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No Child Left Untableted

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the get-your-device dept.

Education 214

theodp writes "Made possible by a $30 million grant from the Dept. of Education's Race to the Top program, the NY Times reports that every student and teacher in 18 of Guilford County's (NC) middle schools is receiving a tablet created and sold by Amplify, a division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. The tablets — 15,450 in all — are to be used for class work, homework, educational games — just about everything. With a total annual per unit lease cost of $214, Amplify was the low bidder of those responding to Guilford's Race-to-the-Top RFP, including Apple. Touted by Amplify as one of the largest tablet deployments in K-12 education, the deal raised some eyebrows, since Guilford's School Superintendent once reported to an Amplify EVP when the latter was the superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, coincidentally a proving ground of the Gates Foundation. Amplify and the Gates Foundation are partners on a controversial national K-12 student tracking database that counts the Guilford County Schools among its guinea pigs. Getting back to the hardware, after putting their John Hancock on a Student Tablet Agreement and the Acceptable Use Guidelines for Tablet, students are provided with an ASUS-made tablet "similar to ASUS MeMO Pad ME301T" ($279 at Wal-Mart). The News & Record reports on some glitches encountered in the first week of the program, including Internet connectivity issues affecting about 5% of the tablets."

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214 comments

annual of $214! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44855813)

Annual per unit lease cost of $214 that would get you a new Nexus one every year. Someone is making a pretty penny (or dime)

Re:annual of $214! (1, Interesting)

wjcofkc (964165) | about 7 months ago | (#44855901)

That's just the hardware. Now, at $214 a pop, that is orders of magnitude less expensive than textbooks. This leads us to the question of the educational software running on these units, who makes it and how much it costs. I also need convincing that school books on a tablet are at least as effective as textbooks. Not to mention, while we may be sparing children of back problems, what is the long term affect on a students eyes when they are staring at back lit tablets all day and far more than the average tablet user?

Then again, if the material is not being standardized by Texas, that's a win win I suppose.

Re:annual of $214! (1)

khallow (566160) | about 7 months ago | (#44855973)

Now, at $214 a pop, that is orders of magnitude less expensive than textbooks.

Per year. It isn't orders of magnitude less expensive than textbooks, even if one leases the textbooks like one is leasing the tablets.

Re:annual of $214! (3, Insightful)

dfghjk (711126) | about 7 months ago | (#44856215)

"Now, at $214 a pop, that is orders of magnitude less expensive than textbooks."

You don't know what an "order of magnitude" is. Textbooks do not cost $20,000+ per year per student in K12 or anywhere else.

$200 could buy a tablet outright rather than lease for a year. eBook software won't change that equation and other educational software is value-add a book can't offer.

And, of course, the horrors of exposing children to display screens. We couldn't possibly know the effect of that by now!!!

Re:annual of $214! (2)

slick7 (1703596) | about 7 months ago | (#44856677)

You don't know what an "order of magnitude" is. Textbooks do not cost $20,000+ per year per student in K12 or anywhere else.

... We couldn't possibly know the effect of that by now!!!

Sure we do, we can watch them on the installed video camera, watch what they type on the installed key-logger, listen to what they say on the installed microphone, and when necessary, alter the text material ala 1984.

Re:annual of $214! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44856619)

So you believe the electronic textbooks on the devices magically appear out of thin air?

Spy on them early on... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44855821)

to make sure they become good mindless citicen.

BYOD? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44855825)

Are the students allowed to bring their own device if they already own a tablet? I know I wouldn't want to use a computer offered up to me by the state. I'd much rather buy my own if it's a required item.

No I didn't RTFA.

Re:BYOD? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44856377)

"student" is the wrong word, for that age and type of school it really should be "pupil".

Re:BYOD? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44856561)

Are the students allowed to bring their own device if they already own a tablet? I know I wouldn't want to use a computer offered up to me by the state. I'd much rather buy my own if it's a required item.

Read "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow (http://www.amazon.ca/Little-Brother-Cory-Doctorow/dp/0765323117) for some insight into school-provided notebook computer which easily could have been tablet computers.

Could you have gotten any more links in there? (1)

jayhawk88 (160512) | about 7 months ago | (#44855829)

Maybe linked to the Race to the Top website, a link to the definition of "annual"?

