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MA High School Forces All Students To Buy MacBooks 1217

Posted by Soulskill
from the at-least-it's-not-ipads dept.
An anonymous reader sends in this excerpt from the Salem News: "A new program at Beverly High will equip every student with a new laptop computer to prepare kids for a high-tech future. But there's a catch. The money for the $900 Apple MacBooks will come out of parents' pockets. 'You're kidding me,' parent Jenn Parisella said when she found out she'd have to buy her sophomore daughter, Sky, a new computer. 'She has a laptop. Why would I buy her another laptop?' Sky has a Dell. Come September 2011, every student will need an Apple. They'll bring it to class and use it for homework. Superintendent James Hayes sees the technology as an essential move to prepare kids for the future. The School Committee approved the move last year, and Hayes said he's getting the news out now so families can prepare. 'We have one platform,' Hayes said. 'And that's going to be the Mac.'"
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MA High School Forces All Students To Buy MacBooks

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  • by dward90 (1813520) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:34PM (#32541330)
    Suppose I were the parent of an underprivileged child. Suppose I live paycheck-to-paycheck, and don't have room in my budget for this. What the hell is the school going to do when I refuse to adhere to this absurdity? Fail my child? This wreaks of something illegal.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:36PM (#32541364)

    A new program at Beverly High will equip every student with a new laptop computer

    Odd, from reading the summary, it sounds more like the parents will do that, while the 'program' will just require it.

  • My two cents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Antony-Kyre (807195) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:36PM (#32541372)

    Is it really necessarily to require every student to have a laptop in order to learn? Are they saying it's nearly impossible to correctly teach students without this technology?

    And sure, while technology makes things easier to do, it almost feels like they're blaming the lack of technology for not being able to properly teach the students. But, that's my opinion.

  • by jbeach (852844) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:37PM (#32541382) Homepage Journal
    Macs are at least a step up from Windows in terms of viruses and security - which I expect is why the school chose macs rather than pc's. Keeping a bunch of PC laptops free of viruses would be a nightmare for any public-school IT department. If they even have an IT department, and it isn't just a second job piled onto the computer teacher's desk.
  • Linux Netbooks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZeroSerenity (923363) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `50camrog'> on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:38PM (#32541408) Homepage Journal
    Probably a far better idea to get them all netbooks. They're cheaper and they will draw less irk from parents. Besides, what can a Mac do that Linux can't when it comes to schoolwork? And I'm not going to even mention using Windows and how much a joy that could be.
  • by morphotomy (1655417) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:38PM (#32541414)
    High schools have a strange sense of "voluntary."
  • by dward90 (1813520) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:40PM (#32541448)
    "They'll bring it to class and use it for homework."

    Hard to do homework if you can't do it at home.
  • Reality? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:40PM (#32541458)

    How is forcing all the students to use Macs in a world dominated by windows PCs preparing them for reality?

    These people are fucking stupid.

  • Ubiquity (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ArbitraryDescriptor (1257752) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:43PM (#32541514)
    Ignoring the issue of forcing parents to come off $900: Why go with Apple? A Linux-PC is free+hardware and a Windows platform is the most probable system these kids will wind up using at work. I don't think Hayes is being terribly objective here.
  • Oh, really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:43PM (#32541524) Journal

    Sounds like a lawsuit to me. The school board is requiring people purchase a specific computer without reimbursement to get an education. Last I checked, everyone in the U.S. is entitled to a free education up through high school.

  • Re:WTF (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 91degrees (207121) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:44PM (#32541540) Journal
    It doesn't require a lot of experience to switch between Windows and Mac. I'd expect someone with experience with one platform and absolutely zero on the other to be up to speed in a day or two.
  • by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:44PM (#32541542) Homepage

    Macs are at least a step up from Windows in terms of viruses and security - which I expect is why the school chose macs rather than pc's.

    Oh please. They are "requiring" Macs because they have more chic style cache. The people signing off this policy probably don't have a clue about security. But damn, that Mac book is very cool looking indeed.

