cost the same as a couple of new textbooks. Who cares if it fails? It'd be great if a few kids did do something great for their state and family with these laptops.

Re:Is this such a good idea? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875593)

Ah, now I see, it's more like a project grant. We'll give you the tools, you better yourself. Always a good idea. That's what I get for skimming the article.

Re:Is this such a good idea? (1, Insightful)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875921)

They're giving laptops to "low-performing school districts with limited resources", but surely to actually use those laptops in lessons, the schools will have to spend even more of their limited resources setting up an infrastructure and new teaching plans?

What's interesting about this is this part from the article:

The child must sign a document promising simply to try to "do something great" for their state, families -- and themselves -- with the laptop.

It doesn't sound like they're putting these laptops in the hands of the children for the purpose of teachers utilizing them as teaching tools. And of course, with such a bold new technology, I would expect the teachers not to use them at all at first. Then learn to use them as an augmenting learning tool. And maybe the final stage five years from now is to have the textbook on the laptop and all that jazz.

I know a school teacher in the Bronx and from what she tells me it sounds like all other attempts to improve the learning process have failed or actually deterred from it. She sounds like she'd be willing to try anything.

Keep in mind that these laptops are probably going to cost the same as a couple of new textbooks. Who cares if it fails? It'd be great if a few kids did do something great for their state and family with these laptops.

Parents who care and teachers who can actually discipline the students will do far more for the kids' education than laptops.
If we went to a voucher system the schools could set their own policies-- "Yes most of our students achieve very high test scores, and we will take your child, but you must sign this consent form that we will be providing consequences for your child if he is acting up and disrupting the class". If the parents didn't like it they can just send their kids to another school.

I admit I haven't thought about it much, but I have yet to see a good argument against the voucher system. It would help weed out the bureaucracy and spending on school stadiums and football fields, too.

Re:Is this such a good idea? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27875993)

Well, that's a big NYC thing. As the son of two teachers(one of whom was also in the Bronx), I can say that almost everything action made in the last decade by the administration or city government has been made for aggressive destruction of the education system. They deprive the teachers of power, give it to people with little governing or teaching experience(or qualification), and try to streamline and standardize the education process further, as if it were a business.

At this rate the only way any of the kids in the city will learn the metric system is through drug trafficking, because all other methods of learning will have been thoroughly gutted.

Re:Is this such a good idea? (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875427)

Obviously, one cannot be sure if it is a good idea or not without real world testing, which hasn't happened yet; but the OLPC project is specifically designed with those concerns in mind.

A great deal of effort in both hardware and software design(ie. mesh networking, robust and easily repaired design, the bitfrost security model, the "school server" mechanism, easy system state restoration tools, etc.) was dedicated to making the cost and complexity of infrastructure and administration as low as possible. The system is designed to be usable without a class of dedicated technicians and network managers. With the mesh stuff, you can cut back substantially on access point density and ethernet cabling. With bitfrost, school server backups, and system state restoration, you can mostly leave administration in the hands to the students, with the option of easily blanking them if the student screws up.

I'm not saying that it is certain to work; but OLPC is designed with exactly those concerns in mind. Also, if a district is currently "low-performing" it already needs a new teaching plan, because the status quo isn't cutting it.

Re:Is this such a good idea? (3, Insightful)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875903)

As a once poor-kid-from-a-poor-neighborhood, I'd have loved to get a decent laptop as a kid. I did get a computer at one point, and a few (pirated) disks with... yes, games but mostly apps and docs, and it opened a whole new world for me: audio editing, animation, multimedia, 3d modelling and architecture, movie subtitling, programming... That computer did more for my future than anything else I learned in my teens.

If they're given laptops with internet, the effect could be even greater. Just one thing... I really hope they don't let the kids get on youtube with these, and think that's all computers are for. Or worse, get some stupid school "learn multiplication with bingo" app, and think that's all their computers can do. If so, it'll be a detriment, rather than an aid.

Re:Is this such a good idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27876193)

As a once poor-kid-from-a-poor-neighborhood, I'd have loved to get a decent laptop as a kid. I did get a computer at one point, and a few (pirated) disks with... yes, games but mostly apps and docs, and it opened a whole new world for me: audio editing, animation, multimedia, 3d modelling and architecture, movie subtitling, programming... That computer did more for my future than anything else I learned in my teens.

If they're given laptops with internet, the effect could be even greater. Just one thing... I really hope they don't let the kids get on youtube with these, and think that's all computers are for. Or worse, get some stupid school "learn multiplication with bingo" app, and think that's all their computers can do. If so, it'll be a detriment, rather than an aid.

theres no good way to do it. They will go to youtube. then a small percentage will get advantage of the laptop and do something great.

The point is, without it, they dont even get the chance to do something great. Now, while most of them wont, they *can*.

Some will realize the opportunity some will not, or some just wont be interested. That's how humans are right?

Re:Is this such a good idea? (4, Interesting)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875997)

My wife teachers here in SC, 3rd grade. I PRAY they don't try to incliude these things in lessons in any way!!! A BEST these would be forced into convoluded lesson plans. The applications ("activities") available on the XO are not really classroom usable. Sure, it can access Wikipedia, but that's not exactly something we need to be doing in a classroom when they typically already do that in the computer lab. These also don't run true Linux or Windows without being hacked, so using them to connect and interact with the smartboards, run applications the school curriculum teaches to, heck even using a traditional word processor is not viable.

What we're really doing here is simply giving each of these kids a basic educational toy. It;s somthing they can play with to learn on their own outside of the classroom, and to interact with other kids. They have very little interactive classroom value.

Also, advanced kids will hack them, so having them fully able to do what a teacher wants when they plan a lesson is questionable at best.