Re:Could you have gotten any more links in there? (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | about 7 months ago | (#44855985)

In other word, you visit a page using http, aka hyper text transport protocol, you got served some hypertext, AND YOU COMPLAIN???

If the author of the web were here, it would get mad. What was his name, Steve Jobs or something like that....

Re:Could you have gotten any more links in there? (5, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about 7 months ago | (#44856235)

In other word, you visit a page using http, aka hyper text transport protocol, you got served some hypertext, AND YOU COMPLAIN???

Yes. Because [merriam-webster.com] too many [thefolderstore.com] links make the article [clipartof.com] hard to read [bubblews.com] and obscure [blogspot.com] the most relevant [relevantmagazine.com] links.

Re:Could you have gotten any more links in there? (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about 7 months ago | (#44856095)

Usually it's more much annoying when the submitters don't use links, particularly when using jargon and acronyms that aren't common knowledge to slashdotters. It's really not much harm to overdo it. So I'll say pass.

Re:Could you have gotten any more links in there? (1)

istartedi (132515) | about 7 months ago | (#44856181)

The more links, the better the story. Just like more technology makes for better educational outcomes.

Yes, exactly what we need. More distractions. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44855833)

What we really need is well paid and highly motivated teachers with small class sizes. Not yet another way for students to play angry birds.

Of course the ones making decisions know this, but they're happy taking the tech sector money. And a class full of little kids with tablets make good press and website pictures.

Re:Yes, exactly what we need. More distractions. (4, Insightful)

contrapunctus (907549) | about 7 months ago | (#44856117)

Someone once told me "the further you get from the classroom, the more money you make"

Re:Yes, exactly what we need. More distractions. (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 7 months ago | (#44856281)

Only two factors have consistently been shown to positively correlate with student performance: parental support and teacher enthusiasm. But, hey, throwing technology at the problem might work this time...

Re:Yes, exactly what we need. More distractions. (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 7 months ago | (#44856581)

Gerry Sussman is enthusiastic enough and the electronic media allows him to influence many more people that it would be possible in brick school settings. And I'm sure there are more such people...now if only the mediocre regional drones who only think that they can prepare good teaching materials and deliver good lectures stopped deluding themselves.

How is this fixing things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44855853)

Fix college costs
Fix no child left behind
Fix the system - stop patching it.

Re: How is this fixing things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44855869)

I have a whole bag of shush for you.

No Child Left Untableted (3, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 7 months ago | (#44855855)

That headline fills me with unease. Sounds vaguely improper.

Maybe I'm just getting old but in my days, children were simply never verbed. It isn't polite.

Re:No Child Left Untableted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44855881)

Now kiddies, take your Ritalin!

Re:No Child Left Untableted (1)

SoftwareArtist (1472499) | about 7 months ago | (#44856663)

The whole summary is a mass of vague insinuations trying to make you think something bad is going on. The deal "raised some eyebrows". The company selling the tablets is part of a "controversial" program using students as "guinea pigs". 5% of the students had "glitches" with internet connectivity during the first week. Gasp! Clearly this whole program is evil and corrupt!

In short, this is someone trying to push their own opinion about something while disguising it as news

3.3 million down the drain (5, Insightful)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about 7 months ago | (#44855859)

per year out of tax payer pockets. Please stop doing it for the children because everything you do sets them back even further. Smaller class sizes? Boon for teachers union, bane for tax payers. Students? Show me the improved test scores. New math? Fail. "Smart" classrooms? Fail.

It remains fact that students pre WWII were better educated in every discipline. The US has sunk hundreds of billions of dollars, if not trillions, over the decades to "fix" education with absolutely no positive results. Perhaps it was not broken in the first place.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44855949)

It remains fact that students pre WWII were better educated in every discipline.

Cite? I'm sure they were much better at learning by rote, but let's talk heuristic ability if you want to bring it up.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 7 months ago | (#44855991)

Testing proves it. Inability of average student to perform basic functions proves it, such as finding New York on a global map.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44856073)

An average student today would browse to Google Maps, search for "new york", and be presented with the information they need.

Rote memorization is really a useless skill these days, especially for facts that are retrieved infrequently.