    Also, the *ARE NOT* requiring students to *BUY* one. Those that choose not to can check one out at school (though not take them home).

    I think the whole idea is ridiculous, and focuses on the wrong things. High school kids can barely write legibly, can not spell nor understand basic math. These are the issues the school should be focusing on.

  • by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:46PM (#32541554)

    Macs are at least a step up from Windows in terms of viruses...

    Yes (popularity).

    ...and security

    Lol. No.

  • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:46PM (#32541564) Journal

    Last I checked, every child in the United States is entitled to a free education up to the 12th grade. If one has to pay even $0.01 a month to get an education, then the education is not free.

  • Stupid. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MaWeiTao (908546) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:49PM (#32541606)

    Outside of a programming class why the hell do high school, hell even college students, need a laptop for school? I guess it's because of idiocies like this that we spend more, by far, per student than the rest of the world.

  • by masmullin (1479239) <masmullin@gmail.com> on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:49PM (#32541610)

    Sorry teacher. I'm not rich enough to do my homework.

  • Re:Honestly (Score:2, Insightful)

    by natehoy (1608657) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:49PM (#32541626) Journal

    Good point, but I would submit the fact that 90% of all people who have a PC have Windows to go with it would be an excellent answer. Yes, the school could also (bad car analogy FTW!) standardize on right-hand-drive vehicles to drive in their parking lot so everyone is driving on the same side of the road, but that's ignoring an underlying standard that pretty much everyone already has a car, and it's probably a left-hand-drive here in the US.

    I know standardizing will make the school admin's jobs easier, and I don't think tax dollars should be buying laptops, so as far as this program goes it makes a certain sense. Pick a standard, make the parents buy to that standard, offer in-school loaners for kids who need them.

    But if they need to standardize on something it would seem to make sense to standardize on something that most people already have. If you don't already have it, you can get a basic netbook for $250 to run Windows, and a decent laptop for under $500 rather than forcing a high-school student to be responsible for a $900 machine and their parents responsible for replacing it when it gets dropped. I bet Apple won't offer the same deep discounted price of $900 on the MacBook when Little Jimmy drops his first one in December, and his second one in March.

  • Re:Honestly (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:49PM (#32541628) Journal

    The difference is that, by making this a requirement, this amounts to a tax to attend school. And, the tax isn't even being paid to the school district, it is being paid to Apple.

  • Re:My two cents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by techstar25 (556988) <techstar25 AT cfl DOT rr DOT com> on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:50PM (#32541644) Homepage Journal

    Is it really necessarily to require every student to have a laptop in order to learn?

    Albert Einstein didn't have a laptop in school.
    Ben Franklin didn't have a laptop in school.
    Stephen Hawking didn't have a laptop in school.
    Thomas Edison didn't have a laptop in school.
    Nikola Tesla didn't have a laptop in school.
    Even Bill Gates didn't have a laptop in school.
    They turned out okay.

  • Re:Linux Netbooks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:52PM (#32541682)

    Because the majority of the businesses in this country dont use Windows? Hire some IT staff worth a damn and teach these kids on what is being used. Be realistic.

  • Re:My two cents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grishnakh (216268) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:53PM (#32541696)

    I think it's crap. Today's kids can't read or write worth a damn. They'd be better off just eliminating computers from classrooms altogether, and concentrating on teaching the basics. I never needed a computer, or anything besides a calculator, for high school or any of the basic college classes (obviously, computer programming classes were a different matter).

  • by dward90 (1813520) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:53PM (#32541706)
    The fact that they make it slightly less of a challenge doesn't make it acceptable. They directly sponsor the most expensive vendor in the market and encourage parents to spend unreasonable amounts of money on unnecessary equipment. What are they going to do when high school students lose, destroy, and otherwise render unusable $900 equipment that they do not own? They're going to charge parents. Their only goal is to externalize costs, not help students.
  • by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:53PM (#32541724)

    And then they'll get a project, or a homework assignment, or just plain harassed and abused in one way or another until they cough up the $$$.

