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Texas High School Gets iBooks

pudge posted more than 10 years ago | from the i-am-movin-me-to-texas dept.

Education 124

bigjnsa500 writes "Starting in December, high school teachers and students in the sleepy south Texas town of Pleasanton will be receiving Apple iBook wireless laptops. The school has installed wireless access points throughout the campus, including classroom buildings, the shop areas, gym, field house and press box at the football stadium. It will be first high school campus in South Texas to go high-tech." Maybe it's just me, but wouldn't that $2.2m over four years be better spent on books and teachers?

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Yes it should (1, Funny)

scumbucket (680352) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527275)

Especially since being a Texas HS means their football stadium already seats 10,000+ and has astroturf. No need to upgrade that!

Astroturf?!?!?!?! (1)

csoto (220540) | more than 10 years ago | (#7528474)

No way! We'll drain the Rio Grande (screw you, Mexico) before we let our precious players touch that stuff. 100 yards of pure, green, thirsty burmuda. Yup.

Re:Astroturf?!?!?!?! (0)

scumbucket (680352) | more than 10 years ago | (#7528596)

Your right. Every Texas HS probably has a state-of-art sprinkler system installed to keep that bermuda green and shinin! Need to add a hefty 6 figure summ in there......

surely... (2, Insightful)

xirtam_work (560625) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527279)

I'm sure they've let some money for teachers. It's not mutually exclusive to spend money on technological resources and teachers is it?

Re:surely... (2, Interesting)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527289)

I would think that technology funding and teachers come from different pools of money, but I could be wrong.

Additionally, they might be able to save some money if they can buy the books on CD-ROM. Hell, they might even save some of their students from serious back problems if all they have to carry around is a little paper, and iBook, and a pencil.

Re:surely... (1)

eliza_effect (715148) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527413)

You won't save money with books on CD. Many textbooks now come with CD companions, but they're pretty bad. And the books themselves, of course cost $100+ Or at least this has been the college experience thus far. But I'm willing to bet that the books I buy are made by some of the same publishers as highschool textbooks.

Re:surely... (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527579)

You said it yourself, the books cost quite a bit of money, and you're right, many of the same publishers that publish college books also publish high school books. It costs a lot more money to print the books than it does to press CDs, and many publishers (though I'm not absolutely sure on textbook publishers) already offer books on CDs for less than the dead tree editions.

Re:surely... (1)

ViolentGreen (704134) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527476)

Plus, for me it's hard to read a lot of text on a computer.

Re:surely... (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527598)

I usually read more quickly on a computer, but I am very touchy about the clarity of text on the computer as well as refresh rates and such. In any case, it should still be possible to print the text, though I'm sure parents wouldn't want their kids printing out the entire book for each of their classes.

Re:surely... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7528641)

Tax money is the only pool that this funding comes from.

I'm not convinced that this is the best way to spend the money, but it is not my decision to make.

Would the money be better spent on teachers? If it is spent on hiring more teachers, improving student-teacher ratios.

Even though teachers are grossly underpaid in relation to the importance of their job, major increases in their salaries might bring in more of the "I'm in it for the money" teachers rather than "I want to teach" teachers.

Re:surely... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7529994)

From what I've seen -- and yes, I work closely with education -- alot of teachers aren't in it for the money, they're in it for the vacation time!

Re:surely... (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 9 years ago | (#7530401)

Tax money is the only pool that this funding comes from.

That's a very high-level view of things. In most cases, tax money gets broken into several pools, for instance education, law enforcement, and the DMV. Considering the overhead in most local education departments, it's very likely that the money each district receives is seperated into pools for technology, supplies, teachers, books, and so on. The state of California was 50th in the country for per-student spending on books when I attended school there, for example.

I'm not convinced that this is the best way to spend the money, but it is not my decision to make.

If it comes up in your school district, you have every right for your opinion to be heard on the matter, though different districts have different methods of handling this. In most cases, school districts are very political, and it's hard to get through to them without dealing with a lot of red tape.

Would the money be better spent on teachers? If it is spent on hiring more teachers, improving student-teacher ratios.

It depends on how things are handled. When I was in high school, California required a maximum of 20 students per 10th grade english class. In my senior year the school had to hire 20 new teachers to handle the fact that the class of '98 was over twice the size of the class of '97. Additionally, California law required the school to be built no larger than what was needed for the number of students in it's area the first year it held students from all 4 years of high school. They started with a class of 10 that grew to 100 by the time all 4 years were represented, but the 10th graduating class was a class of 700. By the time I graduated (in the school's 7th year), you couldn't fit the entire student body into the gym's bleachers, and all of the classes except for 10th grade english and all science courses (limited to 24 by the seating arrangements) had in excess of 30 students per teacher.

Anyway, they tried hiring more teachers in the grade schools, but they ran out of class rooms, they had to add temporary classrooms in temporary buildings (trailers) and in assembly areas. The same goes with the high school, most of the 10th grade English classes were being taught in other areas of the school because the English building didn't have enough classrooms for the classes, and many foreign language teachers were teaching English classes as well (frankly, though, I learned more about the English language from my German teacher than I did from my English teachers in high school, since they assumed that you picked up most of the grammar and spelling in grade school).

Even though teachers are grossly underpaid in relation to the importance of their job, major increases in their salaries might bring in more of the "I'm in it for the money" teachers rather than "I want to teach" teachers.

This is exactly the problem. You can raise teachers' salaries, but then you can only afford a lower number of teachers. As an added bonus, I'd like to know how many of my high school teachers could actually afford to live in the area the students lived in without a second job. The teachers I knew well enough to know such things about all had at least one other job, some seasonal (summer jobs), others part time (leave school and go to another job, usually teaching at the community college, a few nites a week). I had the same teacher for German in my first 3 years of high school and the first semester I studied the language in college. You can only pay teachers so much before you get people in it for the money or start effecting the number of teachers you can hire, which is truly unfortunate because we need as many teachers as we can get. Unfortunately, you can only have as many teachers as you have classrooms, and building more classrooms is at least as expensive as most other ideas for improving education.

Re:surely... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7531800)

I understand budgets. I keep a high level view of such things because it is never a case of the government wasting its money, it is a case of the government wasting our money.

When I said it wasn't my decision to make I was talking about this specific case. I don't live anywhere near Texas.

Have there been any studies into evening classes for grade school children? There are a decent percentage of people that don't work 9 to 5. By offering evening classes to students, it could allow more teachers, without the need to add classrooms. It could also allow more "family time" for people working off-shifts.

Re:surely... (1)

benzado (649191) | more than 9 years ago | (#7533023)

Tax money is the only pool that this funding comes from.

The projects are often funded by grants, sometimes from corporations or private foundations. Not only tax money.

Even though teachers are grossly underpaid in relation to the importance of their job, major increases in their salaries might bring in more of the "I'm in it for the money" teachers rather than "I want to teach" teachers.

Those teachers would not stay, for the same reason the "I'm in it for the summer vacation" teachers don't last, either.

Teachers deserve better pay. At this point, they would be happy to get healthcare coverage restored, since many districts are taking it away.

