Atlanta-area school district on verge of deal for 31,000 Apple iBooks

“To supporters, it’s the wave of the future. To opponents, it’s a multimillion-dollar boondoggle. A plan that would ultimately give laptop computers to every high school student in suburban Atlanta’s Cobb County has stirred passions on both sides. The county school board is expected to vote Wednesday on the first phase of the multiyear plan. If it goes ahead in its current form, the plan would cost about $14 million a year, says its chief supporter, school Superintendent Joseph Redden,” Doug Gross reports for Associated Press.

“The original Cobb County program would have given 63,000 Apple iBook laptops to students in grades six through 12 and to all of the county’s public school teachers,” Gross reports. “Cost concerns caused officials to scale back the effort by over half to include only Cobb’s roughly 31,000 high school students – after a violent backlash from vocal critics in the community. ‘It’s too much taxpayer money that they do not have the taxpayers’ permission to use,’ said state Rep. Judy Manning, a Marietta Republican who has been outspoken in her criticism of the plan. Under the current plan, teachers would get laptops this year. Current computer connections at schools would be revamped and as many as four schools would become test sites for the laptop plan. The vast majority of high school students would not get laptops sooner than next year, if the school board decides to go ahead with the program. This week’s vote would simply approve the first-year concept. A contract with Apple computers [sic] is still in the works.”

Full article here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Cobb teachers voice concerns over using Macs for proposed laptop program – March 29, 2005
Cobb County Georgia meeting discusses plan to equip schools with 63,000 Apple iBooks – February 24, 2005
Report: 90 percent of emails opposed to Georgia’s Apple iBook program – February 10, 2005
65,000 Apple iBooks for Georgia schools one of the largest school laptop programs in the country – February 10, 2005
Georgia school district to propose 63,000 Macs for students and teachers – February 07, 2005


  1. ^ No, you’re thinking of a frangipan. A boondoggle is what you need to start a game of three-card monty. Yeh-heh-hesssss.

    No, but seriously, I love how a contract is being worked out with “Apple computers“! That Associated Press and their reporters — you really gotta love ’em. This Doug Gross sounds like he needs to go back to school with a laptop!

    Hey, I keed. I keed the pool reporters.

  2. In the end, whether it works or not, seems to be dependent upon how carefully the plan is drafted and how efficiently it is implimented. I’m not too sure how much better a student will learn with a laptop as to without one, but if anyone is doing real research on it I would be intested to see such. If real gains can be seen, I suppose that I would be all for it; it may even turn out to be simply a case of just not falling behind. A lot of people are constantly criticizing US education as lagging behind (Japan, Europe, whatever) in technology and integration of technology, so it may be that we have to bite the bullet and shove laptops in all our students hands and simply pay the price. (Just as long as they’re Apples!!)
    I finished college before laptaps invaded, so I keep wondering how they deal with the use of laptops in classes. Seems the same problems would exist in high school. How do you keep students on task and not playing games, music, or web surfing??
    Anyway, good for Apple if they can retake some education market.

  3. I read an article somewhere recently about a study showing that kids with computers do worse academically. If I remember correctly, this concerned home computers, not school computers. That is, kids were playing games and surfing the Web, etc.

    Personal computers are hardly new, yet I see college kids (I work on a campus) who still don’t know such basics as click, double-click, click-and-drag, file hierarchy, etc. Computer literacy is not a valid reason for spending so much money, but a properly designed program can show kids how to use computers as productivity tools — for example spending more time on the topic of a paper, rather than learning how to use a particular text editor.

    This particular story is not a Mac versus Windows situation, but in such cases maybe a percentage of both may be purchased — then see who produces more output versus wastes time getting the machine to work.

  4. ‘It’s too much taxpayer money that they do not have the taxpayers’ permission to use,’

    Umm, since the taxpayers vote for the school board, I think that gives them the permission to spend the education budget.

    Republican representatives don’t understand that there are other branches of government they don’t control.

  5. So much porn, so little time to download, hope they chose Mac.

    “Let the children use it, let the the children lose it, let all the children boogie”
    -David Bowie in “Starman”

  6. Sounds like a good idea to start with the teachers. If they can manage to hang on to their laptops consider the students. I have been to Atlanta and those folks are less than medium bright. If the nepotism doesn’t get you, the fried grease will.

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