    This is a SCHOOL we're talking about.

  • by wynler (678277) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:54PM (#32541746)
    It's not free.  It's payed for by taxes.  So even though the parents don't get an education bill each month.  They still get a property tax bill, and an income tax bill, and a sales tax on every purchase.
  • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StayFrosty (1521445) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:54PM (#32541752)
    Schools should teach students how to think, learn and figure things out; not how to use one particular program or operating system. Then the platform used for teaching wouldn't have to be the same one used in the real world. Besides, My learning how to use Office 95 and Office 97 in High school was worthless when 10 years later Office 2007 came around and they changed the entire UI. Luckily, I spent my time in school learning how to learn for myself. The transition wasn't that terrible. Many other people where I work learned by memorizing where the menu options were and ended up being completely lost in Office 2007.

    EVERY employer requires M$ Office experience...

    This isn't always true either. I doubt the largest employer in the city where I work require any computer skills for the assembly line workers. Neither do the construction companies whose employees are expanding the building I am sitting in. If you are talking about white collar jobs, you might have a point but most of these require a degree of some sort. Anyone graduating with any sort of degree is going to have used Microsoft Office at least a little so what students use in High School is irrelevant to the real world.

  • by wiredlogic (135348) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:55PM (#32541776)

    Kudos to your daughter for willing to be the weird kid with the oddball computer.

  • by easterberry (1826250) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:55PM (#32541780)

    So just like the real world. :-)

    *blink* *blink*

    oh
    my
    god
    You're right. And they'll probably browse slashdot during class too.

    It is an exact simulation of my current work day! This school district is brilliant at this.

  • Sales Rep WIN (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Trip6 (1184883) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:56PM (#32541788)

    Who was the Apple sales rep on this account? Huge WIN - to FORCE parents to buy a kid a new machine when they might well ALREADY HAVE ONE that works perfectly well.

  • by wynler (678277) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:56PM (#32541808)
    Real world:  Employer pays you for your work, and provides you with any work materials.
    School World: You pay the school in order to do work, and provide your own materials. 
  • Re:Not surprising (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BlackSnake112 (912158) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:57PM (#32541828)

    If the school had said windows there would be many comments like:

    Windows is evil!
    Microsoft is evil!
    Windows is the source of all evil!
    Windows is making the kids dumber!
    The school will be virus/malware central!
    The school has been assimilated!

    There are many others.

  • by farble1670 (803356) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:58PM (#32541852)

    If they instead opted for a Windows laptop it would be nearly impossible to standardize

    it's not like they will be writing device drivers or hooking up exotic peripherals. they need a browser, email, IM, and maybe an IDE. they'll need to standardize on those anyway, but windows wouldn't make it any harder.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:01PM (#32541934)

    I mean, really, what education experience is my child suppose to get by being locked into a platform not primarily used by business? If it was Ubuntu/(Insert linux flavor here) or Windows, then I could understand the requirement of one OS.

    This is just the schools utter lazyness and favoritism. At least the parents get to buy it though and prove it doesn't have scripts built into it to spy on the kids.

    -CdDM

  • by mjperson (160131) <mjperson@mit.edu> on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:02PM (#32541966)

    I assume you've never sent a kid to school. They constantly come home with lists of required purchases. Tossing a laptop onto the list is a larger scale, but no different in spirit than requiring: 5 spiral bound notebooks, 2 sewn binding composition books, a hand-held pencil sharpener, 10 number 2 pencils, etc...

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:03PM (#32541986)

    That is usually how these sort of things come about. I mean when you get down to it, there is no good reason to require students to have computers. It makes sense to have computers at your school, and to use them for various things and tech students about them, but it does not make sense to try and make everything computer based. I do not believe everything is made better by computers, and I love computers. Sorry, but I don't see math being better done on a computer. I think a book, a calculator (for more advanced math) and a piece of paper is a good way of doing it. I work at a university and we don't mandate laptops for students. We have a lot of computers on campus and they are used extensively, but you don't need a computer for everything.

