Virginia’s Arlington Public Schools want to switch from Mac to PC to save money

“It’s the new age-old question, ‘Which is better, Mac or PC?’ The Arlington [Virginia] Public Schools are looking at making the switch from using mostly Macintoshes to personal computers, but teachers say they have been left out of the decision-making process and want to keep their computers,” Gail Norheim reports for The Northern Virginia Journal. “‘Why shouldn’t instructional staff be the first to be addressed about instructional issues?’ Lee Dorman, a sixth-grade teacher at Kenmore Middle School who would be affected by the decision, said at a recent School Board meeting.”

“The majority of computers in the Arlington school system are Macs, used by teachers in most of the county’s elementary and middle schools, and some high school programs. All administration employees use – and all data is stored on – PCs. The time and expertise it takes to run a dual platform system has taken a toll on the small systems and technology staff, said James Carroll, director of instructional media and technology,” Norheim reports.

“Additionally, it has gotten harder for Carroll’s staff to find technicians who are qualified in both Macs and PCs, with some believing the change would solve those problems. But teachers have hundreds of documents such as worksheets, templates and research projects, which would all be either lost or have to be redone if the PC platform was adopted. ‘It gives me a headache just thinking about it,’ Dorman said. She finds Macs are more user-friendly for her students.”

“‘As we begin to look to the future, we have limited funds,’ Carroll said. ‘We are going to try to see if it makes more sense to have a predominantly PC environment. The feeling is that it could provide us with better support and more reliable networks,'” Norheim reports.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We have sent James Carroll links to macvspc.info and Apple’s PowerSchool. In addition, level-headed, informed, and reasoned correspondence (represent the Mac side well, MDN readers – please vent first and/or report responses from Carroll using our Reader Feedback below) can be sent here:

James Carroll
Director, Instructional Media and Technology
Arlington Public Schools
1426 N. Quincy Street
Arlington, VA 22207
Phone: (703) 228-7679
Fax: (703) 875-9491
E-mail: jac703@aol.com

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Pinellas County migration from Mac to PC faces derision – September 17, 2003
Montana school district’s Windows computers offline due to worm; Macintosh computers unaffected – September 03, 2003
More schools experience Windows virus, worm problems while Macs just keep working – August 22, 2003
A tale of two school systems: Windows schools crippled while Mac schools unaffected – August 21, 2003

42 Comments

  1. This is really a larger educational issue. That changes should be made according to what the administration uses, without even consultation from the teachers and those at the chalkface, is disturbing evidence of just how misplaced priorities are in that particular public education system, and I’m afraid many other educational systems in the US and beyond.

  2. Never mind what they do. They will learn someday that it was wrong decision. We just have to accept the fact that not all people are clever.
    Move on. Nothing to see here. Concentrate to real things that matter like Virginia Tech and xServer G5. That will change the landscape.

  3. In the quote ” The feeling is that it could provide us with better support and more reliable networks”, the operative word is “feeling” which may differ tremendously from reality. PCs are cheaper, more reliable, NOT! In the long run, it is going to cost them more. With the tight school budget everywhere, cutting cost is inevitable, however, the people who make financial decisions are mostly ignorant and technologically challenged who believe in the fallacy that M$ is the only way to go. I personally feel the education market is a loosing battle for Apple. However, we can take comfort in the thought that although the students grow up riding in a yellow school bus (school does not have enough money to use a nice tour bus) will some day afford a nice Mercedes on their own. By the same token, some of them will be able to get a Mac for themselves in spite of the fact they used to use junky PCs at school.

  4. I know as an Englishman with no children it’s really not my place to comment on this one, but I really hope that the teachers can win the decision. In any organisation, I believe it should be the needs of those who directly perform the function for which the organisation exists that should have the biggest vote when large scale change occurs. Whilst I understand that Dr Carroll is having problems hiring staff who know Mac and PC, I cannot see how this can be the deciding factor in a decision that could detrimentally effect the ability of educators to teach. I hope he at least delays the decision until he gets a better understanding of the views of those he supports.

  5. “This is really a larger educational issue. That changes should be made according to what the administration uses, without even consultation from the teachers and those at the chalkface, is disturbing evidence of just how misplaced priorities are in that particular public education system, and I’m afraid many other educational systems in the US and beyond.”

    Ed, you’re dead on the money and that’s why I quit teaching and would never consider going back. Now, as a taxpayer, I find it outrageous that a school would force me to pay for a PC environment. Soon these PC schools will have more IT people than faculty.

  6. With the latest virus attacking the windows world…what is he thinking.
    Oh, Apple does offer training just a few miles from Arlington in the Apple Reston Office.
    Mac OS X Essentials
    Mac OS X Administration and Integration
    Mac OS X Server Administration and Integration

    Mr. Carroll…send your technicians to training…spend the money to train your staff

  7. Maybe someone should suggest to Carroll that he should consider going all Mac instead. That would result in:

    – Much lower support costs
    – Better network reliability (no Mydooms, Slammers, Sobigs, no M$ network quirks)

    Seriously, this guy is just typical of all the tech managers out there. They don’t really know a thing about technology, they’ve just read a couple of articles in PC mags. Thankfully, the people who employ them are even more clueless and can’t even use windows properly.
    Obviously, this guy hasn’t done any research into support costs, networking capabilities or suitability for the job. He’s just doing what everyone else is saying. PCs are cheaper, macs don’t network properly etc. Maybe we should concentrate our efforts on getting these people into jobs that are more suitable, rather than reacting whenever they do something stupid.

    I propose the TECH SUITABILITY QUIZ!

    A questionaire comprised of questions to test the knowledge of capabilities and strengths of the various platforms, how up to date are they etc.
    Send it to all these bozos and then see how they fare. I bet it would be 95% piss-poor, 3% average, 1% good, and the other 1% would be people who don’t know how to fill out a form on a computer!

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