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. Here in the real world, throughout our Auto dealership network, I am in the middle of migrating over a thousand of our companies outdated and constantly troublesome Windows computers to Apple Macs. Our users don’t seem to care that they don’t use Microsoft’s operating system. They’re just happy that Word starts when they click it’s icon and that they don’t have to worry about “messing” up their computer with viruses.

  2. Dear Mr. Arndt,

    Could you tell me where the “real world” is? I can’t find it on Google Maps. I’m positive that I’m making a very good living in a multimillion dollar global business outfitted with many Macintosh computers, and I’m sure this business is located in said “real world.”

    If you think that making $35k per year entering wire transfers into a database using Windows is a “real world” job, where, conversely, making $65k, $85k, or even $150k per year developing consumer products, marketing campaigns, advertising campaigns, media events and more is not a “real world” job, then you’re either naive, or you intend to stunt education and opportunity for students in your community.

  3. Eric Willard is a moron. In fact, anyone who calls themselves a computer expert and ONLY knows Windows (or thinks Windows is the only viable platform) is a moron.
    Macs can run OS X, Windows, and Linux.
    GENERIC PC’s (yes – Dell, HP, Gateway, etc. are all GENERIC IBM clones) can only run Windows and Linux.

    Have I mentioned Eric Willard is a moron. My hope is that when anyone googles “Eric Willard,” they find the new catch phrase: “Eric Willard is a moron.” Post it everywhere so his name shines. >: )

  4. I own, and operate a multimillion dollar business entirely with Macs.

    Every once in a while I hear, “But they’re not compatible,” but as a class, such observers are underachievers.

    Those of us who frequent this site see it differently. But isn’t our frustration with this oblique reasoning the same we feel when we encounter other inpenetrable beliefs. It is for me.

    And the struggle is to try to understand where they’re coming from. In this case, I haven’t a clue.

  5. The dummy refers to the average age of the macs as 8 years old; doesn’t that tell him something about ROI ???? Something tells me that the disctrict is going to be spending a lot more money after the fact that this IT idiot is unaware of. If this was my SD, I’d be reaming his ass with the appropriate MS ZUNE brick technology.

  6. As a Tech Director for a school division I am horrified that an installed base of Apples will be replaced by Windows only PCs. I tend to select the right tool for the job (my network uses Mac, Windows, and Solaris). However, Macintosh has become my tool of choice for end users since the hardware and is better and can double as Windows PC when needed. Not to mention the Mac OS is far superior. This kind of “Apple is dead get only Windows” thinking existed in the late 90s. Today is a different story.

    Further, the fact that (as it is in my district) they have 8+ year old Macs still working should tell them something about Apple’s quality which has gone way down in the PC industry as a whole!

  7. These (8 year old) MACS are crap. Who wants MACS?
    .
    .
    .
    Whoooooooooooooa. Hold on there, cowboy. You can’t pick on those old PCs over there. They are 486s. You can’t judge today’s PCs by looking at those 486s. Whaddya mean I just did the same thing but with MACS? No, MACS are bad.

    Poor, stupid Eric Willard. Remember, Eric Willard is a moron.

  8. Did someone really say Apple Macintosh computers are not “appropriate technology?”

    What isn’t appropriate about giving kids a solidly stable and secure computing experience based on proven Unix technology and 30 years worth of open source improvements?

    “…most people use Microsoft programs in ‘the real world'” is a horrible justification. I don’t want any part of “real world” of computing for my children if it means the goal is to turn them into cubicle drones who make memos for Mr. Dithers. I can’t imagine setting the bar any lower. Secondly, the computers I used in high school were nothing like the machines I ended up using in my professional life. The reality is, the Mac you work on today will be poorly imitated by Microsoft in 5 years.

    District 300: Don’t bother with new computers unless they’re Macs, otherwise, use the money for something else. Removing Macs is a myopic IT decision which serves one Director of Technology, not the pupils of District 300.

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