It's GREAT that they're giving these things to kids, but if the SC school board thinks they can use this as a marketing springbourd, and ask teachers to 1) learn a new OS, 2) learn the associated apps, 3) update their lesson plans to accomodate these systems (In SC each teacher writes their own plans, nothing is provided by the district or state, it's a MASSIVE amount of work!), then they're going to have a lot of teachers quit on them, or damand compensation or assistance.

The school system can NOT afford ANY increased costs. They've already lost (thank to our asshole govornor) $250 million in assistance funds, and have on top of that experinced budget cuts that care eliminating nearly all special programs, dramatically cutting field trips, and cutting 3,000 teachers. As it is, teachers are expect to buy THEIR OWN classroom supplies (glue, paper, consumables for science expereiments, etc) My wife is limited to 100 pieces of printed paper per week, but is required by state regulations to hand out nearly tripple that amount in required tests, quizzes, handouts, and communications. We go through a printer about once a year simply wearing it out. We go thorugh 300-400 pages a week printing at home, and several hundred dollar in ink anually. We do NOT get compensated for that. ($250 a year total compensation, for 2008 I have receipts for $1700 in classroom expenses we filed on ourt taxes). If they're THAT tight, how do they expect to afford the infrastructure and man power including these systems will require.

Thanks for giving me something for free that will cost me more money than not having it...

Re:Is this such a good idea? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27876395)

>We go thorugh 300-400 pages a week printing at home, and several hundred dollar in ink anually.

Pro-tip: Don't use an inkjet printer for this!!!11!!1

Here's what you must do today:

  - Buy used older HP Laserjet. Preferably a 4 or 5, although it's not all that important (just toner is cheaper for 600 dpi printers). You would probably benefit from a LaserJet 5si, since it takes HUGE toner carts.
  - Buy a toner refill kit (JFGI).
  - Buy toner.

Your cost for toner just went from several hundred dollars a year to a $200 initial investment + $40 of toner a year. Your cost per page for toner just plummeted to under 0.5 cents per page, even less if you print in economy mode. Refilling is relatively easy, although a bit messy. Considering you'll only need to do it once a year and the cost savings involved, a bit of mess is not a big deal. You should be able to refill the toner cart 4 or 5 times before you need to replace the drum (~$40 cost).

Best part? Your handouts won't run when they get wet.

You can thank me next year. :)

Re:Is this such a good idea? (3, Interesting)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876039)

My mum teaches in a school in the UK where some of the kids have free laptops (generally the ones that don't deserve them). She has to deal with

  • Kids who break their laptops on purpose
  • Kids who break their laptops through carelessness
  • Laptops being stolen
  • Laptops being "stolen"
  • Laptops not working when needed because they've been fiddled with

It's a while since I asked her about it though.

Re:Is this such a good idea? (1)

penguin_dance (536599) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876385)

Let me sound like the big meanie...but bear with me.

WHY are they doing this? Schools that have limited resources do NOT need to be spending money giving ELEMENTARY school children laptops. That's a luxury--especially for that age. They'd be better as spending the monies on books or other supplies.

We're hearing anecdotal stories about teachers who are spending THEIR money to help educate their class because there's not enough in the budget (except for the highly paid administrators, but that's another story). Why then not spend the money on those things?

These computers are going to get dropped, stolen, sold, etc. Even if a corporation wants to donate such, I would suggest that they instead donate the monies to go to books and other more necessary supplies. What next--will we feel every child should have a Kindle?

This country is swamped in debt--this is exactly the kind of spending of taxpayer dollars we DON'T need.

Re:Is this such a good idea? (1)

FatherDale (1535743) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876389)

Would like to see the Palmetto Project do something like replace the roofs and broken plumbing in schools in, say, Fairfield County or out near Augusta. A laptoy isn't going to do as much good.

As to Linux vs. XP (0, Flamebait)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875341)

I am QUITE sure that MS has about 100 ppl already surrounding all the pols and money (millions) is flowing VERY FREELY into re-elect campaign funds.

Just out of curiosity, does anybody know what chair balmer likes? I would like to buy some stock in them.

Re:As to Linux vs. XP (2, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875391)

Can we please drop the Balmer throws chairs joke?

Re:As to Linux vs. XP (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27875539)

"Can we please drop the Balmer throws chairs joke?"
No, just don't read them if you are offended.

Re:As to Linux vs. XP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27875705)

By the time you know it's a chair throwing joke you've already read it.

Re:As to Linux vs. XP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27875671)

Have patience! The knuckle-dragging mods who encourage this tired old shit will soon get bored and the problem will go away.

Sounds... good (1)

GreenTech11 (1471589) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875369)

This seems to be a good initiative, it would be better aimed at high schools though surely? Primary school aged children are less likely to need their own laptop.

That is nice but why? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27875371)

I admit to liking the idea of requiring a donation so the laptops aren't completely free. It is well known that you value the things that cost you more then those that don't.
However I am still left with the unsettling feeling of why give laptops to children? The US has health problems because kids aren't getting out and playing and instead sitting in front of video games, TVs and what not and we are going to give away laptops? I understand why kids should be exposed and be familiar with computers but shouldn't the elementary schools be focusing on the basics such as reading, writing, arithmetic and learning to be social at such and early age? Give them the computers when they are older and hopefully more responsible.
Maybe I'm just naive and old but I have yet to hear a good reason why children need laptops.

Re:That is nice but why? (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875641)

Maybe I'm just naive and old but I have yet to hear a good reason why children need laptops.

Agree. Maybe they don't need them, however that does not mean that they cannot benefit from them.

I'm unfamiliar with the specifics of this target population, but I've seen some pretty horrific 'family' situations through work & travel.

For many underpriviledged kids, school is a real 'haven', where they can gain some knowledge and competencies that - hopefully - will one day help them move on and up. Surely IT familiarity is a good one?