It's a lot like the situation with those Indian Java "programmers" who can quote you namespace-qualified class names and method signatures, yet they can't write even simple loops or conditionals correctly. Yeah, maybe they can regurgitate API facts better than an American or European programmer, but they can't get any real or useful work done. The ability to do, which the Americans and Europeans tend to have, far outweighs the ability to memorize.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (3, Interesting)

iggymanz (596061) | about 7 months ago | (#44856161)

Wrong, lack of basic information between the ears, not being on readily "on tap", means a person can't form a proper mental model to understanding any issue where geographical configuration is key. They won't understand why Russia, for example, would be much more interested in not having external forces involved in a civil war in the nearby trading partner. They wouldn't understand why a hurricane making landfall from state A to state D would also involve states B and C.

You are deluded that education in prior decades was solely focused on rote memorization, as writing, speech making and speech, and solving problems from principles was also taught.

Today's java programmer, to use your example against you, relies on frameworks instead of understanding the basic construction and implementation of the basic objects of the language, and so fails to recognize bad code in an interview. This is what I see at work with interviewees. Yes, they *could* "google it", but they won't when sitting and writing code.

Well It's Broken Now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44855953)

per year out of tax payer pockets. Please stop doing it for the children because everything you do sets them back even further. Smaller class sizes? Boon for teachers union, bane for tax payers. Students? Show me the improved test scores. New math? Fail. "Smart" classrooms? Fail.

It remains fact that students pre WWII were better educated in every discipline. The US has sunk hundreds of billions of dollars, if not trillions, over the decades to "fix" education with absolutely no positive results. Perhaps it was not broken in the first place.

Well it's broken now. So, it needs fixing.

You seem to be saying we should not fix it?

Re:3.3 million down the drain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44855965)

How was education in black and minority communities pre-WWII? The education system always sounds bad because there is a large variance that brings down averages.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44856105)

Who cares! We worry too much about blacks and chiners...We need to worry about white people for a bit.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 7 months ago | (#44856335)

The "chiners", as you call them, value education and hard work, like white people used to do. And as blacks should do. Go ahead and call me racist, for wanting people to have a good education and and opportunity to use it.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (2)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 7 months ago | (#44856365)

It's not race, it's culture, and it can be changed. First, people need to stop thinking it's about race and understand that some cultures have very damaging elements to them.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 7 months ago | (#44856775)

call it anything you want, point is throwing money at that issue has not solved anytihng

Re:3.3 million down the drain (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 7 months ago | (#44856787)

funny, another group of people went through something worse than that for much more than 100 years, and do much better than most. their culture and mindset made a difference

Re:3.3 million down the drain (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 7 months ago | (#44856273)

How is the education in such communities now? Have you heard a black teacher from the south side of Chicago speak on TV? They only use one vowel (a schwa?) and horrible grammar. Throwing money at the problem has not solved anything.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (1)

nbauman (624611) | about 7 months ago | (#44856673)

Jesus fucking Christ! Do you think there is one black person in America duplicated 10 million times? Black people are different. I had a black science teacher in high school, the best teacher I had, and she taught me stuff I use every day. I had another black teacher who was worthless. Some black people are really smart and some black people are really stupid. If you knew more than one black person, you'd know that.

Now let's have your 1930s-era stereotypes of Jews, Italians, Chinese and Irishmen.

(BTW, it's amazing what happens when a black person gets a job that pays well, with advancement in exchange for doing the job well.)

Re:3.3 million down the drain (1)

istartedi (132515) | about 7 months ago | (#44856375)

How was education in black and minority communities pre-WWII?

The first thought that occurred to me was that education in pre-WW2 segregated schools might actually have been better than education in today's "integrated" inner-city schools.

That's not an argument that segregation was good. It's an argument that today's system is that bad. It's de facto segregated due to White flight. It's also part of a system that cares more about the Democratic Party machine and re-electing politicians than it does educating.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44855987)

It remains fact that students pre WWII were better educated in every discipline.

Are you sure about that?

So you're honestly expecting us to believe that little Johnny and little Jenny knew how to use modern PCs, laptops, mobile phones and tablets back in 1925? You're telling us that they knew how to develop software for these devices?

You're also telling us that they knew about the moons of Saturn that weren't discovered until within the past few decades?

And they also knew about the double-helix structure of DNA?