Re:surely... (0, Troll)

MrResistor (120588) | more than 9 years ago | (#7529631)

It's not mutually exclusive to spend money on technological resources and teachers is it?

Yes, it is. Money is a finite resource. The more they spend on tech toys, the less they have to spend on things that will actually effect how much the kids learn, like teachers.

The common arguement, of course, is that the money comes from a different place. That's bullshit. It all comes from the same place, the taxpayers pocket.

I don't mind paying taxes, I think it necessary to keep our society functioning , but I do object to my money being wasted on something of such dubious educational value.

Re:surely... (1)

torrentking (712449) | more than 9 years ago | (#7529796)

Moderators on Crack! Parent is not a troll, merely pointing out the obvious.

Won't Somebody Think of the Children? (0, Troll)

tb3 (313150) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527281)

And the radiation hazard from wifi?

Seriously, what happened to that stupid lawsuit those idiot parents were trying to bring against the schoolboard?
And why isn't the Texas schoolboard worried about it?

(And I'll bet every single one of those moronic soccer moms spoke to their lawyer on a cordless phone that has 100 times the power of a wifi set.)

Re:Won't Somebody Think of the Children? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7527428)

Why is 'soccer mom' such a popular term? I mean, do a lot of kids in America play soccer? I thought it was more your baseball/basketball/fatguy-football games. Not soccer-football.

Re:Won't Somebody Think of the Children? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7527645)

I thought it was more your baseball/basketball/fatguy-football games. Not soccer-football.

That's because you don't live here in the good Ole USofA (best country in this damn little world of ours!).

Soccer is indeed a very popular sport...for grade-schoolers! But when they grow up and realize that soccer is about as exciting as watching paint dry and that baseball was invented by people who thought that even *SOCCER* was too exciting, you realize it's time to mooooove on. That's also why you realize that Europeans are from another planet....with your face paints...and your riots...over...uhm...soccer??????? Sad. Very sad.

Re:Won't Somebody Think of the Children? (3, Informative)

Golias (176380) | more than 9 years ago | (#7529289)

Why is 'soccer mom' such a popular term? I mean, do a lot of kids in America play soccer?

In the American suburbs, just about every young child, male or female, plays soccer. The term "soccer mom" became a generic term for suburbanite married women with children, who tend to have slightly more conservative values than the single, urban feminist. The stereotype is a reasonably prosperous middle-class thirtysomething woman who drives a big SUV or Minivan to take her kids to soccer practice.

While most urban women in recent decades have tended to vote as a block for one party (Democrats), the "soccer moms" are considered to be important swing voters, and both parties have been spending a lot of time, money, and energy trying to win their votes in recent years. (Bill Clinton did very well with the soccer moms, much to Bob Dole's surprise and disappointment.)

Re:Won't Somebody Think of the Children? (3, Insightful)

midifarm (666278) | more than 10 years ago | (#7528104)

TX already has bigger threats than some imaginary disease brought on by wifi. How about all the brown fields in TX? Pollution from all the factories that dump chemicals into the rivers and water tables that get conveniently overlooked? The idiots running around with their concealed weapons?

Besides books can be issued on the iBooks. More pressure needs to be applied to the publishing companies to make all books available via PDF. Every kid in America should have an iBook!

Peace

Re:Won't Somebody Think of the Children? (1)

mgs1000 (583340) | more than 9 years ago | (#7531756)

Have you even been to Texas?

Re:Won't Somebody Think of the Children? (1)

midifarm (666278) | more than 9 years ago | (#7531864)

Yes.

Could be worse... (-1, Troll)

Kevin Burtch (13372) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527290)


I think that $2.2M mark is about the budjet for the school systems for the entire state of FloriDUH.

Internet Games! (1, Troll)

Josh Booth (588074) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527310)

Even though the computers are locked down (and Mac OS X is *nix so it won't be pseudo-locked like WinXP), kids will still be able probably to play Java games or the like. Or some industrious kids could boot up YD-Linux and do whatever they want.

At my HS, the most common use for TI-8* calculators is playing games. Who says there will be any difference with these computers?

Re:Internet Games! (1)

Llywelyn (531070) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527340)

Actually its entirely possible that they come with Deimos Rising and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4--they tend to come already installed on new macs.

I think the concern is that they don't want them running "ye random software that you download from the net" for whatever reason.

Seems kind of odd to lock the systems though, just a recipe for disaster as far as tech support is concerned--you'll need to have one person do all of your troubleshooting for every system, rather than having the students do any of their own or be able to do little things like reinstall the OS.

Speaking of which, I wonder if they are locking firmware?

Re:Internet Games! (1)

isorox (205688) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527480)

No, when a user has access to a machine *that* makes it a "recipe for disaster as far as tech support is concerned".

And this different from...? (2, Insightful)

MyNameIsFred (543994) | more than 10 years ago | (#7528122)

What you say is true, but kids will play games with anything. When I was in school, we folded paper into triangles and played football. We played hockey with quarters. We had races on inclined desks with erasers. And when calculators were first introduced into our schools, we played games with the calculators. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Saying kids will play games with something is always true, and is not a good excuse for not doing it. (Not that I think computers are necessarily a good idea.)

No, sorry (2, Insightful)

Mikey-San (582838) | more than 9 years ago | (#7529435)

Actually, I guarantee you they won't be able to boot into any other OS BUT Mac OS X. They won't be able to boot from a CD. A FireWire drive. NetBoot. Nothing. They won't even be able to drop into >console.

Why?

Lock-downs. If this town is smart, they'll lock down the machines the same way Henrico County Public Schools did in Virignia. (After learning the hard way.) Firmware locks, linking >console to dropping into the "/dev/null" shell (wink wink), etc. The kids will get their own account and will never even /see/ the (hidden) admin account.

I work for a repair depot that services the county, and lemme tell ya: These machines are /tight./ You can't even yank the RAM and zap the PRAM to reset the OF password because of these nifty little anti-theft strips that cross the AirPort card and top EMI shield. You can't remove the AirPort card to get to the RAM, and if you DO remove the strip, you get this nice little tattoo left behind by the sticker that means "hahapwned" to administrators.

Hopefully, Texas is going to implement similar measures. If not, they're going to have baaaad headaches.

They can take them home? (2, Interesting)

mahart (177794) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527312)

How many of these are going to get lost/stolen/broken? I remember the hardback textbooks at my highschool had a tough enough time making it through the school year. I think a better computer lab or even laptops that are confined to classrooms would be a better idea.

Re:They can take them home? (3, Insightful)

Llywelyn (531070) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527356)

Doesn't confining a laptop to a classroom defeat the purpose of having a laptop? Besides, letting them take the laptops home allows them to write papers etc while at home.

That said, the iBook is a pretty durable laptop. You can put one through a good deal of abuse and it will still come out okay. So broken is only a nominal issue.

Lost and Stolen are more of a concern, but I don't see that as being a big problem in a small town when the laptops are already being locked down and probably have the serial numbers linked to the students. This isn't exactly NYC we're talking about here--if you leave a backpack on a bus you'll probably get the backpack back with all of its contents intact.