So, in the context of a carefully-(re)designed program, (agree with other posts above - computer-assisted learning is great, but only when integated in a holistic program), this should be good news.

As to the insightful post about eBay - yup, better keep 'em in school until you're sure the relatives won't hock them for food or drugs...

Re:That is nice but why? (3, Insightful)

bensafrickingenius (828123) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875657)

WTFE. "A dollar or two" as a donation isn't going to make even the poorest child/family value the thing any more than they would a completely free laptop. Seriously -- a DOLLAR OR TWO? If you want them to value it, you either need to make them pay for it in full (or almost) which of course is a non-starter, or make them work for it. Community service? Picking up litter at a park? I don't know -- *something*. A dollar or two is ridiculous on many fronts. The costs associated with collection and accounting for a dollar or two from every student will be astronomically high compared to the cost of giving them away for free.

Sweet (5, Funny)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875381)

Sounds like there will be a lot of cheap XOs on sale on eBay pretty soon - can't wait.

Re:Sweet (3, Insightful)

jbeale53 (1451655) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875837)

I'm not sure why this was modded as Funny. The first thing I thought of when I saw this article was all the poor families that are going to sell the laptops as soon as Junior brings it home.

Re:Sweet (4, Interesting)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876159)

I know of a blind boy, who suddenly lost his sight at age 14. The state (social services department, I think) gave him a special mobile phone -- full voice navigation through menus, it read out text messages etc. A couple of days later and he complains to one of his teachers that his mum has sold it. How many parents are so mean that they'd take their blind son's special phone? (And they weren't so poor that they needed the money.)

tossing laptops @ kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27875383)

is a maintainence nightmare. My guess is the schools will have piles of bornked OLPCs in a hurry.

Curious phrase - "dollar or two" (3, Interesting)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875389)

Is that just to avoid the laptop being "free" for political reason, to give it some value to the child, or is it the consideration needed to make the agreement a contract?

Re:Curious phrase - "dollar or two" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27875437)

I think this is to give a message to the children
that there is no free lunch. Just a message.

Re:Curious phrase - "dollar or two" (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875639)

Human psychology is rather quirky in its relation to perceived value. Homo Economicus' valuation of things might exactly match their monetary value; but humans exhibit significant discontinuities at the boundary between free/given and paid for/owned. Even minimal buy-in(though a few bucks, for a child in a low-income/underperforming SC school district may well not feel minimal) will likely substantially increase care for the laptops.

You see the same phenomenon elsewhere: People are often willing to do volunteer work for a wage of zero dollars; but would refuse to do the same work for an insultingly low wage, even though, theoretically, if you are willing to do something for $0/hour, you should be more willing to do it for $1/hour. A similar effect is seen with cash vs. non cash transactions. It is easy to get friends/students/volunteers to do things in exchange for, say, pizza, that they wouldn't be motivated to do in exchange for the value of the pizza given to them in cash.

Re:Curious phrase - "dollar or two" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27875959)

>>People are often willing to do volunteer work for a wage of zero dollars;

That's volunteer work, it's not for the wage.

>but would refuse to do the same work for an insultingly low wage, even though, theoretically, if you are willing to do something for $0/hour, you should be more willing to do it for $1/hour.

If you started doing that, word will go around that you do work at $1/hour and you'll not be able to succeed charging your normal rate anywhere after that.

>in exchange for, say, pizza, that they wouldn't be motivated to do in exchange for the value of the pizza given to them in cash.

And the time it takes me to get to the pizza place, get paper money from the ATM, the time it takes me to make a choice, to find a place to sit down and/or a friend to sit down to eat together with etcetc...

cheers,
    Danny
 

Re:Curious phrase - "dollar or two" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27876113)

Kids can't usually be bound by contracts, so consideration / performance is kind of immaterial in a legal sense. I suspect it's more to make the laptop valuable to the recipient, in a way that something free isn't (even when you know it's something expensive).

Why? (1, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875397)

Why? What is the point? Do they have any evidence indicating that getting a 9-year-old to make a promise will in any significant way improve his life?

Re:Why? (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875473)

I imagine it'll work about as well as making a 9yo promise not to have sex before marriage.

Perhaps South Carolina feels that they don't have enough home-grown criminals? Or merely ensure the students remain mediocre? It depends on if the child goes for the opposite of "great" or the opposite of "for South Carolina".

Real Estate (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27875429)

Hi Friends

Its a remarkable step by the South Carolina Department of Education to give 1 Laptop per School Child. This will help children learn about everything taught in Schools in detail. They will be updated about latest developments. Hats off to South Carolina Department of Education.
Friends to own a house is not a dream anymore. Own homes, shops at very reasonable rates.

James Christopher
http://www.fastrealestate.com.au

Holding my breath (2, Funny)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875483)

It's not obvious from browsing around the OLPC/SC site what software the XO laptops will be running; but by following links one gets the impression that they will be powered by Linux, not XP.

Forgive me if I take a wait-and-see approach on this until I hear what MS's PR department has to say about the project...

Re:Holding my breath (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27875597)

This will hellevate America!

I can already imagine it... (1, Insightful)

mutu310 (1546975) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875515)

"Hey mom, could you give me a hand updating my kernel please?" On an equally serious note, will they be disallowed to use WINE until they're of legal age?

Too Bad (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27875525)

As a computer professional, someone who has been involved in technology for decades, and the father of two elementary aged school children, all I can say is that if my children were offered computers, I would politely decline.

There are so many things that are better for young kids than sitting in front of a computer screen. I actually spent a lot of money sending my kids to a private school in their early years that explicitly kept computers out of the school -- they actually did art, played outside, and took long walks in the woods...