Cut the crap, Larry. They weren't "better educated" then. They just had to know a different subset of knowledge, one that is much less useful today. Likewise, modern students know things that students (and even the most knowledgeable experts!) of the 1920s and 1930s knew absolutely nothing about.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44856113)

Computers, tablets and mobile devices are tools they don't create intelligence.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (1)

glueball (232492) | about 7 months ago | (#44856147)

So you're honestly expecting us to believe that little Johnny and little Jenny knew how to use modern PCs, laptops, mobile phones and tablets back in 1925? Blah blah blah

No, they didn't know about it while in school. They invented it.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44856203)

No, Americans did not "invent" such technologies. Europeans, trained in Europe, did, even if some of them were working those technologies in America at the time.

We're discussing the American education system here. Lawrence Bird is claiming, within that system, "that students pre WWII were better educated in every discipline."

Clearly that is not a "fact" like Lawrence Bird here is claiming it is. Those students clearly were not "better educated in every discipline" than students today. There are many disciplines where these students had absolutely no knowledge whatsoever. We can't truthfully say that they were "better educated in every discipline" when so many of the disciplines being considered didn't even exist in the 1920s or 1930s!

Re:3.3 million down the drain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44856603)

What? You think all these technologies were invented by Europeans? Very hard to take anything you say serious after that.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (3, Insightful)

MacTO (1161105) | about 7 months ago | (#44855993)

The [i]fact[/i] is that students [b]pre[/p] WWII were better educated in every discipline because people dropped out of school. Prior to the second world war, the high school graduation rate was virtually always below 50% (contrast that to over 70% today). Even citing a figure that high is misleading because the graduation rate had been consistently increasing from 10% to 55% between the wars and there were a substantial number of drop-outs as early as the elementary grades. And all of that assumes that they were better educated. Much of the knowledge that we feed to students today was being developed during WWII, so those pre-war students could have hardly learnt it.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (1, Insightful)

stewsters (1406737) | about 7 months ago | (#44856029)

I'd wager a highschool kid with a computer and a programming course could do more math problems per hour than a million pre WW2 students. Things people learn change as the importance changes. Most college students know more calculus than Archimedes, does that make them better at math? Measuring knowledge across time is not a valid test.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (3, Interesting)

iggymanz (596061) | about 7 months ago | (#44856185)

No, your average US high school student lacks basic principles to do math, let alone make algorithms to automate the doing of math. You imagine an average student could automate the finding of a square root with just addition and subtraction and multiplication and branch after compare being the only operations allowed? The average student has no idea how to find a square root by any means other than pushing a button on a calculator, but even then could not give any situation where a need for a square root would be useful.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 7 months ago | (#44856449)

The average student has no idea how to find a square root by any means other than pushing a button on a calculator, but even then could not give any situation where a need for a square root would be useful.

You touch on a topic that has come up in our own home more than once. I learned how to calculate a square root to arbitrary precision at school some decades ago. It was part of the curriculum for 5th or 6th grade then. Our kids do not learn it at school, even though one is presently doing her matriculation (final exams). It's apparently not in the curriculum any more, and I doubt whether many of the teachers could handle it. I taught our kids how to extract a square root [wikipedia.org] myself. They know how to do it in decimal, and the eldest can do it in other number bases as well.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44856741)

Useless knowledge for most.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (1)

vux984 (928602) | about 7 months ago | (#44856833)

I learned how to calculate a square root to arbitrary precision at school some decades ago. It was part of the curriculum for 5th or 6th grade then.

And when i went to school we "learned" how to do trig functions from angles to 3 to decimals by looking them up in tables in the back of the book. Some things are obsolete. That's been replaced by calculators, and so has square roots.

Square roots are one of them, the masses have a calculator to do that for them. And the subject of finding roots manually is now grade 12 advanced placement calculus where they do it with newtons method after learning a tiny bit of calculus. (And not just square roots, but other roots as well.)

The square root methods you and I were taught in 6th grade is now more of a mathematical curiosity that belongs in a higher level mathematics course that explores -why- it works, rather than presents it as a practical method to actually use.

If I we're on a desert island and was going to find roots (any root, not just square roots) manually today, I'd probably use newtons method if i needed precision, or an intuition guided "binary search" if I was trying to do it in my head and just needed to be in the ball park.)

Re:3.3 million down the drain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44856077)

1) Get your former corporate employee appointed a position in government.
2) Take the tax payer money and give it to the corporation on schemes like this.
3) Profit.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 7 months ago | (#44856133)

Amplify was the low bidder of those responding to Guilford's Race-to-the-Top RFP,

So being the low bidder is all that matters?