Re:They can take them home? (-1, Troll)

skinfitz (564041) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527445)

Durable?? I moved mine on my desk and the thing stopped working - that was a month ago and I'm STILL waiting for the repair!

Re:They can take them home? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7528531)

Aw c'mon. That was one of the laziest Mac trolls I've ever seen. Are you sure you didn't want to mention something about a Pentium II sitting in your closet at home?

Re:They can take them home? (1)

skinfitz (564041) | more than 9 years ago | (#7530031)

Aw c'mon. That was one of the laziest Mac trolls I've ever seen. Are you sure you didn't want to mention something about a Pentium II sitting in your closet at home?

My Pentium II is next to me with Linux installed on it.

And FYI it's not a troll, just the truth.

Re:They can take them home? (1)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 10 years ago | (#7528294)

I don't know about older iBooks, but my sister has already managed to destroy her iBook G4 after two weeks of use. She dropped it from a whopping distance of 4 feet, which completely shattered the LCD screen.

Re:They can take them home? (2, Interesting)

SavoWood (650474) | more than 10 years ago | (#7528465)

Depending on the angle the machine hit the ground, it could have ended up being a non-issue. I've dropped my iBook twice from about 6 feet. It landed fairly flat both times. The first time, you couldn't tell anything happened. The second time, I broke the hinge, but it still worked so I didn't get it replaced. It's an amazing machine. It took a serious beating and still runs like a champ.

My 12" PB has also taken a fall from about 4 feet, and it never missed a beat. It was running a long process at the time, and compiling The Gimp. There's not even a scratch on the PB, the process never stopped and had no errors, and The Gimp is running just fine.

Either I'm unusually lucky (and clumsy) or your sister has incredibly bad luck. Lucky for her, it's still under warranty and Apple is VERY liberal with their warranty repairs.

Re:They can take them home? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7529328)

Apple will never, ever, ever cover a shattered display. I've run that with them several times.

Re:They can take them home? (3, Informative)

ManxStef (469602) | more than 9 years ago | (#7529035)

Doesn't confining a laptop to a classroom defeat the purpose of having a laptop?

I'm on the IT advisory board of the local college here, and the reason they're keen on laptops (with wifi) is all due to classroom resource usage - why lock a room down to a single purpose "computer room" wired up with workstations and monitors when you can just carry in a scutch of laptops and then let any teacher use that room for other purposes?

This isn't a perfect solution in that it doesn't factor in resources such as manuals, books, etc. which would also have to be carted between rooms, or dedicated hardware for that matter, so it doesn't obviate the need for networking/Cisco/hardware labs for instance, but overall laptops are an excellent solution in freeing up classrooms.

Breakage (2, Interesting)

borkus (179118) | more than 9 years ago | (#7529529)

When Henrico County near Richmond, Virginia did this, they initially had considerable problems [henricocitizen.com] with systems breaking. Part of that was educating students in how to handle the systems properly. Part of it was underestimating the support needs of 25,000 laptop users. Even if 1% of the systems break each year, that's still 250 repairs a year. Initially, the county didn't have an on-site repair shop; machines had to be shipped to DC to be fixed.

Interestingly, after two years of iBooks in schools, the issue has generated enough controversy to be an issue in school board elections [macworld.com] . The results? Two incumbents were voted out [richmond.com] - including the chairman.

Re:They can take them home? (1)

skinfitz (564041) | more than 9 years ago | (#7530931)

Durable?? I moved mine on my desk and the thing stopped working - that was a month ago and I'm STILL waiting for the repair!

I'm with Clifford Stoll here (1, Redundant)

cellocgw (617879) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527323)

In High-tech Heretic [amazon.com] Stoll does a quickie calculation to compare the cost of computer installation (computers, network, software, maintenance) with the number of textbooks and general library books a school could buy. There's no doubt that books are a far better deal. Not to mention that books last a lot longer than any software or computer hardware will. I'm not saying there's no place for computers in school. My kids do some killer data reduction in science classes, but that doesn't mean flooding a school w/ laptops is a good idea.

do your own calculation (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 10 years ago | (#7528696)

2.2 million over 4 years is 550K$ per year. I would guess that the cost of employing a teacher is in the neighborhood of 100K$ including salary, benefits, overhead including associated janatorial staff, offic admin, and other indirect costs. (just a wild guess, not based on research). that means that sum is probably equivalent to 5 teachers plus their computers, and other materials and suppies, per year.

the are 950 studens in the school system. this mean each student would get about 0.5% more teacher attention. Assuming an average classroom size of 30, that's about 15% more teachers per classroom, or one hour per day more of supervision. Or to put in plainly, one daily course.

personally I think immersive computer education is equivalent to an extra course, probably more so. Thus I'd say the trade off between books and computers is acceptable.

mod up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7528798)

I think 100K is probably on the probably on the low side since theres all sorts of other expenses too,, such a lawyers, lights heat, contract negotiations....

What it comes down to is whether this is "new" money in addition to their current budget or if its instead-of existing teachers. Thos overhead costs are all being paid now if its existing teachers were talking about, but the full 100K is its new teachers being hired. More importantly, I'd hate to see them losing teachers, but doing this instead of expanding makes sense.

Books? Books! Now hold on there, pardner... (3, Interesting)

nystagman (603173) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527336)

Maybe it's just me, but wouldn't that $2.2m over four years be better spent on books and teachers? Only if those books do NOT mention the heretical "theory" of "evolution". Note to the humor impaired: I am totally serious. Really.

Re:Books? Books! Now hold on there, pardner... (1)

bobdinkel (530885) | more than 10 years ago | (#7528659)

That's not funny. It's sad, really. Your joke sounds a lot like what I heard in high school... from my biology teacher!

I had always assumed that the people who spoke out against evolution were just a bunch of cousin-kissing yokels that just stayed on the farm. No sir. When I wanted to write a paper on evolution in my english class, my teacher decided to have a talk with me. She told me to write about something less controversial - like abortion. I shit you not. That's when you know that you've got to move away after graduation.

I still love Texas, but it's getting tougher and tougher to proud of this place. Religious nuts. Bush. Gun nuts. Bush. Houston (at one point it had the fattest people and the worst polution, thanks Dubya!).

Sigh.

Re:Books? Books! Now hold on there, pardner... (1)

Uma Thurman (623807) | more than 9 years ago | (#7529197)

Don't feed the trolls. Move along.

2.2 Million is a drop in the bucket. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527351)

School districts are always saying that they are low on cash that is the only way they can get a bigger budget next year. That is the same with any other institution that gets government spending. Every year or so they show what they spend and then then show what they plan to spend next year. Now if they didn't use all the money the current year they will get a smaller budget next year. So they try to spend all the money on different areas (including $15 for a metal spatula for New York State schools (which is $4 at Walmart for a good one) So this year they had had some money left over so they cant give it to the teachers because next year they will want more and they may not have the same budget so they put in Computers will at least last for a couple of years.