Re:Too Bad (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27875647)

see, when i was in school i had to learn math and science and english.

your (or anyone's) children can still do art, play outside, even walk in the woods if they had a computer. the computer aids in normal class time (the three R's, etc) it does not replace recess.

The elephant in the room... (5, Interesting)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875527)

Most of the teachers suck at what they do, and in poor places like South Carolina there are many parents who discourage their kids from being successful. Case in point, when we lived there, my mom tutored a kid at my school. You know what happened when he got an A on a test? His piece of shit excuse for human trash mother said to him "you actin' white now?" Technology is no solution for bad schools and students with parents who pull them down because they have ego or race problems (both apply in the case of the black mother who ridiculed the kid my white mother was trying to help succeed).

There is so little incentive now to get an education AND for schools to compete to hire people who have an education in something more than "education." Throwing around millions of dollars to buy laptops for kids who can barely read is more likely to have the state subsidizing the gaming, movie and porn industries than actually teaching these kids anything.

And here's the thing. People will crawl out of the woodwork in most cases to attack comments like mine about how I'm unfairly judging the public schools or am a closet racist for saying such harsh things about that black bitch who tore her poor son down everytime he succeeded. It's easier to make excuses for why the public schools are failing and why parents, especially poor parents, are often roadblocks to their kids' success than to start making hamburger out of the sacred cows and fixing the problem by introducing more competition and making an education more critical to just being able to get by in America.

Re:The elephant in the room... (1)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875653)

Your "actin white" example is a particularly stark one, but growing up in rural north carolina I saw similar amongst poor white kids, where it was implied that if working in the mill was good enough for your dad, and his dad, then if you wanted different you must think you're better than them.

Re:The elephant in the room... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27875865)

> My brother decided to screw all the girls that he could convince to drop their pants. I'm now posting on slashdot, he isn't even sure what a computer is.

Are you convince us that you're living a better life than your brother?

Re:The elephant in the room... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27875659)

I just want to ask a clearing point: do the teachers suck because it is the only job they can do or because they have given up on teaching? The end results are the same but how you solve the problem is different. Either way you do make a very good point.

An education is only worth what you think it is worth. I grew up in a family with low expectation but high possibilities and decided to run with the eduction. My brother decided to screw all the girls that he could convince to drop their pants. I'm now posting on slashdot, he isn't even sure what a computer is.

Re:The elephant in the room... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27875773)

This is the first time I've heard someone describe posting to Slashdot as an achievement.

Re:The elephant in the room... (1)

digsbo (1292334) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876195)

I briefly majored in education in college and my wife is a school psychologist. Many of my friends are teachers.

Basically, the educator curriculum in teaching colleges is designed around a ton of busywork related to pedagogy and doctrine; it is difficult for a creative person to put up with it. A few do, and graduate, and try really hard for a few years.

Inevitably in all but the best schools a passionate young teacher comes up against political battles (things like trying to fail a student who didn't try/show up/hand in any work) and/or the soul-crushing problem of managing a classroom with just one or two uncivilized savages whose parents are crack-addicted and incarcerated, and the overwhelming frustration of trying to teach 14 or 19 or 24 good kids with one or two real problem students overwhelms them. In what can be described as "working class" neighborhoods, there are a lot of 'parents' who don't get their kids to school, despite ridiculous levels of support, encouragement, special treatment, social workers, etc...

Paying more won't help. The teachers (probably about half to 2/3) eventually tune out or quit. Bless those saints who stay strong year after year.

The thing is, pay increases don't help. As John Taylor Gatto noted, the system is designed to destroy the family. Well it's succeeded at that, and now there is nothing to be done in some of these classrooms, no matter how good or devoted the teacher.

What it is coming down to, even for many of the selfless people in the helping professions, is an emerging clarity that giving something of enormous value (education) to people who refuse to participate, is a pointless, desperate, and demoralizing exercise.

Re:The elephant in the room... (1)

downix (84795) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875679)

It is not a white vs black thing however. I have seen as many white kids, latino kids, even asian kids with families that say the same hurtful and self destructive things. It's a cult of ignorance, where intelligence is despised and reviled, where being stupid and ignorant is all important.

Re:The elephant in the room... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27875763)

Well written... until the thing after the hamburgers.

Wow. This sharp turn from the hamburgers towards "competition" left me speechless.

Yes, the problems you mention better be fixed, and that's more important than distributing laptops among children. How "competition" is supposed to fix that escapes me though.

Re:The elephant in the room... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27875963)

Ask Sweden [wikipedia.org].

I got great teachers at an English state school, but it was a grammar (selective) school, so they could pick and choose their teachers.

[Posted AC because I thought the grandparent was insightful, and acted accordingly]

Re:The elephant in the room... (1)

mc1138 (718275) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875819)

You make a really good point. It's not even a rural thing either. I went to an urban high school with a high amount of students from the ghetto, and they were pretty much allowed to get away with anything, no one really cared to help them. I had a friend, AP student etc who cut class one time and got severely punished, when she complained that the ghetto kids did it all the time and got a fist pound from security when walking in, they told her that as a AP student they expected better from her. Double standards like that allow kids to get away with this nonsense and gives no incentive to improve.

Re:The elephant in the room... (1)

XorNand (517466) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875901)

I don't understand why you keep spreading the blame around to the school system when your anecdote clearly places the blame on a parent. Teachers don't go into teaching because it is easy or it pays well. The overwhelming majority of freshly minted teachers are extremely idealist when they first start. They are excited to help children learn. However, they quickly realize that their function is just a babysitter paid for by the state. The parents don't demand much else, so that's what the system produces. No, I don't blame the teachers nor the school system itself. The responsibility is solely that of the parents, and by extension, the tax payers and voters.

Re:The elephant in the room... (1)

Thaelon (250687) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876145)

Sadly most of them seem pretty motivated to me because they're incapable of anything else.

