Henrico County Apple iBook plan in jeopardy?

“The degree that the [Henrico County Apple iBook plan] has positively affected student education has yet to be determined. About $27.9 million has been spent on the laptops in the past four years,” Olympia Meola reports for The Richmond Tmes-Dispatch. “Internet filtering became a controversial element of the program several years ago when students were caught downloading pornography at school.”

“‘We’ve been using the best piece of software we can find,’ said Dave Myers, the county’s assistant superintendent for finance. Bidders are being asked to supply larger bandwidth to the laptops’ wireless card so the county could grant teachers the option to view all students’ computer screens electronically. School officials are also considering a filter system that works when students leave school, said Lloyd Brown, Henrico’s assistant director of technology and information services,” Meola reports.

“[Parent Steven Bass] and other parents see the omission of specific filtering requirements as a sign that school officials are trying to steer the contract to Apple, the current provider. Bass suggests that the request should be retracted and redesigned to seem less Apple-specific,” Meola reports. “‘It’s a very slanted proposal,’ Bass said. If school officials would like to go with Apple again, Bass thinks they should demand that Apple come up with the solutions. That’s not the case, county officials maintain. Brown denied any attempt to again sole-source the contract to Apple. Superintendent Fred Morton IV has repeatedly said the same. In fact, the county recently tweaked a hardware requirement in their request that made it easier for more laptop manufacturers to bid. ‘Whoever comes out with the best response will win the [contract],’ Brown said.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We hope officials take the total cost of ownership into account when reviewing the contracts and don’t act like Joe Six Pack at the local Wal-Mart and shortsightedly fixate on the sticker price alone. Besides, to go backwards from Mac OS X to Windows XP would be cruel and unusual punishment for Henrico students and teachers. Here are just a handful of articles (we have many more) that Henrico officials should keep in mind when making their decision:

Cybersecurity advisor Clarke questions why anybody would buy from Microsoft – February 18, 2005
Security expert: Don’t use Microsoft Windows, Office, Outlook, Internet Explorer – December 09, 2004
Cyber-security adviser uses Apple Macintosh to avoid Windows’ security woes – September 27, 2004
Information Security Investigator says switch from Windows to Mac OS X for security – September 24, 2004
Windows XP Service Pack 2 causing major headaches on college campuses – August 24, 2004
Scientists use Mac OS X for better performance, security – February 12, 2004
Pennsylvania school district’s PCs infected with virus; their Macs unaffected – October 01, 2003
Single Mac keeps company running while Windows machines fail due to Blaster worm – August 13, 2003

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Survey shows support for Henrico iBook program with ‘lukewarm support’ for Apple’s Mac OS X – March 07, 2005
Henrico poll finds students are using iBooks successfully – February 11, 2005
Henrico iBooks raise concerns among some parents – May 28, 2004
Henrico high school laptop program to continue, but will it still feature Apple Macs? – February 24, 2005

35 Comments

  1. Quote “Why is America always so uptight about pornography? I mean we know that all our parents did it or we wouldn’t be here, right? Not really that big a deal if you ask me. My wife (who is Japanese) is always kinda amazed at the values expressed in America. She is like, let me get this straight – They can show people getting shot and murdered by guns on TV but no breasts? And anybody can walk in and buy a gun but no breasts on TV? I mean, when you are comparing breasts and guns, isn’t one of these just a wee little bit more dangerous than the other?”End Quote

    Because they are “Ultra conservative god fearing christians” who believe it is more important to maintain the right to bare arms (read concealed weapons/guns) so that you can shoot/maim/kill another human which is totally unnatural, than see a small amount of natural exposed human flesh and create a national uproar about what is good a decent to be seen during family prime time TV….Go Figure!?

  2. A computer is not a replacement for a brain…

    Einstein didn’t have a computer…
    Nor did Kepler, Euclid, Newton, Copernicus, Galileo, Hobbes, Rousseau, Locke, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell… and on and on…

    The idea that a computer is necessary for anything other than basic word processing, email, and graphics manipulation as part of the school experience is laughable…

    Are you really learning on that computer, or just screwing around? Look at all the kids on IM… are they learning? l33t Grammar yo…

    Computers have no place in school where the potential for misuse is high. What a waste.

  3. “The idea that a computer is necessary for anything other than basic word processing, email, and graphics manipulation as part of the school experience is laughable… Are you really learning on that computer, or just screwing around? Look at all the kids on IM… are they learning? l33t Grammar yo…”

    Spoken like a true adult. All things must be serious.

    Way back in my youth–the 1970s–I used “conference programs” on mainframe computers to talk to people. One astonishing thing happened from all of this–I learned to type. And not by sitting at a keyboard and typing rows and rows of “yrvn uecm” over and over like I was instructed to do in typing class (actually, after about a week of that in typing class, I wrote a program to print it out and turned that in).