That's easy... put Linux on it; or make it out of paper [funnyordie.com]

Re:3.3 million down the drain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44856599)

Amplify was the low bidder of those responding to Guilford's Race-to-the-Top RFP,

So being the low bidder is all that matters?

You fail to understand how government-issued RFPs work. The selection process, minus any biases, favours the low bidder. The government calculates cost per unit whether the unit be years of experience (consultant selection) or the unit be number of products (tablet + educational materials selection).

Re:3.3 million down the drain (2)

fermion (181285) | about 7 months ago | (#44856187)

First, money down the drain. In any corporate venture acquisition costs are only part, and often not the majority cost, of utilizing a capital item. For instance, when I was working at a University about 50% were added to most purchase orders to pay for acquisition and running costs. At schools, which tend to pay for future costs, such as maintenance and supplies, out of the current budget, initial purchase prices always seem a bit high.

Second, I would strongly argue that pre WWII people were better educated than we are, or than the current generation of kids are. I know many many kids who know more Calculus than I did when I was in high school. Kids now much more about genetics, astronomy, physics that I did at there age. Kids were so dumb back then that, assuming they knew the planets, they thought Pluto was one of them.

Specifically talking about technology, all money invested is well worthwhile. In my high school we had a mainframe. Best investment the district could have made. We all left high school with skills that were in demand, and with the basis to acquire the skills that would soon be in demand. I am sure everyone was saying 'but can they read' and 'how are the test scores'. But no cared. We were going into the work force to make a lot of money or to the top colleges.

The key thing was that we were using, what at the time, was pretty advanced if not cutting edge technology to not only learn but to use as a tool to complete tasks. Is your argument that when kids graduate they are going to use pencils and slide rules? Are the females going to be sequester in a room to be human calculators? Maybe they will be manually flying airplanes?

The thing is that we are educating more kids in more complex techniques and skills that we ever have. Sometime people look at the educational outputs and see some kids that would have traditionally been successful and see them less so and from that infer that education is doing worse. But is it not. On the whole literacy rates have risen. Kids can do simple tasks, like program a DVR, while their parents cannot. The need for the trivia based educational system has been completely proven obsolete by the problem solving tasks that kids need to do know. Machines are so complex that a user manual is too inefficient, and knowing the vernacular of the machines is the only way to be successful. Oxford reports that in 20 years half of todays jobs will be gone. You will not be able to make a living in construction or sales. Technology has already significantly reduced the need for lawyers, the age of the massive law firm and large number of high earning partners is gone.

Tablets are the way to get machines into every students hands. It is affordable and practical. This is what kids will doing in 20 years. Don't you think it is what we should be teaching them?

Re:3.3 million down the drain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44856331)

Fully agreed, no computers before say 16, Blackboard and INK pens ... Dr^2 (Engineering, Law) omb

Gruzei aus Zürich

Re:3.3 million down the drain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44856341)

Putting the gifted kids together in a classroom with curriculum targeted to gifted kids will do more for our education system than all the programs you mentioned combined.

The slow kids hold back the gifted kids. This is a readily-observable fact. They create distractions, and they force the teachers to dumb down the lessons so the slow kids can keep up.

People think that a merit-based division is unfair to the slow kids. This seems to be based on the incorrect assumption that the presence of the smart kids somehow benefits the slow kids. It does not. Often the slow kids just bully the smart kids. And even when that doesn't happen, the smart kids can't accelerate the learning rate of the slow kids.

The truth is no parent wants their kid put in the slow, or even average group, because everyone wants to believe that their kid is above-average. So, this pride barrier makes education completely unfair to the gifted kids. We hold our best and brightest back to pander to the ululations of the mediocre. It is asinine.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (2)

dk20 (914954) | about 7 months ago | (#44856831)

Not sure how its done in other areas of the world, but in Ontario (Canada) we started doing this. My daughter is in such a program and loves it whereas when she was in the "mainstream" program she was miserable.

The main concern we had was your point about bullying. She was somewhat of an "outcast" in the mainstream program and it made going to school difficult (she was only 10 at the time). Once she was tested and transferred to the gifted program her life changed dramatically (both socially and academically). Without the program i'm not sure what would have happened to her but we are thankful for the program and opportunities it presents.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (1)

argStyopa (232550) | about 7 months ago | (#44856467)

Or perhaps the answer's not (as the teachers' unions have asserted) simply to keep pouring more cash into the system - particularly when they're going to waste it on ipads.