Looking back on my education - especially the early years - I'm furious at how little teaching they did and how much of my time they wasted with busy work.

I got where I am today (a developer with a 4 year bachelor degree in CS) despite most of my teachers, not because of them.

Re:The elephant in the room... (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876021)

It's easier to make excuses for why the public schools are failing and why parents, especially poor parents, are often roadblocks to their kids' success ...

I'm always puzzled by this. Obama made the statement in a speech recently that the number one predictor of a child's success in the classroom is the teacher. We've all heard that before. However, he followed it up by stating the the number one predictor "outside the classroom" is the parents' attitude toward education (ie, involvement). That follow up was notable in that it stated what few want to admit is a widespread problem -- parents don't value education.

I grew up in an immigrant household and we were probably a lot poorer than I'd care to remember. My parents, however, held education to such a high level that they considered a lack of interest in learning as indicative of poor character. It wasn't until I grew much older that I discovered the ideals of my upbringing have become quaint relics of another generation, and in certain wide swaths of our society, the respect for education is, if not absent, derided as unimportant, useless, or worse.

Quite frankly, I don't get it.

As for notebooks for grade schoolers, I'm sure they'll offer some benefits, at least for those who have the desire to take advantage of them. For those that don't, well, what can you do? If the parents don't value education, the kids probably won't, and all the laptops and talented teachers in the world won't make much of difference.

Re:The elephant in the room... (4, Informative)

querist (97166) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876127)

I don't even know where to start...

I agree with your overall assessment of South Carolina, having lived here for the past 15 years. There are clearly cultural issues that need to be overcome before any education initiative will be effective here.

South Carolina is strangely bipolar when it comes to education. The majority of the public schools seem to exist to maintain the status quo, teach to the PACT(1) test (or whatever its replacement is called), and keep the teachers employed through whatever means are leagal. South Carolina spends a very high percentage of taxes on education (as shown on the tax bills for property taxes as well as explained in state income tax booklets) yet we have some of the worst schools in the country. Apparently, Inez Tennebaum, our Secretary of Education for far too long, was publicly ridiculed on TV for her failures and she honestly thought she was doing a good job. Pretty sad, IMHO.

However, South Carolina also has some interesting charter schools - the good ones (e.g. Blythe Academy of Languages in Greenville) are in the wealthier neighbourhoods (no surprises there). There has been a large number of "online" charter schools lately. Unfortunately, the one we experienced with our son was run as effectively as a regular South Carolina public school. (In other words, it was pathetic.) I teach in an on-line program as well as on-campus at a large university, and I thought that the on-line charter school would be a good idea. I still think it could be, if done correctly.

There are many private schools in SC, catering to the wealthy. Some of them have tutions that are more than the state universities. (Surprisingly, some of the state universities in SC are very good, such as Clemson University and the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.)

Homeschooling is tolerated, barely. The majority of homeschoolers I have encountered do it for religious, rather than academic, reasons. We homeschool for academic reasons becasuse the SC schools are so bad. It is against SC law to segregate students (at least in the lower grades) by ability because someone decided it was discriminatory due to the fact that there were disproportionally fewer minority students in the advanced classes. Therefore, rather than look for a reason _why_ there were fewer minority students in the advanced classes they just decided that the practice of allowing gifted students to work at a more challenging pace without being held back by average students was racial discrimination.

I doubt those laptops will go anywhere but to public school kids.

(1) PAlmetto Achievement Test - the state created exam given to children every few years with the reported purpose of determining how well the schools are doing. Unfortunately, the teachers teach to the test instead of educating the children.

I find it interesting that the CAPTCHA for this post is "converse", which, beside its usual meaning, happens to be the name of a very good private all-women's college (Converse College) in Spartanburg, SC.

Re:The elephant in the room... (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876189)

An internet-connected computer is one of the best possible gifts for a child in a poor and education-hostile home setting. It would allow the student to reach out to people around the world, rather than being exposed only to the proudly ignorant community he is surrounded by in RL. The child could pursue intellectual curiosities with the encouragement of the peers he finds on the net, whereas, locally, he would find only discouragement.

Re:The elephant in the room... (1)

castironpigeon (1056188) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876333)

Agree with all of the parent post except this:

...fixing the problem by introducing more competition and making an education more critical to just being able to get by in America.

Do you realize just how much bitching and moaning would occur if people were forced to do anything to get by in this country? You don't need an education, welfare will take care of you. You don't need to procreate responsibly, welfare will take care of your kids. You don't need to watch your weight, you'll get disability pay and nobody will dare blame you for it. Hell, you don't need to take care of yourself at all - modern medicine will strive to keep you alive forever and they'll probably succeed depending on what your definition of alive is.

I'm sure this applies to plenty of other 'civilized' places in the world. I can only hope that there is a sudden outbreak of common sense before we suffocate in our own shit so we can find that happy middle ground between countries where responsibility is a dirty word and countries where responsibility means having to take a piss in the woods with your AK47 out.

First things first (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875607)

Some of the schools in the "Corridor of Shame" [corridorofshame.com] are falling apart so badly that they have to beg private companies for basic furniture [postandcourier.com]. The education department should at least get the basic facilities of the schools functioning before they start getting this extravagant. There are schools in the lowcountry that still don't have air-conditioning (in a state where it can get into the 100's, and a wet heat to boot) and have holes in the classroom walls you can see daylight through.

I, and my kids, like the XO (2, Insightful)

wandazulu (265281) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875615)

I got an XO second-hand from someone who had bought it from the G1G1 program, thinking she'd be getting a cheap, full-sized laptop, and was extremely disappointed.

I gave it to the kids and they absolutely love it. They use it for playing around with the paint program ("activity"), some music stuff, etc., Not exactly the "learning" experience a school kid might have with it, but at least they'd rather play with the computer and explore than watch tv.