    So programs like this do not tend to come out of real educational needs. Rather they come from fanboy types. You get the person who thinks their chosen computer is just the greatest thing ever and thinks life would be so wonderful is everyone had one. So the district technology person, or the superintendent or whatever is a Mac head who thinks their Macbook is the greatest thing since sliced bread. They get the idea through their head that every student should have one, rather than evaluating what technology might be useful (for example maybe the money is better spent on projectors and digital whiteboards for classrooms). Thus you get a program like this.

    Never underestimate a poorly informed fanboy in a position of power. As an example the newspaper here on campus is, as one might expect, Mac centric. So they badly needed to replace their newsroom computers, they were old original iMacs (the 5 colour kind) and were breaking down in addition to being not supported. Also as you'd expect being a newspaper and on a campus, they are strapped for cash. So my friend who is their tech guy worked up a cheap Linux PC for them. Would have cost like $350 per seat including monitor. Wasn't powerful, but didn't need to be, newsroom computers are just for word processing and some web surfing. They wouldn't go for it. The higher ups are Mac heads and insisted they had to have Macs. My friend brought in a system to show them how well it worked, how it integrated with what they had and so on. No go, they bought a bunch of $1500 iMacs. They spent many times what they needed to simply because they had fanboys who decided that was what they had to have.

  • by SailorSpork (1080153) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:05PM (#32542044) Homepage

    Sorry teacher. I'm not rich enough to do my homework

    See? They ARE teaching kids real-life skills... just maybe not the ones they intended.

  • by jayme0227 (1558821) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:06PM (#32542054) Journal

    If this was a private school, I'd have no problem with it. Private schools can do what private schools want. This is a public school, and they are requiring students & their parents to pay out extra money for laptops. And it's not just any laptops, but they must be MacBooks.

    Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for teaching kids about technology. But requiring them all to have MacBooks, even if they already have their own non-Apple laptops, is absurd. What can they teach about technology at large, using a MacBook, that they cannot teach using Windows? Furthermore, it is likely that when these kids graduate high school and go to college, they will find Windows machines far more readily accessible than Macs. After college, most of these students will find that prospective employers won't even give them the choice to work on a Mac.

    I could possibly get on board with the school requiring laptops, but requiring them to buy (or lease or borrow) new machines, and not giving them the choice of which OS they can use, to me, crosses the line.

    PS - How long until the first pics of some kid popping Mike & Ike's surface on the net?

  • That's hardly fair (Score:5, Insightful)

    by N0Man74 (1620447) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:09PM (#32542122)

    How can you expect Americans to have aristocracies if you stand in the way of holding back or penalizing the poor!?

  • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:11PM (#32542154) Journal
    Damn right. I'm glad that my school was forward-thinking enough to teach me Windows 3.11 and Microsoft Works and Word 2. All that other time that they spent teaching me the concepts underlying the systems was completely wasted, because when I got out into the real world I found that everyone used Window 3.11 and Word 2.
  • by Serious Callers Only (1022605) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:11PM (#32542156)

    This is just as bad as mandating all Microsoft software - I feel like I'm back in the 1990s.

    They should be using the web to get any content out to students, and then students could use whatever sort of computer (or device!) they want, including ipads, thinkpads, or smartbooks or their latest phone which they use instead of a computer. Then in five years time when the next hot new thing comes along or their mac software is broken by a new OS, or Apple drops Mac OS completely (the last WWDC was almost entirely taken up with iOS), they will not be left stuck on an abandoned platform dealing with bit rot in old applications and wondering why they mandated that everyone must use this. You know, like those companies that still use Windows 2000 because they are tied to binaries on that platform and they don't want the hassle of moving on.