Re:2.2 Million is a drop in the bucket. (1)

midifarm (666278) | more than 10 years ago | (#7528158)

Has anyone ever seen what the school board members and the superintendents make? We had one here that was making $250K/yr and left early with a balloon payment of over a million dollars! Seems to me money could be spent elsewhere here. What the hell does a superintendent do except yell at Skinner?

Peace

your assumptions are incorrect (1)

Anonymous Poodle (15365) | more than 10 years ago | (#7528338)

As someone who is somewhat familliar with school financing, I have to say you are way off base.

School districts in CA (where I teach) are required by law to put forth a balanced budget every year. In most cases, they must put forth a budget for the upcoming year using "soft" numbers, usually determined by projected enrollment for the upcoming year (x# of students *x$ per student). In most cases, school districts do not have firm numbers to work with, and yet have to come up with a balanced budget that will carry them through the next year.

The STATE determines funding (at least in CA), not the school board/administration. Schools don't tell the State "yeah, we spent 2.2 mil last year, now we need 2.3 mil, yadda yadda yadda". Instead, the State says "here's the money we promised you, sorry it is less than last year, and oh, BTW, you have to carry out all these unfunded mandates that the legislature passed last year."

And don't get me started on Federal funding--that is an even worse nightmare.

Re:2.2 Million is a drop in the bucket. (2, Insightful)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 10 years ago | (#7528616)

It's always funny to listen to educational "experts" wax on about the need to put computers in every class.

What a total joke. If schools cannot teach reading and algebra, "teaching computers" (whatever that means) is pointless.

Re:2.2 Million is a drop in the bucket. (1)

mike77 (519751) | more than 9 years ago | (#7529984)

What a total joke. If schools cannot teach reading and algebra, "teaching computers" (whatever that means) is pointless.

Damn right. when I went through high school my use of computers was about nil. In the last few years of HS I had access to one, but before that, I had to type out every paper of a type-writer.

Now let me tell you something. If you want to teach a kid good english and spelling, make them work on a typewriter. After about the 5th time you make a mistake near the end, I guaran-damn-tee you will be very careful about how you write something and your spelling.

The computer is a tool, a means to an end, and my personal feeling is that for 90% of the material covered in HS, a computer is entirely unnecessary. But no one seeems to understand this anymore. Hell, most of the kids wouldn't know how to even find a decent source of information in a library if they had to.

Wake up people, computers do not solve your problems all by themselves.

Re:2.2 Million is a drop in the bucket. (1)

jjhlk (678725) | more than 9 years ago | (#7532693)

What do they even plan to do with these laptops? Give students access to the internet for reading and research? Let them graph and solve math problems (adding cost of math software)? Let them write papers? Let them read the textbooks they could have gotten in a digital format? Teach them software like Photoshop, etc?

I can't think of many more valid uses, but all of those things are better suited for in a computer lab, library, or classroom. How often do you really do any of those things? Not much. You don't use a textbook very much, either, but at least it was only $100. I'm finding Maple useful for checking my answers, but only after I've worked out the math problems on paper with a scientific calculator (I'm doing calculus of a single variable right now - a student doesn't even need a graphing calculator! Of course they all have Ti-83s, oh well).

Just a quick calculation. If each student needs a $1500CAD laptop, then they could instead get 15 good textbooks (my Calc book was $130, first year college). With 100 students per grade, grades 8 to 12, laptops would be 500*$1500=$750,000. Textbooks instead would be: 50 kids per semester * 8 classes (4 classes per semester - the point is only half of the students in a grade need a certain book at a time) * 5 grades * $100 book = $200,000. The books would be more effective at teaching, judging from the educational software I've seen so far.

This even assumes the laptops would replace textbooks, and that there wouldn't be other costs associated them (doubtful).

At $1000 per computer, three reasonable computer labs (x86) for 30 students each would be $90,000.

Of course, schools already have these textbooks and computer labs, so unless they are severely lacking, that money could be used for something completely different!

Unless this is an expensive "Train a generation of hackers" program, I think it is a gross waste of money. (Also, I'd like to see the educational software they would expect to put on these things).

Re:2.2 Million is a drop in the bucket. (1)

ja48067 (725662) | more than 9 years ago | (#7529032)

Well, I cannot claim to have knowledge of public school funding in Texas, but the poster's comments certainly don't apply to Michigan's public schools. Our schools are funded by a per pupil mechanism that is financed by a combination of state property, sales and sin (cigarette) taxes with sales tax making up the lion's share.

It works like this:

Higher # of students and larger budget
Smaller # of students and a smaller budget

Now this funding formula doesn't take into consideration the fact as population fluctuates so does your budget BUT the schools are still expected to carry the same number of programs and provide the same services with less money. Conversely, a dramatic influx of students isn't necessarily a good thing either because money doesn't flow directly at once into the district with the student, but rather is spread out over the year in smaller amounts. This forces a school district to provide programs and services to a larger # of kids without the immediate resources needed to provide the extra teachers, supplies and infrastructure to support these new kids. In addition, student counts are done only 2 times a year in September and February, so if a district has an increase in its population after either count date it wont even receive the first scheduled increase for months.

So as you can see, Michigan school districts cannot manipulate their budgets as it was suggested that some in other states do.

Concerning the iBooks, technology give aways by the state to the local districts are well meaning, however who will pick up the costs of maintenance, upgrades, replacements, fixes, etc.? If the technology becomes central to the curriculum then it ceases to be a nice to have and must be functionally available for students both during and after school hours. Sometimes a free gift can wind up costing at lot of bucks.

No, I am not a teacher but I did serve on an elected school board for 8 years and have dealt with this issue before.

Textbooks are the last thing... (1)

dwightk (415372) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527368)

schools should be spending money on today...

My school bought new textbooks every 10 years... My senior year I had a brand new english textbook (exactly the same as the old one) and all the others were 10 years old... Government and Economics textbooks were both completely out of date (because they were poorly written... should be something that doesn't go out of date)

With computers, hopefully there exists (or will exist) a way of having new (well written) resources for all classes... updated to the minute.

Operating systems are the last thing... (0, Redundant)

nickovs (115935) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527437)

schools should be spending money on today...

My school bought operating systems every 3 years... My senior year I had a brand new Microsoft Operating System (exactly as buggy as the old one) and all the others were 3 years old... Windows editions were completely out of date (because they were poorly written... should be something that doesn't go out of date)

With computers there exist ways of having new resources for all classes, but you'll never be able to access the only fine formats ever again.

Re:Textbooks are the last thing... (1)

midifarm (666278) | more than 10 years ago | (#7528183)

Well I think they could update every year, by licensing the latest version of the text book in electronic form. For those districts that have decided to go modern and get computers for everyone, demand that their text books come in PDF form as opposed to the physical printed analog version. This way you don't have the problem of it being outdated. No missing books. No shipping charges. Nothing for the kids to lug around and lose. Nothing to get defaced. And it can include multimedia in addition to pictures. I think it's a great solution, it just needs to be applied!