Personally, I'd rather see more arts and humanities programs in schools than another class equipped with ipads.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | about 7 months ago | (#44856759)

Teachers Unions don't want "more money" for the sake of "more money". They one one of the few things to actually have shown to generate better student improvement: Smaller Class Sizes. Now, that means more classrooms, and more teachers. Which, does tend to cost more money.

Here you go (2)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 7 months ago | (#44856565)

Two Seconds [classsizematters.org] of googling. That said, have been going down because we're admitting more people, and those people aren't as wealthy so they don't have access to a full time parent, a nanny, and tutors. They're often more or less on their own. Basically, we expanded education to everyone but we didn't expand all the advantages afforded to the rich and powerful to them. If you think about it it's common sense. Dump a bunch of under privileged kids into underfunded schools and what do _you_ think will happen?

As for the Charter & Private schools, don't make me laugh. They get to pick and choose their students. If a kid starts under performing or is disrupting class it's back to the public school for them. Not that I think we should abandon those kids.

On a side note, +5 insightful? Really /.? We're better than this.

1/2 Agreed, 1/2 BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44856615)

While tablets are very useful for consuming media, they are not very useful for producing it. Technology can be distracting. Leasing the machines is also a bad idea.

That being said, the rest of your rant is patently false.

-We cover signifcantly more subject matter than pre-WWII students. That generation was taught that the atom was the smallest unit of matter and Venus may be habitable. Very few learned Trigonometry because most jobs did not require more than a high school degree. Pre-WWII students were separated by race and gender. Do you really want to go back?

-When the US educational system is compared to that of other countries, we test everyone while they only test their top students. Not a fair comparison at all.

-When you see videos of people who don't know geography, people who get the answers right are edited out. If most people did not know geography as depicted in these videos, then few would get the joke.

-The media generally spins educational stories to the negative. When students do well on a test in the U.S. the test was too easy. When they do poorly on a test, the teacher did not do their job.

Granted, there are setbacks. However, to claim that there are "absolutely no positive results" in educational reform is beyond foolish. You are disregarding reality in favor of your tarnished opinion. You are suffering from "educationalism" as defined by racism, sexism, and exceptionalism.

Re:3.3 million down the drain (2)

dk20 (914954) | about 7 months ago | (#44856763)

We do the same thing here (Canada). Year after year we are told part of the problem is "large class sizes" and how we need to hire more teachers and reduce this.

My kids were sent to school in China for a few years.
While China may have the largest primary class size (37.1 per class) the kids found it much much easier when they came back to Canada.

Class size wasn't the issue, the work was challenging and the environment was strict.

Put a Chinese student up against any other and measure the results for yourself.

OLPC (1)

Badooleoo (3045733) | about 7 months ago | (#44855871)

No more one laptop per child anymore? Should be rolling out one wristwatch per child soon?

Re:OLPC (4, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | about 7 months ago | (#44856307)

One basic education in reading, writing, arithmetic, speaking and science per child, using paper and pencil and no computers, would be a superior solution. That's all the education I had as child. I've had no difficulties putting computers to work on engineering, financial, and scientific problems since then. What a fallacy, to think children need "computer skills"; they need thinking skills.

HR-ification (1)

mx+b (2078162) | about 7 months ago | (#44856815)

I call this the "HR-ificiation" of our society, because of the mindset I see in business/HR type people that unfortunately run the country right now. They do not seem to have thinking skills themselves, hence cannot identify it in others. Instead they rely on checklists that were "created with input from our business partners". Sounds great on the surface to most parents and students -- they worked with industry to get relevant job skills! -- but the downside is that the educational curriculum is now reduced to a checklist of "skills" rather than a comprehensive education in how to reason about problems. I see this in tech schools too (where I currently work), where the focus on business skills is taking such priority (so that they can advertise that they prepare for jobs) that they have lost sight on the actual important material in the program.

Teacher Layoffs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44855933)

So... Now that they can all learn by themselves, I guess we have no more need for teachers?