    There were plenty of others I knew who had the same experience–once they started using chat-type programs, they actually felt a lot more comfortable with a keyboard. It also made some realize that they could actually use a computer to do yucky work stuff (“What, you mean I can use this to do my term papers, too? Far out…”).

    Nowadays, I have nieces and nephews who use chat programs. While I occasionally get “yo d00d” messages from them, when I reply using proper grammar, they tend to get the message and do the same.

    As for the “part of the school experience”, I tend to agree. I’m sure there’s some great software out there that allows students a better understanding of a particular subject matter and I won’t say there isn’t. But I also point out that most of the advantage of computers is in the drudge-work of presenting your ideas.

    Remember the good ol’ days of school? Back in fifth and sixth grade, I remember having two write two or three drafts of a paper (and turn in each draft to be corrected). This was all done long-hand. Later on, in junior high, you would do two drafts–but the second one had to be typed.

    Imagine how much more time could have been devoted to research if you didn’t have to go back and rewrite entire sections that the teacher had said were fine? If all you had to do is go back and make the spelling/grammar corrections that the teacher had asked for. And when the paper called for better justification of a particular point you were making in the paper, you would have more time to research because you had to spend less time reproducing your work.

    That, to me, is where computers excel in the educational environment–much like in the business environment. They make the presentation of ideas–whether on paper, through images, or now-a-days, through video (something that was pretty much impossible back in my days of school) vastly easier. This allows the student to spend more time on research, on more interesting ways of presentation (say, an animated graphic or a video showing the physics of two billiard balls colliding), or–dare I say it–more time on extra-curricular activities outside of school. A kid may now have time to not only carry a full load of advanced class but to play on the soccer team and still have time to hang-out with friends on a Sunday afternoon!

  4. Dear Kath Day-Knight,

    Yawn…..

    While your lazy generalization does provide a wonderful example of your intellectual superiority, I was hoping you could provide a few examples of how most americans admire hatred.

    Also, knowing your country of origin would provide some context that I’m sure everyone would appreciate.

    Your friend,
    Poptart

  5. It all depends on the teacher quality whether there is value or not.

    I have done some some substitute teaching, and I know that there are a number of teachers who, if they have no adequate lesson plan, will just plant a number of students on the computers and just tell them to research something, anything on the internet. Often, they are troublesome students, and the computer is used as a babysitting device. (and please don’t download porn or music, pretty please?)

    On the elementary level, I did see some decent reading and math tutorials.

    So, my opinion is that, just as it has always been, good teachers will use computers well, and bad teachers won’t. Just like when all they used was books.

    Worth the money? Maybe.

  6. Jack A and Kath: I agree with you totally. I’ve lived in a number of countries including Sweden and the USA and the moral values generally expressed are totally opposite: in the USA violence is OK but sex is taboo, and in Sweden it is the reverse. Sadly, Oz may be heading down the USA path to some extent, though we are sufficiently non-prudish that it may take some time to reach that level of extremism. It is amusing (but sad) to hear what many less informed folk thing about Swedish moral values. A balanced perspective is probably the most valuable and hardest thing to cultivate.

    While pornography (especially hard core) has no place in most educational institutions (e.g. schools) perhaps (while filtering it out) an educational initiative can be formulated based on how we relate to each other (e.g. extreme examples being the desensitized view formed in cases of violence) and aim for the positive values; where people are taught to value each other as human beings.

    If a laptop program can help to do that (or guide such an iniative) that would be one of the better uses.

  7. european MDN forum template:

    Americans are just so <insert derogatory adj.>! In <insert country>, we have much more mature and nuanced attitudes about <insert non-mac-related, off-topic nonsense>. I can’t believe they still <insert any of various vague insults about guns, religious beliefs, TV, McDonald’s, etc.>. I hate them so! Ewwwww…

  8. All things need not be serious…

    The question is… are they learning, or as another put it… is it a babysitting device? The thing about computers is that it’s possible to look busy and not actually be doing anything.

    I’m all for the improved efficiencies that computers offer. But there’s a clear demarcation where the learning ends and the screwing around begins. If not managed properly, kids in school will spend hours aimlessly surfing the internet or in chatrooms.

    I’m afraid that’s already in higher proportions than is being admitted. But it’s PC to give everyone computers, especially if the “haves” already have it… can’t have a digital divide now can we?

    MDN word: “air”… as in, we’ll wind up with a bunch of air-heads who are really good at websurfing but can’t explain the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.

  9. UHH if parents are concerned about what the kids do with the laptops and where they surf on the internet, then perhaps they should teach their chldren morals and supervise their activities.

  10. Jack,

    If all people want to download are breasts, then that would not be much of a problem. But where do you draw the line? At Playboy level? Hustler? Crazy women doing it with donkeys? Snuff? Where do we draw the line?