Frankly, I'm *glad* it doesn't have XP on it; my 4 yo figured out how to do stuff on the XO without having to ask. It uses metaphors that a kid "gets". Do I care she's not "learning what she'll need in the real world?" Can you imagine still hitting the "start" button to do something in twenty years?

Plus I don't have to buy an anti-virus program to install it it. :)

Re:I, and my kids, like the XO (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875723)

This is slightly off topic; but how the hell did she get the impression that the XO was a "cheap, full-sized laptop"? I bought a G1G1 laptop, after following the project for a while, and they were pretty damn clear about what you were getting. The site is loaded with pictures, the text is quite clear on it being designed for small children, and the specs are available. how did she manage that one?

Re:I, and my kids, like the XO (1)

wandazulu (265281) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875907)

She's 5 feet even, so I guess she figured it would be full-sized for her. She also bought it because she saw it as another way she could "help growing humanity" (her words) so whatever her misunderstanding of the physical specs of the machine, I give her props for her charity.

Shaking Down Their Milk Money (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875677)

There are no free laptops. In order to receive a laptop, children need to give a small monetary donation -- the project coordinators say a dollar or two is sufficient.

Why is the dollar or two necessary to pay? Some kids don't even have enough money to eat properly every day. An extra dollar or two means skipping an (inadequate) meal or two. Why should they have to go hungrier? What's the point of extracting that dollar or two from them? What goes on in South Carolina that pressures the OLPC suppliers to be "adamant" that kids pay a dollar or two they don't have?

Re:Shaking Down Their Milk Money (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876023)

There are no free laptops. In order to receive a laptop, children need to give a small monetary donation -- the project coordinators say a dollar or two is sufficient.

Why is the dollar or two necessary to pay? Some kids don't even have enough money to eat properly every day. An extra dollar or two means skipping an (inadequate) meal or two. Why should they have to go hungrier? What's the point of extracting that dollar or two from them? What goes on in South Carolina that pressures the OLPC suppliers to be "adamant" that kids pay a dollar or two they don't have?

I think the idea is to give value to the notebook. Unfortunately, when many people are given something for free, they consider it worthless since they gave nothing of "worth" for it. By asking for something in return, it gives value to the notebook.

However, I do understand your point about a dollar having a much greater value to someone who sees dollars so rarely. With the school lunch program, that dollar could mean the difference between a lunch and 30 minutes of watching others eat. Still, I hope there is enough goodness in humanity that there is some leeway here. I would like to think that if a child truly could not spare a single dollar, that there would be some other method of adding "worth" to these notebooks. I could see something like, "Tell you what son, if you go pick up the trash in the hallway between second and third period, I'll pay the dollar for you." There could also be a charity or "scholarship" drive for these dollars or maybe even, "That last kid gave two dollars. Instead of saying he gave two, we'll say you each gave one. Now go pick up that trash."

Re:Shaking Down Their Milk Money (1)

FalcDot (1224920) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876147)

Quote from TFA:

The sentiment is of course wonderful -- no one is going to argue that point. What's even better, though, is that the laptops aren't truly "given away." An extra dollar or two might be a hardship for some families, but it won't likely break them -- and what's infinitely more important is the child pledging to try to make a difference, in front of family and friends -- and then being presented a powerful tool to make that happen.

If it's perfectly free, then every freeloader will line up for one, drowning out those who would gain most.

Re:Shaking Down Their Milk Money (2)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876227)

Each kid gets one. How does that have anything to do with what you just said?

Umm ... who cares about the OS? (1)

furytrader (1512517) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875717)

Can someone explain to me why what operating system these laptops run on is relevant to this story?

Re:Umm ... who cares about the OS? (1)

mutu310 (1546975) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876007)

The next generation of people from a US state to be familiar with and at ease with using Linux would go a long way to accepting Linux as a serious desktop contender.

It's not going to change the world, mind you, but it's yet another step towards demonopolisation of OSes :)

From money to computers (5, Insightful)

slapout (93640) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875747)

Looks like we've gone from throwing money at the problem to throwing computers at the problem.

Too bad they can't afford to give kids... (1)

Assmasher (456699) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875759)

...their textbooks as this is a prevalent problem in South Carolina. It's not dead last (usually) in education in the US because the kids don't have laptops, it's because they don't have the textbooks they need, enough teachers to go round, and half the schools are forced to use trailers for many of their classes due to the poor infrastructure; so, hurray, let's throw out 50,000 laptops to make things better. These are, of course, vast oversimplifications of the problems in education in South Carolina, but most assuredly the lack of 'laptops' per child is not an issue.

Wow, where did they get the money? (2, Interesting)

orsty3001 (1377575) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875827)

I live in South Carolina and already have to pay an extra $25 road tax on top of my vehicle taxes and watched my property tax double twice in the past 7 years with the complaint that our state doesn't have enough money to maintain it's services. Where did it get the money for this and why doesn't it go to lowering our already outrageous taxes that keep climbing every year?

Re:Wow, where did they get the money? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876339)

According to TFA, the Palmetto project, a private nonprofit [palmettoproject.org], is "underwriting and managing" the effort. I assume that the state department of education is going to incur at least some staff time on the project; but it appears to be a private sector thing. Presumably, it didn't go to lowering your taxes because a bunch of philanthropists are more interested in using their money to try to remedy some of the nation's lowest test scores, rather than the below-average property taxes that are oppressing you so grievously.

View of a SC Public School IT (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27875843)

Howdy, I do IT work for a fairly rural school district in SC. There are so many problems with this idea I don't know where to start.

