Chicago area school district tech director wants to phase out Macs for ‘more appropriate technology’

“A task force is being recruited to wean Community Unit School District 300 [located approximately 40 miles northwest of Chicago] off Macintosh computers for more ‘appropriate technology,'” Jeanne Hovanec reports for The Courier News.

Hovanec reports, “Spearheaded by Eric Willard, the district’s new director of technology, the Platform Transition Task Force will begin meeting in January to develop implementation of the districtwide change. Willard, shortly after beginning his position in April, decided to phase out the district’s use of Macintosh computers and focus on Microsoft’s Windows Operating System and Lenox Softworks’ open source systems.”

MacDailyNews Note: Lenox Softworks: http://www.lsw.com/solutions/elearning.html

Hovanec continues, “Willard said he decided on the new platform because most people use Microsoft programs in ‘the real world,’ and open source systems provide a way for the district to keep students from downloading items such as music and movies onto the school’s computer hard drives — items that, ultimately, cost the district to delete.”

“‘We will have a challenging time at the high school level taking away the Macs,’ Willard said. ‘The task force has to develop an implementation that takes into consideration the emotion involved. For some reason, people have heard about this, and some are very passionate about Macintosh computers.’ Currently, the district has about 3,000 Macintosh computers in use, in addition to 1,500 Windows computers. Willard said the average age for the Macintosh computers is 8 years,” Hovanec reports.

Hovanec reports, “A referendum proposal that voters approved in March allowed for the district to revamp its technology and purchase new Macintosh computers this school year, but Willard does not know how many. ‘We just bought Macs; we can’t throw them out,’ Willard said. ‘We can’t just change everything over tomorrow. It will probably be a three- to five-year process.'”

Hovanec reports, “Willard said the approximately $733,000 allocated in the district’s 2007 budget for technology-related expenses — such as equipment, software and supplies — will not be altered. He is quick to point out that the cash flow coming into the district is being tied up by the heavy construction going on with the three new schools being built. He said there actually is no money to purchase new computers for that budget year. ‘Now is a good time to stop and plan for this properly,’ he said. ‘You have to do the right thing with the taxpayers’ money.'”

“In making the transition, Willard said the district will incorporate the use of Macintosh computers but keep them in a concentrated area, such as only in middle or elementary buildings. He said the district currently has ‘support problems’ because Windows and Macintosh computers are scattered throughout the schools,” Hovanec reports.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Is someone going to inform this genius that Apple Macs can run both Mac OS X and Windows (and Linux, for that matter) and that his “support problems” would evaporate if he phased out the Windows dreck in favor of Macs, but not vice versa? Don’t blame 8-year-old Macs, blame your district’s inability to keep current technology in the hands of students. We wonder if they have any 8-year-old Windows machines that are still functioning? And most people use Microsoft programs in “the real world?” What, like Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)? They make a Mac version of Office, Mr. Willard. That this doofus is a “director of technology” tells you just about all you need to know about the sorry state of most U.S. public school systems.

Contacts:
Dr. Kenneth Arndt – Superintendent: karndt@d300.kane.k12.il.us
Eric Willard – Director of Technology: ewillard@d300.kane.k12.il.us

The District 300 Board of Education will hold a Public Board Meeting on Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lakewood School.
Public meetings calendar: http://www.d300.org/cgi-bin/webevent.cgi?cmd=opencal&cal=cal17&

Contact the District 300 Board of Education: http://www.d300.org/cms/html/comments.php

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Apple Mac #1 in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) education market – October 31, 2006
The Seattle Times: Apple Macbook is best computer for school – August 26, 2006
State of Maine awards middle school contract to Apple Computer for 34,000 iBooks – March 21, 2006
Group questions wisdom of dumping Macs in favor of HP Windows PCs in Boulder, CO schools – February 06, 2006
Apple announces 30,000 iBooks deal with Florida’s Broward County Public Schools – July 27, 2005

122 Comments

  1. Just lovely… Another idiot director of technology that just doesn’t get it. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”hmmm” style=”border:0;” /> Some of these people need to get out of their Windows-centric life.

    I am a Computer Analyst/Programmer by trade, who just happens to be studying to become a Mathematics teacher. I am going to have fun with bloody techies like this in the school district where I will be working.

    I am going to have my own black Mac Book for teaching my classes, because I refuse to use Windows crud that they issue. I can do the same thing on a MacBook that I can with their DELL notebooks, yet the end result is going to be easier and better.

  2. He really didn’t give good reasons.

    And could somebody tell me where the “real world” is? I can’t find it on Google Maps, and I could swear I’m working in a multimillion dollar business outfitted with Macs in said real world.

  3. Dude probably thinks he’ll save some dollars by going with Wintel hardware. Wait until he’s faced with hiring a dozen extra staff to handle all of the virus, spyware issues and helpdesk calls that a Windows environment necessitates.

  4. I just wrote Arndt.

    Dear Mr. Arndt:

    I guessing you’re swimming a deluge of email about your decision to replace the school districts’s aging Macintosh’s with Windows based computers. I’m sure just about every email admonishes you against such an idea. This one is no different. If you haven’t been watching technology trends you should. Yes, Windows does still dominate, but they are losing their share. As history bears out industry leaders do not keep the lead forever. Eventually, within the lifetime of your students Microsoft will no longer dominate the computing industry. Already many technology experts are looking at switching to Macintosh computers. Additionally many of the programs that are availble on Windows are available on Mac OS X. Those that are not can be run on Windows on a Macitosh via Parralels or Boot Camp. Yes, running Windows in Parralels slows the computer down a bit, but that is only a big enough hit against performance to affect graphically intensive games. The other option is Boot Camp, which many tech experts say allows Windows to run on a Mac faster than a Windows dedicated PC. My eliminating your Macintosh computers you are severely hamstringing your students for the long term. Buy Macs, run Windows under Parralels. Let them learn both platforms so that they can be competitive in the real world.

    Thank you Mr. Arndt.

    Someone should send him some of Mossberg’s articles.

  5. Those 8 year old machines probably save the district a few hundred thousand by now but it sounds like these guy haven’t upgraded past system 8 and or they haven’t learned how to use true UNIX usr account based systems. I say yes upgrade but not to a poorer product. At the University level more ground breaking reaserch is dome in the sciences on MACs than on PC’s keeping the MAC centric would allow the district better flexibility and save them about $1M over 10 years.

  6. He got an email from me, with just the link and a few words of wisdom regarding how the childrens minds should be used for CREATIVE purposes, not spent troubleshooting a Windows machine. Does he want to produce a bunch of graduates who will be accountants, or does he want the kids to be Creative musicians, film makers, game developers, artists etc etc etc…

    if its the former, then this sure sounds like communism

    MD Word: “Son” As in: I dont want my son to have to use windows at school!

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