Peace

There is, but it ain't cheap (1)

OECD (639690) | more than 9 years ago | (#7532510)

With computers, hopefully there exists (or will exist) a way of having new (well written) resources for all classes... updated to the minute.

There is, but if your school could only afford new textbooks every ten years, they're not going to be able to afford it. Think of a laptop as a MUCH more expensive wrapper for the textbook's data. Yes, laptops have the advantage of being able to update that data, but all you've saved is the cost of the materials in the textbook--you still have to pay for the cost of the information (which is the larger share of a textbook's cost.

Now, you may be able to use alternative sources for the textbook's data (like MIT's open university thingy), but most states are VERY specific about their curriculum, and the trend is to be even more so, and textbook companies have an advantage there that they're not going to squander.

What they get is not what I call a 'computer' (1)

file-exists-p (681756) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527427)

From the article:

The students -- who expressed the most excitement about the CD burner and chat software -- will find that there are some limitations.

Their computers will be locked, meaning they cannot download any additional software, Hindes said.

Any Web sites deemed objectionable will be blocked, and the district could shut off the chat software if messaging between students gets out of hand.

Losing a laptop or having one stolen carries a $125 penalty, he said.

In addition, the district has software that tells administrators exactly what the students are doing on their computers, he said.

"We're entitled to monitor it and we will be able to do that," he said.


Is this legal ? Does giving a computer for free allow you to monitor and filter whatever you want ? Isnt'it similar to public library computers ?

Whatever the law says, such a deal sucks. The poor guy will have a big-brother computer while is wealthy friend will buy a spyless one.

--
Go debian!!!

Re:What they get is not what I call a 'computer' (2, Insightful)

ViolentGreen (704134) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527515)

Is this legal ? Does giving a computer for free allow you to monitor and filter whatever you want ?

I would say yes. It is property of the school so the school is entitled to ensure that their property is being used correcetly. They are probably doing this for legal reasons as well. If the students decide to do something illegal with the computers, the school can stop it before action is taken against the school.

Re:What they get is not what I call a 'computer' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7527740)

It's probably perfectly legal.

Now, there's gotta be some geeks in this school. The geeks gotta hack this shit. Crack that wide open, disable their locking software, and do whatever the hell they want with the computers. If I were in their shoes, that'd be job #1 for me.

Re:What they get is not what I call a 'computer' (1)

Mikey-San (582838) | more than 9 years ago | (#7529512)

Oh, shut the hell up.

It's supposed to be a learning device. Do the kids need AIM in English class at all? (LOL OMG R U BUSY L8ER???) If they get irresponsible lose it, and the school is out a $1,000 machine, what's wrong with charging a /tenth/ of the value of the machine? I lost a textbook in high school, and I paid FULL PRICE for the bastard.

If the school gives the students SCHOOL PROPERTY for the purpose of DOING SCHOOLWORK, what's wrong with making sure /they're doing schoolwork?/

And really, how is this any different than the post-school world we want to prepare our children for? If you go to work and they give you a shiny new computer for your desk, who are you to complain that they don't want you doing x on their resources? It's /work/ time, not pr0n time.

Re:What they get is not what I call a 'computer' (1)

file-exists-p (681756) | more than 9 years ago | (#7533163)

Tell me smartass, if a student does not pay for his dorm, they could put video cams there too ?

I love this moral of "who own decides". Wake up dear friend. Mankind went a bit farther than that during the last century. The idea is that *privacy* is more important than your sordid considerations.

Maybe you could, say, shut the hell up, and try to think a bit?

I agree with this guy.... (0, Troll)

Asprin (545477) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527488)


I agree with Cliff [berkeley.edu] . With the possible exception of teaching programming, computers in schools are an unnecessary distraction. Here's a background piece [ksu.edu] about his book on the subject.

Re:I agree with this guy.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7527991)

I agree, that at this point teaching computers can be (aand usually is) pointless at this point.

But to me programs like this are more about laying the foundation for a future when both the students and teachers will look at ubiquitous computers like students now look at text books. Simply an educational tool.

Sounds like they are limiting what can be down with these machines, which (while annoying and invasive) is good if the goal is for a general puporse learning tool. The teachers will NEED to know that the machines are consistent, this transitional time will be touch enough without them having to suspect every kid of playing games, downloading porn, and IM'ing friends during class.

Hopefully this will lay a foundation and in a few years these types of deployments will be common and practical across a broader swath of schools.

my $.02

-ms2k

WHa (0)

POds (241854) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527497)

Are these private schools? If not, how much money does the American government have to throw away. Is there going to be HUGE advantages for each student to have his/her own laptop? Yeh its cool, and their going to be able to get their assigments via online, saving the teacher having organise the hand outs all by his/her self, and maybe you'll be able to order your lunch from the kiosk whilst you'r walking there but does it all really help?

Maybe in the future i can see students needing laptops, and i wish i had one in my uni lecturs instead of using a pen to write, just type!

Also i can see advantages, like accessing the net for projects and assigments... Good for googling! But surely they didnt have to buy EACH student a LAPTOP, and an APPLE one at that! Wouldnt several cheap X86 desktop systems do the job? Why pick laptops, which are expensive and PPCs, which are expensive. So much money could have been saved. Also, i've only mentioned the software. We dont have to talk at all about the advantages of OSS!!!

I dont understand it. The article didnt go into the advantages of such a purchase. I cant see them! I hope if my government does similar things, they think first!

Re:WHa (1)

POds (241854) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527517)

>Also, i've only mentioned the software.

That was supposed to be

Also, i've only mentioned the hardware.

Re:WHa (1)

davebo (11873) | more than 10 years ago | (#7528120)

Some of your other questions aren't as easy to answer, but you did ask why a laptop vs desktop, which is a no-brainer - portability.

Laptops move from classroom to classroom. Laptops move into the lab then back to the desk. Laptops can go home (!) then back to school. Kids aren't fixed in place in school - they wander from room to room during the day.

With a desktop system, you'd waste a couple minutes a period (maybe 5-10% of their class time) logging in/out of accounts. Plus - then you'd need to worry about network home drives, which is going to require hiring at least 1 administrator, plus additional hardware, possible upgrades to network equipment, etc. There's something to be said for simplicity.

As for why iBooks rather than x86: as has been said many times before, Apple laptops are very price-competitive with name-brand x86 machines, which is what a school district is going to be interested in. Apple's currently selling iBooks for $849/each to schools (if they buy 20): 800 MHz G3, 256 MB Ram, 30 GB HD, OS 9 & OS X 10.3, and a wireless card. With a G4, the price is $1083 without a bulk discount. I checked Dell's website - with Texas education pricing, comparable laptops were $1000 - $1200.

Not "The American Government" (1)

denisonbigred (611860) | more than 9 years ago | (#7529614)

Education spending is done mostly by state and local governments (this is why you get nicer schools with larger budgets in wealthier towns). So this 2.2 million is most likely coming from local property taxes (or corporate taxes if there are any major companies headquarted in this town).

Re:WHa (1)

mgs1000 (583340) | more than 9 years ago | (#7531812)

The cost advantage of Windoze machines would completely disappear the first time an email virus strikes all of the machines on campus.

