Report: 90 percent of emails opposed to Georgia’s Apple iBook program

“In the first public announcement about his controversial laptop computer program, Cobb schools Superintendent Joe Redden told board members Wednesday the four-year contract with Apple computers to supply about 63,000 iBook G4 laptops will cost $69.9 million. Redden said Apple negotiated a price of $350 per computer while the other two companies vying for the contract charged $404.25 (Dell) and $381.50 (IBM). ‘It’s a very conservative number,’ said Deputy Superintendent Dr. Don Beers, who gave the presentation alongside Redden,” Jon Gillooly reports for The Marietta Daily Journal.

“Beers said $69.9 million includes all expenses – $2.5 million for infrastructure, $5.7 million for a wireless network, $10.1 million for teachers’ laptops, $33.6 million for high school students’ laptops and $18 million for laptops for middle school students. The program is funded by the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax II, which sets aside almost $76 million for technology,” Gillooly reports. “Beers said the school system expects to save money on the laptop program by saving money on textbooks, reducing the number of portable classrooms by transforming computer labs into classroom space and selling the laptops to students when the leases expire.”

“Despite the controversial nature of the program – 90 percent of e-mails to school board members and Redden between Sept. 16 and Oct. 18 were opposed to the proposal, the Marietta Daily Journal discovered in an earlier open records request – there was only one public speaker at Wednesday’s meeting who did not speak about the laptop program,” Gillooly reports. “The laptop program now goes to the seven-member school board for a vote.”

Full article here.

66 Comments

  1. Plush, I sorta guessed that.

    I live in Los Angeles. If the Los Angeles City School District annouced that it was going to do something similar, I’d be against it. A) The schools are full of the children of illegal imigrants. The poor kids don’t even speak English, let alone read and write it. The LA City School District is always touting how many different languages are spoken in schools as if it’s something to be proud of.

    B) Education is not about throwing money at the situation. That’s always the solution here also. Let’s spend a billion dollars more as if that’s going to teach a kid to read, write, and run a business.

    Ha, my magic word is “mind.” A mind is a terrible thing to go to waste, but pouring money on it doesn’t save it.

  2. RE: Plush

    A child can start to read and write by using a keyboard. Reconizing the letters and finding out how to make them into words. I have been to schools where first grade kids are making iPhoto slide shows that tell a story, then producing it into a DVD to give to their parents so they see what they have learned and what they are doing. Some of higher grades were doing spreadsheets to do calculations, iChat to colaborate on projects with students in another classroom. Laptops, any laptop, but especially Apples with its easy to use creative software, helps kids learn.

    I know this because I was a part of a study at Penn State to see if kids could learn from playing online games, and there had already been a partial study done. That study wasn’t looking for certain things, but it was easy to see that poor kids, when given a laptop learn quicker. Of course the person that was doing the study wasn’t looking for this so had no concrete data to back it up but the person could see it. Thus why we were doing one to get statics that can prove it. I’m not sure how it went because I was an under grad in this graduate study program and I moved on after graduation, but I’m sure it went really well. Plus, there have been schools already using laptops that have shown that grades have improved after adding laptops into the classes.

    Most people are probably having problems with how the money is being spent. Like the time where a school was going to get laptops, but everyone protested saying they didn’t want their taxes to be spent on their kids education. Thus, it fell through because they removed the board members with people who would vote the laptop deal down. Just so the parents could save a few dollars.

    All I can say is F our kids now and you put them behind for life. Computer are apart of life wiether you like it or not, the sooner they learn, the better off they are later.

  3. JB, we’re not talking about little kids here. These are high school kids who can’t read. They aren’t going to use educational software. I’d much rather see this money going to start programs to teach things like financial planning. As for helping poor kids get their foot in the door, I do agree. I think they should have to prove they would take advantage of laptops by getting good grades to begin with. That would cut down the amount of money needed for laptops and open up money for things a lot more useful than computer skills. Can you imagine how much better off we would be if people, right out of high school, knew how to do things like paying their own taxes? Just basic skills needed for the real world.

  4. So the fact that they can’t read, means they shouldn’t have the same opertunities as everyone else. Maybe it never passed your mind that someone that can’t read at their age, can still learn. There are adults that are still learning to read, and the younger you start them on the path to learning, the better. So give the kids a laptop, some software, a teacher who encourages the kid to use it, and you have everything you need to give that kid a brighter future.

  5. Brando:A child can start to read and write by using a keyboard

    eh? how do you learn to write using a keyboard? I thought that is what pens and pencils and paper were for. Personally I am not against kids using laptops of any sort although using Apple is a bonus (for Apple). I am from the old school ( I started school in 1975 just before the original Star Wars movie came out) and I learned to write by using a pencil or pen and paper, and as far as I know that is still the ONLY way to learn how to write. In terms of learning how to do lots of other stuff on a computer, an iBook is great although great artists still use pencils and paper for drawing and sketching.

  6. Aaaah, but what about the sports programs that need new uniforms? Surely that is much more important than learning how to read and right. “Johnny is dumb as a box of rocks, but boy can he carry a football!” ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

    Sadly, this is the case at a lot of schools. Athletics, although important on some aspects, have slowly started to take precedence over the more important basic life-skills and core eduacation. For example, in many schools more money is dumped into sports programs than the arts and other creative-type classes. Many schools have lost that “balance” between core education, sports, and other extra-curricular activities and the arts. Face it, without the arts, we wouldn’t have music to listen to or movies to watch. Creativity needs to be nurtured as well.

    If laptops in the hands of these kids can help achieve that balance, then they would be foolish not to do it.