Firstly, we've just recently had our fired/not fired meetings owing to the current budget crisis. The idea of giving up to 50,000 laptops to school children is noble, but the money would be better spent retaining teaching positions that are either being cut or lost due to attrition. I realize that's an apples-to-oranges comparison since this is more of a grant, but the truth is that most school districts are flooded with initiatives like this, Title 1 funding, etc. that can only be used for very specific purposes. Priorities need to be examined and these programs need to be reorganized. Federal funding is great and all, but it doesn't make much sense that a network closet that 20 computers run back to has 10 brand new switches in it while the school can't afford to retain its current teaching staff.

In addition to that there are a ton of infrastructure problems that need to be examined. Most schools in the great state of SC (and, I assume, most places) were built before the advent of widespread computer adoption in education. Power is a major issue. All the sudden the room that really only needed power to a TV and maybe 4-5 computers now needs to have the power capabilities to also handle 20-30 laptops as well. This is not to be underestimated.

How about network connectivity? Are we going to install network jacks in these classrooms for these laptops or put in WAPs? Who is going to pay for this new equipment/cabling?

How about all of the volume licensing agreements? Agreements for OSes, anti-virus clients, patch management systems, etc. are all done by volume. Who is going to pay for the additional licenses for these systems?

Maintenance? Is the grant going to give us enough spare laptops to cover for children while they're laptops are down for repair, students who forget laptops, etc? What about the increased workload of an already-thing IT department covering the additional laptops that will, in all likelihood, break more often?

And as for the Linux? I'm a FOSS advocate, run nix at home, etc. But you have to realize that *most* school/district IT departments are staffed by folks who were the most technologically proficient users at the time the equipment was installed, e.g. the librarian who knew how to install MS Office got promoted to be the head of the district IT department. Sorry, but supporting (or even running) Linux for a lot of these folks is over their heads.

Is all of this worth it to give young students laptops? Will this really foster that much additional learning?

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that someone is trying to promote the technology. Unfortunately there are a lot more pressing matters to take care of in SC schools and a lot of issues to tackle before this could be successfully implemented.

rural IT FOSS in education advocate (4, Insightful)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876273)

"Howdy, I do IT work for a fairly rural school district in SC. There are so many problems with this idea I don't know where to start"

Countries in the developing world such as the African nation of Rwanda [about.com] don't seem to have any such problems. As neither does Brazil [olpcnews.com].

"it doesn't make much sense that a network closet that 20 computers run back to has 10 brand new switches in it while the school can't afford to retain its current teaching staff"

Retraining FUD ..

"All the sudden the room that really only needed power to a TV and maybe 4-5 computers now needs to have the power capabilities to also handle 20-30 laptops as well. This is not to be underestimated"

I thought laptops ran off of batteries :)

"How about network connectivity? Are we going to install network jacks in these classrooms for these laptops or put in WAPs? Who is going to pay for this new equipment/cabling?"

The laptops utilize mesh networking so they can still provide functionality even without a central gateway.

"How about all of the volume licensing agreements? Agreements for OSes, anti-virus clients, patch management systems, etc. are all done by volume. Who is going to pay for the additional licenses for these systems?"

There are no 'volume licensing agreements', the XO isn't susceptible to such things as viruses

"I'm a FOSS advocate, run nix at home, etc"

You sure sound like it :)

Will anyone be surprised if (0, Troll)

AnalPerfume (1356177) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875905)

The announcement was made that the Linux version wasn't suitable after all and they've decided to go with XP instead after a donation from the Gates Foundation? Oh, and the guy who forgot to bow to the M$ lobby in the first place will be quietly fired for some dubious reason.

Re:Will anyone be surprised if (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876287)

why mod the parent as a troll, it is painfully obvious he describes out powerful corporations & industries manipulate the market to their advantage and to the disadvantage of their competitors...

i mod the parent insightful or the very least interesting...

I hope the laptops have to stay at school (1)

bensafrickingenius (828123) | more than 4 years ago | (#27875991)

Not only because of the risk of big brother hocking it downtown, but also for what I would think are even graver concerns. Take my situation, for starters. I'm a computer professional. I know all about the dangers of the Internet. I have a brilliant, beautiful, innocent, obedient, *GOOD* 10 year old daughter, who would LOVE for me to get her a netbook. Pink, of course. I'm terrified at the prospect of turning my little girl -- smart and good as she is -- loose on the Internet. Sure, there are lots of things I can do at home to protect her -- heck, I've even toyed with the idea of installing a keylogger on her system when I feel the time is right (ok, maybe that's going too far). And this is a kid I can TRUST! But what about when she's got her new toy at her friend's house? OK, ok, enough about my situation -- I think we can handle it. Now consider the situations of the children we're talking about today. (I'll be making a lot of assumptions and generalizations here -- please forgive me). No tech/Internet savvy authority figure at home. Heck, maybe not much of an authority figure at home at all! Peer pressures my daughter can't even imagine. Way too much unsupervised free time. A totally different upbringing than the one my kids have received. What's going to keep these kids safe? Oh well, I'm probably being naive and alarmist. And maybe for nothing, since the laptops will probably stay at the school anyway (no, I didn't RTFA).

Re:I hope the laptops have to stay at school (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876207)

I know all about the dangers of the Internet. I have a brilliant, beautiful, innocent, obedient, *GOOD* 10 year old daughter, who would LOVE for me to get her a netbook. Pink, of course. I'm terrified at the prospect of turning my little girl -- smart and good as she is -- loose on the Internet.

If she's old enough that she doesn't require full time supervision as with younger kids, maybe just having her account for where she's been and what she's been doing would suffice. For that, simple access logs would suffice. It's perfectly reasonable for a parent to call a school and another parent to "check up", so I'd say you'd be on safe ground with an occasional review of logs and regular chats about her activities.

A keylogger, by contrast, strikes me as unwarranted as she's done nothing to abuse your trust.