    This is exactly what the web was made for. If they used platform-agnostic html to deliver their student content (no active-x, no binary plugins), they would have an always up to date resource which students could access from anywhere, and which did not mandate any particular technology to access it (every platform nowadays has a browser). Students could deal with their own tech support, and the school could issue free (far cheaper) web devices to those who needed them.

    The question nowadays is not mac or PC, it should be binary or markup, and the answer is pretty obvious for the needs of a high school.

  • by evil_aar0n (1001515) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:17PM (#32542252)

    Perhaps more "expensive" in up-front costs, but definitely less expensive over the long run - assuming these kids aren't using the machines to pound nails into walls. Since I started using a Mac, full time - almost four years ago - I've had 0, none, zilch down-time due to system problems. I had one hardware fault, which can happen on any platform. I don't have to futz with this to get it to do what I want; I don't have to be my own sys admin. I just do my thing. The same goes for the other half-dozen people that I converted to Macs. Where they'd often call me for support, I now only hear from them when they have something else to say.

    So, maybe it's a few extra dollars out of pocket, immediately. I'll take the peace of mind and ease of use over the long run.

  • by Trahloc (842734) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:18PM (#32542286) Homepage
    True, but thats sort of irrelevant. The rich kids get an even greater leg up as teachers start catering their assignments to a 'everyone has access to a laptop' because its more convenient. As always the poor kids get shat on since he can't review the stuff at home like the rich kids can. When the rich kids only had personal laptops the teacher was pretty much forced to keep to the pen and paper ethos, now with a standardized system they've been given the green light to shun it 'for the environment'.

    Yes, I'm giving an extreme case. No, that doesn't mean it won't happen.
  • by Tetsujin (103070) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:26PM (#32542390) Homepage Journal

    Prithee be true.

    Because a future with Microsoft is as horrible to contemplate as a future run by Cardassians.

    Would you trade one Microsoft for another? It's like driving the Cardassians out only to let the Dominion in...

  • by jgardia (985157) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:28PM (#32542448)

    And you need a car to work?

  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:31PM (#32542492)

    Or how about "No, I'm not going to buy my kid a POS Mac."? I'm sure at least one Windows or Linux adminstrator's child goes to high school there.

    Don't you think a Windows administrator would be very happy to know that they can put their feet up when they come home from work and don't have to administer their kid's computers as well?

  • by PrimaryConsult (1546585) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:36PM (#32542594)

    Yes but they're using Macs. Why not just use netbooks w/Windows 7 Starter? Cheaper for taxpayers and parents alike, and Windows 7 at least prepares them for the corporate world.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:38PM (#32542632) Journal

    >>>They just get the option of paying for the school's crazy Macbook program either directly or via taxes.

    Yes. They also pay taxes when they don't send their kids to school at all (i.e. homeschool). Or for Amtrak even if you've never set foot on a train. That's the unfairness of a monopoly in a nutshell. It's the government equivalent of having to send $1000 to Microsoft every year, even if you never use MS operating systems.

    In European countries the money follows the kid, so if they choose to go to Apple Elementary or Montessori Ed, or wherever, then the dollars go there. So if the parent decides this MacBook idea is stupid, he can just quit that school and go somewhere else. There's no negative consequences of that decision.

  • by BarryJacobsen (526926) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:47PM (#32542794) Homepage

    Replying to myself, but I just remembered why this is probably should be illegal: In other government endeavors, vendors bid for contracts. The organization (in this case the school) defines its requirements, and different vendors submit solutions that fill those requirements. The organization selects the vendor that can fill its needs at the most reasonable price. The school obviously didn't do that, or even consider it. They externalized the purchase so it isn't absolutely a contract-requiring program, circumventing measures meant to save the government (and ultimately, taxpayers) money.

    Or they did a bid for some software that they wanted and the cheapest bid was for some OS X software. Now they need computers to run the software and Apple has the cheapest bid for a computer than can run OS X software.