No Correlation (1)

craigminah (1885846) | about 7 months ago | (#44855937)

I don't see how politicians think a tablet/laptop/computer/ebook reader will make students better. Our students are getting worse because of the pervasive attitude that's it's not cool to be good in school. We need to change this perception and reward students who try really hard and/or do well in school...right now it looks like they're just throwing money at a problem to see if it helps and it also seems like they're helping out one of their buddies who's benefitting from this ludicrously expensive lease plan.

Re:No Correlation (4, Insightful)

Livius (318358) | about 7 months ago | (#44855999)

I don't see how politicians think a tablet/laptop/computer/ebook reader will make students better.

Manufacturers have lobbyists.

Students do not.

Whose lives do you think politicians are really trying to make better?

Tablet's why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44856059)

Tablets aren't even useful as a computing device, there a gimick/toy. if you want kids to learn about computers give them a pile of parts, if you want to improve the education system start attracting teachers who are good at teaching not failed professionals to whom teaching is now the only alternative.

Re:No Correlation (2)

dfghjk (711126) | about 7 months ago | (#44856295)

"We need to change this perception and reward students who try really hard and/or do well in school..."

That won't be successful as long as the rewards "we" offer are not the ones students want. Education is a cultural issue and our culture is one of lives getting easier and lazier. It will never be "cool" to pursue what your peers don't want.

Good education requires the expectation of achievement that children take as a given. Instead, we publicly value ignorance over education and today's parents were spoon-fed on that pathetic value system. Using tablets in place of books is entirely beside the point; that are a tactical consideration only.

Big Pharamcologies loves this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44856011)

going to mean ADHD for everychild ! ooops Thats no what the article meant.

Rupert Murdoch? (2)

plopez (54068) | about 7 months ago | (#44856017)

Will they only be allowed to visit the Fox News site for current event assignments?

Re:Rupert Murdoch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44856151)

Anyone caught not using Fox News will be summarily expelled.

Re:Rupert Murdoch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44856153)

To a Foxconn factory.

Hopeless (1)

dcollins (135727) | about 7 months ago | (#44856055)

I've stopped even trying to address the absurdity of these initiatives. There will always be administrators looking to get attention with big splashy purchases for no particular reason. I don't see any way to stop it.

Re:Hopeless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44856391)

Reduce taxes.

Or is that still a racist stance to take?

proper e-books maybe? (1)

metalmaster (1005171) | about 7 months ago | (#44856071)

A tablet per child sounds like a ridiculous way to spend money, but a valid point brought up in a previous article [slashdot.org] suggests that perhaps a donation is/was made that cannot be spent on any other budgetary concerns. So....kids get tablets.

Perhaps this can be a good thing though. If we can get a gadget in to every child's hand maybe we can force the hand of major textbook publishers and get them to put out electronic copies of their books that are actually usable. I dont mean "Here is the foreword for the book get a dead tree copy to read the rest" or webpages for chapter objectives that refer back to a 5lbs hard cover book for the rest of the work.

Re:proper e-books maybe? (2)

DogDude (805747) | about 7 months ago | (#44856209)

Oh, just stop with the "dead tree" and "5 lbs" garbage. Not everybody is a fussy little primadonna that is afraid to carry around a few pounds of real books. There's nothing wrong with using actual textbooks for teaching children. The last thing kids in modern society need are *more* gadgets.

Student remember best by writing notes (1)

Joshua Fan (1733100) | about 7 months ago | (#44856097)

This is a well known fact. Personal electronic gadgets can only distract, or make the learning process more efficient, reducing mnemonics that help retention.

Re:Student remember best by writing notes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44856609)

I'd prefer a laptop to a tablet because it seems intuitively important to me that students be interacting through a grammar of some kind: writing an essay, commenting on a Google Doc or something similar, posting an email to a class mailing list written in paragraphs rather than a tweet. In math, even graphing calculators had keyboards, and needed them. Tablets seem to have finger-painting interfaces that would be prone to multiple-choice tests, and multiple choice everything since there's room for only few buttons per screen which encourages "wizard"-like ordered-step interfaces rather than open-ended compositional creative interfaces. Tablets have few interactions other than "Do" or "Gimmie," for example, clipboards are awkward compared to keyboardful machines, and searching for text inside a buffer isn't a normal thing to do on a tablet while it's common in a web browser, word processor, or text editor. It always makes me think of the cocaine vending machines scientists use to experiment on rats. Not only do tablets seem a bad fit for education, but any educational software company promising to deliver tools via tablet would have my reflexive suspicion. Useful laptops are the same price, so price isn't a reason to choose a machine with an aesthetic totally at odds with education, either. It's disappointing to see the tablet hysteria is apparently powerful enough to wash these issues from educators' minds.