If it was me, I would get her one. And a pink one at that. Just be sure there's no webcam, though. Kids today and all that.

Re:I hope the laptops have to stay at school (1)

wertigon (1204486) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876299)

Sorry to say this, but...

As a parent, there will come a time when you have to "let go". Kids grow up. In a few years, she won't be that innocent girl anymore. She'll be a teenager, hormones raging everywhere, getting drunk, finding a guy and start having lots of "woohoo" - And, she will also probably discover the darker sides of the Internet with or without your help.

So, set a date. Could be on her twelfth birthday, or next christmas. Doesn't really matter. What matters is, that day is when you take your girl, and gradually let go. Let her discover things on her own. Tell her to be careful. And then, let her venture out alone. Be the kind of parent that your daughter feels can go and ask something, and get a clear answer. That way, once she does stumble across a "bad" webpage... You're there for her.

Anything else will probably result in your relations turning sour.

Re:I hope the laptops have to stay at school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27876405)

"She'll be a teenager, hormones raging everywhere, getting drunk, finding a guy and start having lots of "woohoo" "

Take it back you BASTARD!!!!! (I know, i know...sob)

Re:I hope the laptops have to stay at school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27876323)

If you install a keylogger and she finds out about it (and she will eventually), she'll never trust you anymore. Keep that in mind before even considering doing it.

keeping the kids safe (1)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876361)

"I'm terrified at the prospect of turning my little girl -- smart and good as she is -- loose on the Internet .. What's going to keep these kids safe? Oh well, I'm probably being naive and alarmist. And maybe for nothing, since the laptops will probably stay at the school anyway"

Going on the requests for how to bypass websence on 'Yahoo Answers', I would assume the school network is locked down to approved sites.

The bad example from Portugal (1)

wtfamidoinghere (1391517) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876165)

This is just like our own Magalhaes project ... and for what I read from the people above on this thread, it will be an equal fiasco, that is, if the objective is really to better kids education.
  On the other hand, maibe there, as here, the objective was quite diferent: making stupid PR in Iberoamerican summit, making PR about technology enhancements, PR, PR ... the end result? Most kids are still not able to get the damned little computer, not even paying, although there are several of them already found in pawn shops and similar ... oh man so much to write, so little time and patience ... Obviously the comps serve mostly for playing, there was no class integration whatsoever, etc etc etc... Alas, imagine all the bad things that can happen in such ill-conceived plan ... that's the way things are happening. I won't even bother to tell the completely tortuous way the project started, with lies about being a portuguese computer (it's an Intel Classmate with a custom sticker on the lid!!!!), about the total favouring of ONE company with public funds, no other company allowed to compete for the project ... a shame.

ps: sorry for the errors, english obviously's not my language :)

one good advantage is (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876247)

you can update the text on a computer a lot quicker and cheaper than redistributing new text books made from paper.

Laptops are a waste... (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876267)

Having taught a class at a university where they hand out laptops to every student, I'm convinced it's a huge mistake and counter-productive to the goal of providing a good education.

All these laptops do provide a huge distraction, and I teach a class where we need computers. As I walk around the class I'll notice them closing chat windows or minimizing browsers.

Having grown up around computers I know first hand how distracting they can be in the class, and we didn't even have anything like the internet at the time. Now, obviously it's far worse given how much these kids will have access to.

I certainly believe computers are invaluable and it's good to expose children to them early on. But students don't need their own laptops. What they need are good, current text books. A class with a focus on computers makes far more sense, or perhaps a couple of computers in each classroom for children to share.

Then there's the fact that most of these laptops wont survive the school year. College kids do a good job of trashing their machines it will only be worse with children.

Really what children need is a more challenging educational environment and more discipline needs to be imposed. And many parents need to be made more responsible for their children's education. Too many parents just don't care how their kids do in school or just accept the fact that their kids will under-perform. They don't discipline their kids like they should, but then get offended when a teacher tries to do so.

And I think there's too much fixation on trying to make education fun and approachable. Certainly it can be made entertaining and should be made so when practical. But when it comes down to it, it really is work. You're studying hard to get ahead in life, because it's your responsibility, not because you think it should be a game.

Americans seem to believe that throwing money at education will solve every problem. It hasn't solved anything and only aggravates the existing problems. The city where I live spends more per student, by far, than any other country on Earth and I'd say that the quality of education is sorely lacking.

laptops are a huge distraction (1)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876325)

"All these laptops do provide a huge distraction, and I teach a class where we need computers. As I walk around the class I'll notice them closing chat windows or minimizing browsers"

Tell them not to use their laptops while you are teaching ..

Laptops in schools can be a big headache (1)

Brewmeister_Z (1246424) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876277)

Many of the school districts in my state have a contract with Gateway to provide laptops for the high school students. These laptops run Windows XP but are somewhat locked down. One of the problems is that the maintaining the laptops has hit a snag since the company providing the warranty repair on them has filed for bankruptcy so about half of the computers are unusable now.

I really don't see the advantage of having kids lug around laptops between home and school. Back when I was in school, computer labs were adequate and would be easier to maintain. Currently, it would be better to have laptops assigned to the classrooms and not to the students. The students should be using a flash drive for their personal files instead. In any scenario, using a Windows OS means dealing with malware concerns. Students could bring in bad stuff on the flash drives from use on infected home computers. I suppose the OS on the school laptops could be booted from a read-only source so malware could not be installed between each student using a computer. I am not sure how well that works for Windows since I have only done something like that with an Ubuntu CD.

Done nationwide in Portugal (1)

carvalhao (774969) | more than 4 years ago | (#27876319)

All elementary students in Portugal are awarded a small computer (a custom ClassMate, actually) and older ones can get a standard laptop with UMTS access to the Internet for about 150 â (free for students who can't afford it).
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