    Or even more likely they did a TCO study based on how much they were spending to support Windows machines versus OS X machines in the district and the Apple machines came out to be cheaper in the long run (as if you read the article the school district itself is providing full IT support for all of the laptops - think about how many viruses several thousand horny teenage boys could inflict upon those machines on their quest for the female anatomy).

  • by alizard (107678) <alizard AT ecis DOT com> on Friday June 11, 2010 @06:01PM (#32542994) Homepage
    and his cronies in IT without pay and start investigating whatever sweetheart deal the superintendent made with Apple or with an Apple VAR instead, including any kickbacks paid or to be paid to the superintendent. For instance, is the guy now driving a car far more expensive than superintendents usually drive? Is he moving to a wealthy, upscale neighborhood? Basically, the only justification I can see to require parents to buy their kids Macs is either dishonesty or incompetence... while the superintendent isn't required to know anything, he is required to be able to obtain honest, competent IT advice and it's obvious he didn't even try.

    I can see requiring a laptop for students in the 21st Century. It's a lot cheaper to deliver textbooks on that platform and it's easier for students to carry a dozen textbooks if they're all on a hard drive and weigh nothing over and above the weight of a laptop.

    If the IT people are incapable of delivering platform-agnostic documents and applications, they're either incompetent or should be under suspicion of participating in a conspiracy with the superintendent of defrauding the taxpayers.
  • What a twist! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SammyIAm (1348279) on Friday June 11, 2010 @06:09PM (#32543096)

    I signed up for my highschool's laptop program (completely voluntary) back in 2000. All students were required to provide their own laptops, and since the school was "PC-only", that's what students were told to buy. I ended up being probably one of maybe two students in the program who did have a Mac. Never had any trouble completing any assignments, and actually had it a little easier since some of the "security" measures they tried to implement were only Windows compatible, so I wasn't bothered by it.

    While I find it cool that a school has decided to be pro-Mac, I think it's unreasonable for the school to dictate exactly which computer students need to buy. I could understand if the school said "we only support Macintosh" and PC-laptopers had to troubleshoot their own problems. But there's no reason students shouldn't be able to use PC laptops at their own risk.

  • by lgw (121541) on Friday June 11, 2010 @06:09PM (#32543102) Journal

    You mean: a lot of places charge employees for parking, because a lot of places are cheap bastards. Lot space doesn't come for free ...

  • "Windows 7 at least prepares them for the corporate world."

    Which is all high school is for anyway. (And no, there is no sarcasm being used at all.)

  • by RocketRabbit (830691) on Friday June 11, 2010 @06:25PM (#32543288)

    I think this is why the media is making a big deal out of the situation. I know here in Portland that one school required all the parents to purchase laptops, but they went with Windows like all good citizens. That this school has the gall to require its students to use the commie infested Macs is reason enough for news sites to sound the alarm for the good of the nation.

    After all, only Microsoft deserves to be a requirement, tight?

  • by BitterOak (537666) on Friday June 11, 2010 @06:33PM (#32543382)

    FTFA:

    "Parents can pay for the computers upfront or lease them from the district, with the option to buy after three years. The payments should work out to about $20 to $25 per month, Hayes said. The cost also includes free tech support.

    "We realize for some families that will be a stretch," he said. In those cases, the district will provide financial assistance.

    Students who don't participate will be able to borrow a school-provided laptop during the day, but they won't be able to take it home, Hayes said."

    ---

    IMO, $20-25/mo is a fair plan. That should be well within the finances of most families, and as they noted, they will provide financial assistance.

    That said, using a unified platform is not a bad idea, but why make students buy heavily marked up hardware? Why not Netbooks with Linux?