Re:WHa (1)

saha (615847) | more than 9 years ago | (#7532290)

But surely they didnt have to buy EACH student a LAPTOP, and an APPLE one at that! Wouldnt several cheap X86 desktop systems do the job? Why pick laptops, which are expensive and PPCs, which are expensive. So much money could have been saved. Also, i've only mentioned the software. We dont have to talk at all about the advantages of OSS!!!
Apple iBooks are competitive with low cost PC laptops. Plus from my experience as system administrator who buys Dells and Apples all the time for our university. Dell Q&A is poor ( I read some where about a 28% return rate on their laptops). Mac OSX comes with a lot of great software bundled iLife and XCode are great examples
I dont understand it. The article didnt go into the advantages of such a purchase. I cant see them! I hope if my government does similar things, they think first!
I have one product to mention to you. Apple Remote Desktop. I want to see a simliar product with unlimited seats that is as easy to use to adminstrate hundreds or thousands of machines. You'll need a decent number of techs to deploy the same level through SMS and Active Directory, which has a high learning curve. If they have to get computers I'm glad they're laptops and that they are Mac iBooks

Where to spend school dollars... (4, Insightful)

dbirchall (191839) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527504)

Maybe it's just me, but wouldn't that $2.2m over four years be better spent on books and teachers?
Um, no. We've had 2 or 3 decades of the mantra of "we need more money for books and teachers," and has it helped? Not really.

Why? Well, I'm not an academic, but I think they forget that learning is something you do, not something that's done to you. You can't teach someone who doesn't want to learn, isn't ready to learn, or whatever. Conversely, you can't stop someone from learning who really wants to. Teachers are all well and good for the middle third of kids, I suppose... but give a kid a computer and odds are they'll learn something without you having to tell them to do so.

Re:Where to spend school dollars... (1)

nat5an (558057) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527775)

Learning is definitely something that you do. I think it's the goal of a teacher to teach his or her students to learn on their own. However, based on my own experience in high school (4 years ago now), I found this to be the opposite for nearly all the teachers I had. Usually, I think the students were partially to blame as well.

I could think of some awesome things that teachers could do if every student had a laptop computer, but, more than likely, the computers will be used to exchange porn and IMs and not much else. Some industrious kid will crack the probably trivial security on the laptop (this is a public school district after all, OS X notwithstanding). For example, one can boot up the laptop with the OS X install disk and change the root password, then make any changes they like.

The problem is, that sort of thinking is what schools should be enouraging. "This restriction is a problem, how can I solve it?" I mean, honestly, what's the purpose of owning a computer if you can't install software onto yourself? I could understand if they were school desktop machines, but they're laptops that the students will be taking home.

I'm somewhat pessimistic about the whole idea. I have an iBook and I'm a CS major, and, in all honesty, I barely ever use the thing for anything more than websurfing, IMing and checking email in class. And when there are abundant machines all around me, it seems kind of superfluous. I still love the thing tho. :-)

Re:Where to spend school dollars... (3, Insightful)

Quixotic Raindrop (443129) | more than 10 years ago | (#7527860)

You make an interesting point about learning/education being a process that students undergo, but I think you are confusing the issue. First, the money spent on the computers probably comes from a capital fund, which in many states cannot be used for teacher pay or textbooks (it's illegal to mix the funds in many states).

Second, the "mantra of we need more money for books and teachers" doesn't seem to have helped because it's a mantra, and the funding doesn't actually get improved. The argument often used is "the money we gave you already hasn't helped, why should we give you more?" (the "good money after bad" theory.) The problem can be made more clear this way: if we funded the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force with $10 Million to share between them, we'd have been run over by the North Koreans already. We have asked our public schools to perform one of the most vital and non-trivial tasks in society, and we have asked them to do it with about 20% of the money they need. Until we fully fund all public schools, we cannot say that we have fairly assessed them, and are in no position to criticize them for failing.

Re:Where to spend school dollars... (3, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 10 years ago | (#7528381)

doesn't seem to have helped because it's a mantra, and the funding doesn't actually get improved.

Hah.

As somebody who lives in a town that has had outragous tax increases every year since the late eighties, let me tell you that it's more than a mantra. The problem is that the money doesn't go to teachers and books alone, it goes to the school. Then a huge chunk is paid to school administrators, is used to expand the sports program, renovate buildings, and by the time the additonal money gets down to the teachers and books, the teachers that already are overpaid (yes, overpaid. $60k/9 months is overpaid, and that's the average around here... many make more than that here) get raises and no progress has been made.

I refuse to believe that students learn better in a new building than in one built in 1970. I refuse to believe that raising my taxes again is going to improve the local schools when last time they increased the schools funding they used the money to build a football field. I resent parents voting for things with long term costs so they can have their little brats go to the best school possible, and then move to a town with lower taxes promptly after said brats graduate from high school, and I resent it because it destroys the community; something i believe is every bit as important as the number of teachers and books in the school. It's sad when all the retired residents of your town are forced to sell the houses their families have owned for generations because some self-focused parents have no concept of the long term concequences.

Instead of throwing money at the problem we should be making the hard decisions and fixing the problems that make educating a child in a public school so expensive. That means standing up to teachers unions in communities where the teachers are overpaid. That means not nescicarily trying to win the state basketball championship. That means staying in that building even though it's an ugly relic of a past generation. That means not hiring administrators back on at an hourly rate and into a useless position after they retire and get their pension. When you can convince me you've stopped wasting money, you can try to convince me you need more.

Re:Where to spend school dollars... (3, Informative)

Quixotic Raindrop (443129) | more than 9 years ago | (#7529270)

Having actually worked in a public school district, I can tell you unequivocally that it is just a mantra. Most of the teachers in the district I worked for start at $23K, and teachers at other districts around the state start at between $21K and $25K. Top-end pay for teachers ranges from $45K to $65K, depending on their degree level (bachelor's vs. masters), and that's after 30+ years of teaching in the same district. Most of the money that our district received to buy things like computers, and build new buildings (not to replace aging buildings, but to build new ones because there were too many students in the school, or to replace aging trailers and temporary buildings because there were too many students for the existing buildings) was funded not by increased taxes, but by bond issues, and was later repaid.

Maybe in your community, teachers are better-paid than police officers (starting pay for a cop here is $37K), but here they are not, and in many places they are not. Maybe in your community, schools raise taxes to build new buildings simply because their existing buildings are too old, not too small. But that is not reality in many places.

Re:Where to spend school dollars... (1)

bhima (46039) | more than 9 years ago | (#7529317)

Well said, and on a day with me without mod points

Overpaid Teachers? (1)

TimTheFoolMan (656432) | more than 9 years ago | (#7530158)

Please. Tell us. What are the "outrageous salaries" that are being paid in your community? Have you ever worked as a teacher in a public school system? Or, are you one of the "armchair administrators" that see this as a simple problem?

The problems of educating EVERYONE (no matter what their inclination to learn) and being forced to accept all sorts of abberant behavior (no matter what the parents' willingness to get involved may be) are among the more difficult things that my wife (who's been teaching middle and high school for 21 years) must deal with on a daily basis.

