Maine’s statewide Apple iBook program could offer insights for Massachusetts program

“Along with their textbooks and lunch money, every seventh- and eighth-grader [in the state of Maine] lugs another school-day essential from class to class: an Apple iBook,” Brian Kladko reports for The Boston Globe. “The state put a laptop into the hands of every Maine seventh- and eighth-grader three years ago. It’s a statewide program that Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts hopes to replicate on an even grander scale, saying that students need high-tech skills to succeed in the workforce. Romney’s proposal, which would be the largest of its kind in the nation, calls for spending $54 million to equip about a half million students — every Massachusetts student in the sixth through 12th grades — with a low-budget laptop. His plan, unveiled last week, depends on the availability of a laptop costing about $100, similar to one being developed by MIT.”

[MIT’s proposed $100 machine will be a Linux-based, full-color, full-screen laptop that will use innovative power (including wind-up) and will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data. These rugged laptops will be WiFi- and cell phone-enabled, and have USB ports galore. Its current specifications are: 500MHz, 1GB, 1 Megapixel.]

“Maine’s four-year contract to lease the 34,000 computers is due to expire at the end of the school year. The state has spent $37 million to lease the computers and train teachers. Governor John Baldacci supports the program, but is looking for ways to fund it, said Lynn Kippax, a spokesman for the governor,” Kladko reports. “While Romney proposes letting students own the laptops, students in Maine don’t get to keep them. The machines are treated much like textbooks, with students returning them at the end of the school year. Only some districts let students take laptops home; in others, the schools stow them in a cart overnight.”

“Lawmakers probably won’t hold a hearing on Romney’s laptop plan until November, said Representative Patricia A. Haddad, cochairwoman of the Joint Education Committee. Haddad, a former middle-school teacher, said that for all of the promise of laptops, they will bring all kinds of practical problems: What happens when students forget laptops at home? What happens when they break them?
She even fears that some parents might sell their children’s computer,” Kladko reports. “‘That’s probably a very unkind thing to say, but you think it’s not going to happen?’ Haddad said. ‘So where does that put that child? Are you now going to penalize this kid?'”

Full article here.
Parents might sell their children’s computer? Parents, excluding crack addicts, can you imagine?!

[MacDailyNews speculates above about one reason why anyone would even think of selling their child’s state-provided school laptop. MacDailyNews is not belittling the problem of crack cocaine or any other addiction. If you feel that you are addicted to any harmful substance or activity please seek help immediately. Do not sell your child’s state-provided school laptop.]

13 Comments

  1. Re: MITs $100 linux machines
    Ya know, there’s one huge irony with tooling up the 3rd world with technology and education.

    In 20 years they’ll potentially be out there to take your jobs (or maybe your kids’ jobs). It’s already happened before (e.g. Asian manufacturing), and it’s been moving up the food chain too (e.g. off-shoring of computer related jobs.) How long before the entire western civilization workforce is off-shored?

    Hmmmm… that would be good actually…. I could buy a hammock, and slack off all day whilst some “slave” fetches me my drinks and reads my books out loud for me, and his family back home makes me a new t-shirt and jeans, and probably my cell phone, laptop and fancy TV set….

    So, whilst in general I’m FOR helping out 3rd world countries (but not the crack addicts), I’m undecided about what the longer term effects will be. Perhaps college/university education should be made free so people in western countries have a fighting chance against the millions who will be learned in 20 years.

    Interesting thoughts if nothing else.

  2. If Apple wants to be in Massachusetts, they better offer some software products that work with the OpenDocument format. Something that Microsoft is refusing to add to Office. I would love to see Pages and Keynote support this document format. Then I wouldn’t have any problem buying them knowing that it would be a format I could use on any platform.

    Support the OpenDocument format. Then it gives consumers more choice. They can base their selection of software on features rather than lock-in.

  3. How how very human of you, Name. Screw everybody who by chance was born outside our contrived national border. They’re not real people anyway. But don’t limit your nationalistic selfishness to laptops. Why should they be allowed food either? That leaves less food for us Real People.

    Sick.

    MDN magic word is “society.” Eerie.

  4. Name, what name

    You are one sick puppy, I suggest you read “Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond. So you can see just how tenuous your privileged existence is. How outrageous you are to suggest that not all human beings should have access resources to better their lives. I see by your use of the word “whilst” that you are likely either a Pommie or an Aussie. So tell me what happened to the “British Empire”? Your time has come and gone.

    MW = defense
    asin, there is no defense for your statements.

  5. You guys don’t quite get it. Kladko is right; some family is going to sell the school’s computer. And you can’t penalize the kid by not giving them another, especially if the computer is an integral part of the educational process.

    There is an entire underclass in this country that most of us either don’t see or choose to ignore. These people live paycheck to paycheck–or quite often they don’t, and they resort to patronizing businesses that prey on their financial situation. There’s a reason check cashing outlets and pawn shops cluster themselves in the poorest parts of town. They know who their customers are. Sometimes drugs are a contributing factor, sometimes not.

    The minute a poor family can’t make the rent, or their car breaks down, or there’s not enough food to go around, that “cheap” (to you and me) computer is going to look like a great resource. When $50 or $100 can make a huge difference, pawning the laptop might seem reasonable.

    It’s a factor that should be considered. In some situations it might be better to keep the laptops at school.

  6. Darkness is right. It’s hard to understand the plight of the poor if you’ve never been there yourself, or unless you’ve really listened to someone who has. Calling it stealing and saying someone should be charged with an offense shows a total lack of appreciation for the fact that that won’t keep the laptop from being pawned or sold. It will happen. And what are you going to do, give the kid another one? Yeah, like the cycle won’t repeat itself.

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