    Kids don’t need to be exposed to sexually explicit information. Period. How can we be so outraged at pedophilia and not see that pornography is one of their main tools to lure children into illicit activity? And if you say we’re too uptight about kids and adults having sex, then you need to be jailed. But I’m sure that’s not what you meant.

  11. Jack A asked: “I mean, when you are comparing breasts and guns, isn’t one of these just a wee little bit more dangerous than the other?”

    If you have seen Woody Allen’s film “Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afriad To Ask”? you’d know that breasts can be very dangerous, indeed! ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”LOL” style=”border:0;” />

  12. Couldn’t a browser such as Freeverse’s KidsBrowser be substituted for Safari? That is password programmable to disallow or allow whichever is deemed appropriate for different age levels. Other filtering software like Intego’s ContentBarrier could also be integrated.

    As was mentioned earlier, ARD2 (Apple Remote Desktop) should have been a requirement for each teacher’s computer – with training in using it. It isn’t that hard! I think if Apple would also supply new and competent parents to these students who will oversee (or learn to oversee) what their kids are doing, it would solve the away-from-school Internet issues. (I’m sure that parent-replacement & training will written into the new proposal.)

    Parents who want to switch to Windows need more information (like the ENTIRE list of MDN references) and put in a cold, dark room until they have read them all! Perhaps they will be able to make a more informed “decision” (the MW) at that point. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  13. Steve Jobs (though I doubt that is your real name ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” /> ) I was simply pointing out the ironic situation that exists on what is allowed to be shown on television in the US. Graphic violence is OK but the human body without pieces of cloth covering it is not.

    Sex is an activity that should be limited to adults because of the possibility of creating a new life and all the responsibility that that should involve. At what age one is considered an adult is a societal judgment that is more of a gray area. People used to get married quite often at 14 or 15 years old in the United States but you don’t see this happening very often any more. I do think, though, that a lot of people this age still engage in sexual activity and this probably has a lot to do with biology and hormonal surges that are a legacy of a time in the development of the human race when it made a lot more sense to do so at that age than it does in today’s world. An unfortunate circumstance perhaps but one which we will just have to accept and deal with as best we can since I don’t think it will be possible anytime soon to custom tailor our biology to fit current societal norms.

    Doing violence to another human being, however, is an activity that I would prefer not even adults be allowed to indulge in and if your argument that pornography “lures” people into doing sexual acts, then the obvious corollary would be that showing graphic violence or murder would “lure” people into doing violence or murder. Although I would agree that both of these arguments may be true in some instances, overwhelmingly it would seem that the vast majority of people are able to resist participating in the porn industry or in doing physical violence to or murdering other people. And in the instances where people do succumb to either of these “lures”, I think that deficits in upbringing, education, and interaction with parents have as much or probably more to do with it than seeing it on TV or the internet.

    As for filtering programs, I think they are a good device to prevent young children from accidently being exposed to adult images that they have no interest yet nor desire to see. However, when kids reach an age where they want to get access to material of this nature, the filter programs will probably only succeed in making it a bit more difficult and forcing them sneak around to get access. But get access they will, and making them have to do it clandestinely probably results in a lot of screwed up impressions that human sexuality is somehow “bad” or “dirty” that may cause them problems in later life. So all the parents worried that their kids may be using the laptops to look at pictures of people engaged in sexual activity are probably right and a lot of the kids probably are but I don’t think we should be making that big of a deal of it.

    I agree that common sense and reason must come into play here and I think the fact that the current situation for TV in America is decidedly lacking in both in some instances is what prompted my comments. Janet Jackson’s nipple causing such an uproar is a prime example. Frankly I did not think that was really as big of a deal as a lot of people seemed to want to make it out to be. If I had to make a choice of my kids accidently seeing a nipple or a scene from a movie where people are murdered, common sense (at least for me) would prompt me to choose the nipple. However, for the vast majority of people, I don’t think either would probably cause much long lasting harm, especially if the parents were making an effort to interact effectively with their children.

  14. This has gone way overboard, here. Somehow, Henrico parents’ conviction not to have the laptop program turned into a pornfest for their 14 year-olds has become Jack A’s screed on the poor, ignorant parenting that results in teaching that the loving sex depicted in “Anal Rescue: 911” is something “bad” or “dirty”. No decent parent wants their children to learn about sex from porn.
    As for the tiresome tongue-wagging against American TV, most of the arguments here are not even factual. They do a pretty good job, in my opinion, of keeping anything graphic off the tube (at least on broadcast) until the tots are nestled in. But after 10pm, I’m the one who’s up, and I don’t always want to see oddball romances or quirky comedies – I want to see Peckinpah and Tarantino. Think there might be some biological imperative towards violence? Or is it just sex?

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