  7. Or you give them better teachers and a program for the younger children to teach them to read when they first start off in school and they are much better off. I do think they should have an opportunity to get ahold of these laptops. I also think they should prove they want to learn before they get all this money thrown at them. I see people every day at jobs working cash registers who can’t do basic math. I’m not talking calculus here, I’m talking adding and subtracting.

    Computer skills are very important. But when you have a 17 year old kid who can’t read, doesn’t want to learn to, and doesn’t think he needs to, a computer isn’t going to help. If you don’t understand the concept of subtraction, a calculator isn’t going to help. But a 2nd grade teacher who gets through to kids and shows them why learning is important will help. And showing high school students who had that teacher in 2nd grade how to manage a bank account will help.

    I can’t stress this enough, I’m all for equal opportunity, no matter how much money your family has. And if you make these kids get good grades before giving them technology, you are giving them all the same opportunity. You are just making sure they will use it.

  8. In this era of conservatism, people will oppose anything the gov’t wants to do. Here in Virginia, people are always opposing everything yet when a candidate for Governor several years ago proposed abolishing our car tax, he was voted in with flying colors. The only problem was, that the car tax (property taxes charged by cities and counties, not the state), was not abolished. The state just paid your car tax for you. The cities still received the taxes. And now, the state spends more on paying everybody’s car tax than they do on schools. But hey, we’re conservatives. We believe in smaller gov’t. Yeah right.

  9. Yes, because a keyboard has letters. When a child is told to find a letter on the keyboard, that child can associate what he/she is told to a letter by finding it on the keyboard. Hell, its just like the teacher writing it on the board and saying this is an “A” but the kid is doing the writing by finding the key and hitting it. Once the kid knows what and A looks like since the associationg witht he letter has been made, then they can find it on the keyboard, thus showing they remember what and A looks like. Moving along, that A can then be put together with more letters he learns into the word “Apple” (no pun). Thus, a kid knows how to make words. They can also then learn how to write too with pen and paper, but they can start the association quicker on a keyboard. Learning how to physically write is still going to be pen and paper and will still need to be taught, but how many reports do kids now a days submit that were written by pen and paper. My mom, and English teacher doesn’t take hand written anymore (9 to 12 grade). She even asks for an electronic document so she can use http://www.turnitin.com to see if the kids copied anything from some where else. She has even moved to having the kids submit to turnitin.com before they submit to her so they can make sure they are in the clear. Technology is moving forward people, probably at one point typewritters were said to not be needed in schools. Now most schools have some sort of typing class that is manditory (my school did). Don’t be left behind because you think the world is still flat.

  10. As much as I like technology (I’ve worked for various router manufacturers over the years), I find issue with school systems pumping in big money for ephemeral technology.

    There is a place for it (language labs, etc.), but handing one to every student does not gaurentee a better education. Frankly, I’d like to see the money go towards better teachers and respectable teachers salaries. What good is a laptop if you are still drilling the same memorized crap instead of teaching the material?

    I think the money is better spent on better teachers, not in a network that’ll be obsolete in a couple of years (that nobody really understands how to maintain), or laptops that will get wrecked in school year or two.

    There will be some retarded decision to save money that ends up hamstringing the whole project, too. For example, the HS that I attended spent a few hundred thousand to renovate the auditorium. It looks wonderful! But even though the music teacher who pleaded for a couple of thousand to be spent to run conduit from the lighting points and stage wings up to the control room to future-proof whatever type of cabling or technology might be used for future projects was denied. Now they have an expensive renovation that is no better in operation than the 40’s technology they left behind. And the School Committe wonders why they spent so much on useless room?…

    Look, our parents got good educations with far less. There isn’t much that is taught in schools today that is new (other than histor that changes). Other nations kick our collective butts on aptitude tests (for example, Ireland) and they don’t have laptops and wireless networks in schools.

  11. I’ve seen that basic lack of understanding you mentioned as well, Plush. I remember seeing a girl, probably in her mid-teens, at a clothing store with her mother. She was asking her mother how to figure out how much a shirt was going to be that she saw was on sale. The shirt was originally $19.99 and was 30% off. She was stumped. The kicker is that she had a calculator in her hand and STILL couldn’t figure it out. Yikes!

    I do agree that the foundation needs to be started early on, and hiring highly competent teachers to build that foundation is key, and paying them well for it is a must.

    But from my previous post, I still believe that the laptops can also have a profound influence on how the kids learn and can lead to a more balanced education. Technology can sometimes be the catalyst that sparks a childs interest. It is by no means a fix-all, but a viable means to an end just the same. Some kids simply need a kick to get them interested in learning. A laptop just may be that kick.

  12. From the article it does seem as though those opposed are opposed to the program, not to the fact that they want to buy iBooks, and I’m glad to hear that. They apparently want a study done to see whether it will work. There have been several similar programs started at various school systems around the country over the past few years and from what I’ve read, they’ve all been very successful in that test scores have gone up, etc. The idea being that the kids are intrigued by using the computers, so they take a more active roll. It’s too bad that’s necessary. Maybe if more parents would read to their kids at an early age they wouldn’t need computers to capture their attention, but that being said, i can definitely see how this could save schools money in some ways – after all, books can be very expensive too.

  13. Ok, I don’t know why we got on the subject of all the kids in these high schools don’t know how to read and write, so who ever brought that up as an argument to not giving them laptops, where did this come from? Where are your statistics for this? What makes you believe that all of them can’t read? And if these kids can’t read in the first place, where the hell are the parents to complain that their kids can’t and why havn’t the teachers all been fired yet?

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