How many times have you been threatened at the workplace, and found the perpetrator of the threat RIGHT BACK in the workplace the next day? This happens to schoolteachers all the time. Are metal detectors necessary in your workplace? Is it because of the risks of someone in the room with you pulling a knife or gun and killing a co-worker? Again, this is a way of life for many schoolteachers.

I'll be the first to admit that simply raising taxes and throwing money at schools for higher teacher salaries and better facilities isn't going to fix our educational system. The system is (IMHO) fundamentally broken, and requires dramatic overhaul and review, from the top down.

Unfortunately, this would also mean that a large percentage of the population would lose the "free day care" services of the public schools, because revamping the system would also mean that many students would be deemed "unfit for the classroom," and would be directed toward a special education program (which is even more expensive) that increases supervision levels for the students, or left out of the public school system entirely.

Then again, we can just take the approach it sounds like you're suggesting. Tell the teachers to stop their incessant whinning about the environment they work in; insist that the rat-infested buildings some teachers use are still "perfectly acceptable"; cut back on extra-curricular activities that are typically funded 80% or more by fundraisers and parental involvement.

Great idea!

Tim

Re:Where to spend school dollars... (1)

bay43270 (267213) | more than 9 years ago | (#7532213)

I disagree with your original point that teachers are overpaid. Even if they were averaging $60k for 9 months work (which isn't the case anywhere in my state), it's still not enough. We should pay teachers enough that real world professionals are fighting each other to get a good paying teaching job.

You do make a good point about mis-spending money, however. Just like with many lower class families, schools so rarely have money that they don't know what to do with it when they get it. Many times they could do much better with what they get.

Teachers unions are a huge problem with education. There really isn't any point in paying teachers well if they don't have to compete with the open market. If it were up to me, we would pay all teachers over $100k (more for some subjects) and break the unions on the same day. I know a lot of very qualified people who would be applying for those jobs.. and a lot of under qualified teachers who would loose their jobs that same day.

Re:Where to spend school dollars... (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 9 years ago | (#7533272)

I disagree with your original point that teachers are overpaid. Even if they were averaging $60k for 9 months work (which isn't the case anywhere in my state), it's still not enough. We should pay teachers enough that real world professionals are fighting each other to get a good paying teaching job.

Clearly different districts pay their teachers differently. There is one universal problem though. Money goes to seniority first. You can't pay new teachers enough because you're busy paying old teachers more than enough. There are plenty of private and parochial non-union schools out there that prove this is the case.

Re:Where to spend school dollars... (4, Insightful)

fridgepimp (136338) | more than 9 years ago | (#7529243)

That comment MIGHT be interesting IF private schools hadn't demonstrated the ability to educate students (usually with better educations) for fewer dollars per student per year. Often, too, they pay teachers pretty well.

And NO, not all private schools are for rich kids.

The problem with funding our education system is that the bureaucracy built around education is so massive, and generally scarfs all the money.

-fp

Re:Where to spend school dollars... (1)

Kevin Stevens (227724) | more than 9 years ago | (#7529304)

I agree that just putting computers in a classroom isnt going to accomplish a single thing. In fact, I dont think computers will help at all for students in middle school or below, except for maybe playing those educational games to get them motivated about learning, and also for just teaching the basics of how to use one(this is a mouse, this is where programs are... etc.) What needs to be done is to look at a computer the same way businesses have looked at computers- a tool- a tool to increase efficiency and reduce costs. Unfortunately, most teachers dont know how to use this tool.

How can computers help education?
1.) Reduce Materials cost.
Textbooks could be made better and cheaper electronically. Color isnt more expensive when youre output is a PDF. Interactive animations/demonstrations, better diagrams, etc are all possible. Its even possible to encode entire lessons and store them for later retrieval.
Many texts read in english classes are public domain, and are already digital. And digital copies never get lost, and dont wear out like hard copies.
"Dittos"- Most schools have copy rooms that rival major corporations. Expensive equipment, lots of wasted paper which costs money. These could easily be digitized and distributed electronically, and have a nice side effect of being a bit greener.
2.)Process- Homework grading is a manual, labor intensive process, and a big time sink on a teacher's time. Often, teachers just 'check' homework by walking around a room and seeing if crap was scribbled down in a notebook. For most subjects it would be easy to make assignments online. Teachers could then every single day get realistic assessments of where the class' understanding is, and where their weakpoints lie (IE everyone seems to be getting the questions about centripetal force wrong, this needs to be reinforced). Tests too, could potentially be done on the computer. Lots of trickiness involved here with security, but if done right could be done alot better and more efficiently than the scantron system. Teachers can do more, better. Students have more, and better resources.

Yeah, effective use involves a big paradigm shift. But there was a point in time when none of our officeworkers made effective use of technology either. The age of the technophobic teacher that laughs over her lack of understanding of technology MUST come to an end, just like it has been for most of the workforce. Computers are also expensive. However, many of these costs are one-time infrastructure costs for wiring our schools, and equipment keeps getting cheaper. Todays hardware is more than enough to be effective.
Some software exists to accomplish these goals, most of it needs alot of work, but there is alot of work being done. I believe the 'killer app' for education has not yet been developed, but once it is, it will change the education process. I began work on one briefly (open source- eduonline @sourceforge) developed specs and a DB schema, but my job and another potentially profitable project stole me away within a few weeks of starting. Of course, the problems is that people want to throw hardware at the problem, and have test scores magically go up. Replacing a 486 w/ a P4 doesnt magically increase productivity, either. What is unfortunate is that these pilots are most likely going to produce very few results, and administrators around the country are going to see technology in the classroom as a failure, when the real failure was in the implementation, and lack of vision.

Re:Where to spend school dollars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7529713)

We've had 2 or 3 decades of the mantra of "we need more money for books and teachers," and has it helped? Not really.

Have we even gotten more money for books & teachers? Nope.

Re:Where to spend school dollars... (1)

gmaestro (316742) | more than 9 years ago | (#7530721)

Well, since I work at Pleasanton HS, I would LOVE to be paid more. But here's the thing: the school (apparently) can't afford textbooks for every child. They have to run to class after school for a chance to check one out. But apparently the school can afford the iBooks that no one will learn how to use. Great. I only hope they can atleast put .pdf files of their textbooks on the macs.

The genious admin is also building a gymnasium twice the size of the high school. 9 million for that. What no one wants to mention around here (pleasanton and /.) is that a good number of the teachers can't use a computer, let alone teach their students on one!

But then again, I'm looking forward to getting some of my kids into digital audio processing and other sound manipulation goodies (did I mention I teach music here?)

Re:Where to spend school dollars... (1)

mgs1000 (583340) | more than 9 years ago | (#7531872)

But hey, you get an iBook to play with! My mother is a teacher in Poteet and is very envious of you teachers in the "rich" Pleasanton ISD getting your iBooks.

Re:Where to spend school dollars... (1)

gmaestro (316742) | more than 9 years ago | (#7533083)

Heh, actually, I don't. I work for the high school only one period per day and my home campus is the Intermediate School. But I own my own iBook, upon which I can run whatever the hell I want.