Wait a sec... LEASING?! (5, Funny)

Negroponte J. Rabit (2820825) | about 7 months ago | (#44856103)

The federal government is *leasing* tablets from a division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation at a cost of $200 per year.. Not buying..... LEASING!!! For $200 per tablet. Let's see how Fox News deals with this WASTEFUL GOVERNMENT SPENDING!

Re:Wait a sec... LEASING?! (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 7 months ago | (#44856137)

If you follow the money trail, you will likely find one of the decision makers on pushing this forward has a monetary interest in this whole scheme. Sort of like how the biggest opponents of drug legalization have shares or outright own prisons and drug testing facilities

Re:Wait a sec... LEASING?! (2)

Negroponte J. Rabit (2820825) | about 7 months ago | (#44856423)

Maybe, but I'm assuming that this company did in fact come in with the lowest bid. To be fair, having parents who've been teachers, schools spend A-LOT of money on *CRAP* - CRAP standardized programs, CRAP books, CRAP software, CRAP consultants, CRAP tech, CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP! I was amazed to hear what one school paid to have specialized desks built, each with an embedded CRT and a PC with a RealMagic Hollywood card to play DVDs, and a huge 64-port Cisco router for the 15 or so machines, apparently none of which got much use. Money that could've gone to better things. Still, $200 to lease a tablet? Just buy the freaking tablets! Get Nook HD's - they're cheaper and keep Barnes and Nobles in business. Seriously, If I were in charge, I'd put Apple IIs, Atari 800's and TRS-80's back in classrooms. Maybe give a Raspberry Pi to every kid. There was something to using a device that essentially gave you a blank slate and you had to learn and create to make it do stuff. Now, everything comes flying at you with bright colors and stupid, condescending, badly drawn cartoon characters. By the way, remember that Neil Bush's No Child Left Behind program was a pretty nice deal for Neil Bush's IGNITE! company, formed the very same year that his brother ran for president. Gotta love family connections.

XXX (1)

horm (2802801) | about 7 months ago | (#44856193)

Great, let's give a bunch of horny, hormonal middle schoolers a way to easily watch porn at school.

Thinking (only) of the children again (1)

macraig (621737) | about 7 months ago | (#44856473)

No Child Left Untableted

Right, and to hell with the homeless and other chronically underutilized who have already endured so many years of frustration and unhappiness? Too late for those fuckers so screw 'em, right?

It's ageism again.

And (1)

The Cat (19816) | about 7 months ago | (#44856577)

The for-profit corporation takes over your school and will dictate what the students are allowed to read and watch.

Quietly shutting out everyone but themselves in the process, naturally.

Dumbing down so that no child can fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44856601)

For me it started in 1966. My school went Comprehensive (this is the UK I'm talking about). The Secondary modern school I was at joined up with the local Grammar school. Two years later the overall exam results were down to the level of the Sec modern school which was fully 30% lower than the Grammar on its own.

I was in the Techical Stream i.e. 2nd grade. We were not expected to do much but go out to work in local factories aged 16. No chance of staying on to get 'A' levels and go to University.

I went back 6 years later with a 1st Class Honours degree in Engineering and stuffed under the noses of the teachers who'd condemmed me to failue.

Now my grandkids are finiding it hard to fit in because they are bright and consistently get 'A' grades. However their teachers are mor concerned with them fitting in with the rest of their year group and not standing out. Their parents can't afford to send them to private school so they have to deliberately fail things in order not to be a target for those who are frankly Thick and have no ambition. Their school district (they live in MA) seems more concerned with the idiots than the bright kids.

County Ed Budget Too High (4, Insightful)

CaptainOfSpray (1229754) | about 7 months ago | (#44856635)

Obviously they've got money to burn, the fools.

For their "total annual per unit lease cost of $214" they could buy 5 Raspberry Pis at Adafruit, and OWN THEM OUTRIGHT instead of the devices still being on lease so they have to pay $214 every year till the supplier is fat and happy.
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