    Why is a unified platform necessary at all? My objection to this whole plan is that they require MacBooks. Yes, they may be offering them to families at a reasonable price, but what about parents who just purchased their kid a Windows or Linux laptop? All three platforms run office suites with enough compatibility that students can do essays, spreadsheets with charts, and PowerPoint-like presentations. And all three support all the major programming languages, so that students can learn comp sci, which should probably be taught using a platform neutral language like Java or Ruby anyway. And most learning management systems are web based and should be accessible to Windows, Linux, or MacOS. So my question is: why the need to standardize on any one platform at all? Why should kids have to stay after school to finish an assignment because their parents don't want or can't afford to buy a Mac, when Word for Windows, or OpenOffice for Linux will do just as well for 99% of the work? If I were a parent, I'd be complaining very loudly about this.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday June 11, 2010 @07:08PM (#32543840)

    Having worked with school districts let me tell you there is some supreme incompetence that goes on there. Also there's the simply Mac fanboy cognitive dissonance at work. What probably happened:

    Superintendent gets a shiny new Macbook because it is cool looking and stylish. It works great for him/her because all they do is surf the web, read e-mail, simple stuff. A new, powerful machine without crap will do that blazingly fast and easy. Goes double because he has a nice new cable modem connection that is just super fast (or in reality more like 10mbit).

    At work, however, they have old PCs running even older software to handle student records, grades, etc. These have problems, as old computers are wont to do, in particular when running software designed for even older architectures. Also, as with most schools, they have a slow network connection. The whole school has a connection maybe as fast as the superintendent's home connection, so simple tasks like web browsing feel slow.

    Rather than looking at the situation logically, the superintendent believes everything is because of his shiny new Mac. Clearly that Mac is the reason everything is so good. Thus the solution is for everyone to have one! Things would be so much better. Nothing would ever break, because his never has. There'd be no problems, because he hasn't had any.

    That's my bet. Nobody bought him/her off, it was just a case of someone who knows fuck-all about enterprise computing. They figure since their sample size of one is perfect, that will hold true for all the rest.

  • by chentiangemalc (1710624) on Friday June 11, 2010 @07:26PM (#32544050) Homepage
    um yeah - real smart prepare the kids for the "REAL WORLD" by using a platform that is used in less than 1% of corporate environments. another completely out of touch with technology school....living in their own little world at least with the student who already has a dell...well don't worry, you should be able to get MacOS run on it fine if you're forced to use it
  • by oatworm (969674) on Friday June 11, 2010 @07:36PM (#32544156) Homepage
    No, Windows XP and IE6-only internal web applications prepares them for the corporate world. Let's not subject our children to such a fate.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 11, 2010 @08:29PM (#32544770)

    No it doesn't. By the time kids graduate from college Windows 7 won't even exist in the corporate world. Give me a break. No. Kids should be using something different at home than they use in school. If they use a Mac in school they should be using a PC at home. Actually. They shouldn't really be teaching non-free software period. They should be teaching concepts. Although that is another matter.

  • Re:My two cents (Score:3, Insightful)

    by omglolbah (731566) on Friday June 11, 2010 @09:14PM (#32545162)

    "You may bring any calculator you like to calculator-allowed tests, provided it does not dim the lights when powered on."

    Nice policy in my eyes.

    A calculator and to a greater degree now a laptop is just a tool. I'd rather use a spade than a teaspoon for a tool when digging a hole... And most of what you use a laptop for in class from my experience (last year of high school all those years ago I had an early pentium battleship of a laptop) is a big funky calculator.

    Or taking notes... writing on paper is all good and well in classes that require a lot of drawing like a physics class, but when you're taking notes from an overhead projector for 4-5 hours a week in class due to an asshat teacher saying "the only way to learn is to write it" you really really want a text editor of some kind ;)

  • And if they're smart, they'll do their homework at home, put it on a flash drive (or email it to themself), and stick it on the school computer the next morning.

    Teaching kids how and when to circumvent stupidity really is a skill we probably could do with a bit more of. Internet filtering in school, locking down school-issued laptops, and things like that are great ways to teach how to tinker with something and circumvent an artificial barrier. I'm not sure that's the intended result, but in my experience, it teaches it very effectively nonetheless.