Dear Apple (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7527613)

Dear Apple,

I am a homosexual. I bought an Apple computer because of its well earned reputation for being "the" gay computer. Since I have become an Apple owner, I have been exposed to a whole new world of gay friends. It is really a pleasure to meet and compute with other homos such as myself. I plan on using my new Apple computer as a way to entice and recruit young schoolboys into the homosexual lifestyle; it would be so helpful if you could produce more software which would appeal to young boys. Thanks in advance.

with much gayness,

Father Randy "Pudge" O'Day, S.J.

Dear Randy "Pudge" O'Day (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7527635)

Dear Father O'Day,

Thanks for your letter. Being Catholic myself, I know exactly what you're talking about! It has always been our plan here at Apple Computer Inc to revolutionize personal computing with our high-quality and highly gay products.

I'm happy to answer your letter by letting you know that YES we will be releasing an entire hLife ("homo-life") software line. You'll be able to recognize it in stores by the small stylized logo depicting a large cock entering a tight anus with an Apple logo on it. ("Suddenly it all comes together" indeed!).

Anyway, I hope you and other members of our community will join us on our mission, and purchase the exciting new hLife boxed set. Only the boxed set comes with translucent cock rings!

Sincerely,

Harry Rodman
Vice-president
Homosexual Liaison Services
Apple Computer, Inc.

text books are a racket (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7527734)

Why would the money be better spent on text books? It wouldn't.

Consider an Algebra text book. The text book manufacturers keep introducing new Algebra text books year after year. Yet, Algebra never changes. A text book written in 1920 would be equally useful as one written in 2000. The difference is that the book written in 1920 is no longer under copyright. It is now in the public domain.

A wise school system would take a public domain text book, perhaps edit to their likes, then publish it in PDF format. They could print out chapters as need be. Students could view the text online. No need to tote text books back and forth to home and school. Look at the money the school systems would save by cutting out the albatross around their fiscal neck -- the text book manufactures.

In short, although buying the iBooks is not necessarily a bad decision, the community would be better served if this was merely a stepping stone to the elimination of the high cost of traditionally published text books. The savings on text books would easily pay for the computer hardware.

Re:text books are a racket (1)

JeffTL (667728) | more than 10 years ago | (#7528499)

Well, if you don't update the text books often, McGraw-Hill can't change them to meet their latest revised version of history. Think of the children...what if they learned something about Ancient Rome, or that Jefferson was a great man, or that the American Civil War was ONLY 5%, if that much, about slavery? What if the story problem characters in algebra are never named Jamal? Think of the children!

Re:text books are a racket (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7528973)

LOL. It is sad but true. The textbook publishers are by and large anti-American. They have attempted to excise George Washington and all the founders from the curriculum. Ask a young one about George Washington and the first thing he is likely to tell you is that Washington was "an evil slaveholder". History is now taught completely without context ... in fact without history itself.

With any luck, the iBooks might enable the students to discover websites which refute the Orwellian lies dished out by the profs. Of course, that is assuming that the iBooks don't have "net nanny" censorship software pre-installed.

Perfect Price Discrimination (3, Interesting)

denisonbigred (611860) | more than 9 years ago | (#7529686)

Perfect Price Discrimination [google.com] explains why we pay so much for textbooks here in the US, while in poorer nations, the prices are so much lower. We are willing and able to pay the higher prices, while people in say, Ghana, can't. Schools could save tons of money by simply ordering textbooks from international distributers over the internet and having them shipped in to them. I have a friend who makes tens of thousands of dollars a year at his university by doing this fro kids there, which also saves them money.

Texas Law... (0, Flamebait)

OneOver137 (674481) | more than 9 years ago | (#7529003)

doesn't prohibit the use of any product made within a 100 mile radius of San Francisco?

Books are expensive! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7529655)

"Maybe it's just me, but wouldn't that $2.2m over four years be better spent on books and teachers?"

2.2 million isn't chump change, but an all computerized school is cheaper!

Look at Maine, the had a state supported program where they bought 35,000 ibooks, and they don't do text books anymore. Guess what, costs are down, grades are up, attendance is also up. Text books cost a fortune, and eliminating them and going to computers has put money back in the schools pockets.

What a waste (-1, Troll)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 9 years ago | (#7529694)

They're spending over $2000 per kid for laptops, the most overpriced, proprietary brand of laptop at that. Though it's a BSD, it's not running on an x86 so Wine is not an option, and the skills they learn will not help them on 95% of systems out there. And they're not even getting any sort of academic discount, either that or someone's leeching the funding to buy themselves a private resort.

Understandable (0)

Jhonny (705236) | more than 9 years ago | (#7529753)

I guess Texas Aint important or cool enough to get real computer machines....

Next - Teacher Clippy (3, Funny)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 9 years ago | (#7529985)

"Hi, it looks like you are trying to cheat..."

Priorities (1)

El (94934) | more than 9 years ago | (#7530092)

wouldn't that $2.2m over four years be better spent on books and teachers?

Yes, but "high school spends $2.2m on teachers and books" wouldn't have gotten mentioned on /. (or in any other media source, for that matter.)

better spent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#7530339)

i am a little shocked at all the "better spent" comments. first, as a few pointed out, the money was likely from a tech fund and couldn't have bought books or paid teachers. second, if they have teachers who can actually (feign shock here) teach, a computer and an internet connection can be more useful for most subjects than a book.

if a collection of slashdot readers can't figure out how you can teach psych, or english lit, or current events (especially) with an internet connection, geeks must make poor teachers. and i know that isn't true, cause i spent ten years in the school systems. some of the teachers i knew used rebuilt pent 90 machines to get their kids to do real research and make multimedia presentations. surely using a real computer would be better, wouldn't it?

would you rather have a web connection, or a 15 year old history book? in the 80s my history book said one day man may land on the moon. these kids can be directed to the NASA sight to watch mars landings the day it happens. common people!

i would have killed for this when i taught....

One word, Grants. (1)

Krashed (264119) | more than 9 years ago | (#7530951)

Most schools thrive on education grants from the government and other organization to help them fund programs. When a grant is received, it is to be spent on a particular field. I just granduated from a South Texas school (Los Fresnos High School, just north of Brownsville, west of South Padre) a couple years ago. The year before I started there, they had no technology on campus, there were 486s that were not connected to anything but power. We received a very large grant and bought countless computers, switches, routers, servers (Linux back then), and had the entire campus hardwired. The Brownsville school district gets grants extremely fast and have done everything except to hand out notebooks but since many students already have computer at home, and every class room has a computer or to plus a computer lab per grade. There is no need for notebooks.
I think that before we continue spend the amount of money that we do anywhere in the country on computers for school, we should decide what they should really be used for.

iBooks in the classroom. (1)

DAQ42 (210845) | more than 9 years ago | (#7532842)

Um. So?

Henrico County, Virginia, USA. Been there, done that. Hope you have a nice raincoat, you're going to get drenched..
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