  • by twidarkling (1537077) on Friday June 11, 2010 @10:07PM (#32545586)

    There were techies bitching about buttons being moved in Ubuntu, and you expect normal people to go from OS X after three years of likely exclusive use to Windows? People react poorly to change, and Mac users least of all due to the sticky nature of Apple's product line. You're right, they ARE going to have some big problems later when they need to use a computer at work, and it requires something more than drag-n-drop to work.

  • Re:My two cents (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wisnoskij (1206448) on Friday June 11, 2010 @10:10PM (#32545596) Homepage

    It is a different lvl of work.

    When someone finds the area of a triangle, maybe he does not do the actual multiplication and division but he must understand the process.
    at university we do many complicated calculations, that does not mean we actually do any math by hand.
    If we did we would 99.9% of the time doing this and get nothing accomplished.

    There are no calculators that take a bunch of numbers and somehow understand that they refer to some specific question and return a result.

    I would bet that whatever work you do is made easier by some technology that could be said to be doing all your job for you.
    Well lets not even use work as an example, right now I suppose I am arguing with a computer, since you did not write that comment and you did not transfer that it to my screen, a computer did. all you did was mindlessly type keys without understanding.

    I dont understand why someone so hateful towards technology is even on Slashdot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 11, 2010 @10:41PM (#32545808)

    Macs are simple to use. They are simple to run. And at the end of the day, all they can do is simple tasks.
    When you need to do something more advanced, nothing has frustrated me more out of the trio of OS, as much as macs do.

    And it is not the job of education to show possibilities. Its their job to teach them the skills and theories behind whatever it is they are teaching.

    If they are in an IT class, teaching them about windows, macs, and linux is essential to a good grounding to work apon. If your teaching them anything else, windows is going to be the far superior OS, as its far more common in the REAL WORLD.

    Forcing them on to a less suitable OS to avoid a monopoly is retarded because

    a. You've swapped from a MS monopoly to an Apple monopoly (and at least MS allow you to run what you like, how you like, on their OS!).
    b. If you really wanted to avoid a monopoly, you'd use Linux

    At the end of the day, your teaching them skills, not ideals. To screw over your students education to serve a political point is to betray the trust the students have placed in you to see that their interests are served, not the establishments.

  • Actually, in this type of situation, going with Windows would be better. If students already have Mac laptops, they could run Windows using bootcamp on them, and they'd only have to buy a copy of Windows, not a whole new laptop. By going with Mac laptops it forces parents of students who already have a Windows laptop to either need a loaner, or buy a second laptop.

    Actually requiring any specific platform is stupid. The best idea is to identify the tasks to be performed then allow the people to make their own choice as to how to perform the task. And MS Word or Office isn't the task, word processing, presentations, spread sheets, and databases are the requirements. Allow people to use whatever tool will do the job.

    Falcon

  • Re:WTF (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 12, 2010 @02:33AM (#32547206)

    It always felt like a dumbed-down interface to me...

    I was thinking the same thing the other day when I went to search for a file and, instead of a text entry box, I was presented with an animated puppy.

  • by Silvrmane (773720) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @02:48AM (#32547280) Homepage
    Seriously, guys, take a deep breath

    OK, I've been maintaining Macs in business environments since the Mac II. First for a printer (first in the province to use a Linotype imagesetter with PostScript RIP) and now for an advertising agency. I also have to do a little Windows maintenance as well (accounting department uses PCs, and there are some PCs in the production department to check websites out on Internet Exploder). So I have a fairly good idea of why this school board made this decision. Their administration and software costs will go WAY down. I'll explain.

    Macs hardly need any administration at all - some quick setup for printers, and some basic filesharing rules, and you are good to go. You do not need to worry about self-propagating viruses. You don't need to worry AS MUCH about the kids installing strange and harmful software off the internet. You don't generally need to worry too much about the kids running games when they are meant to be doing work on the things. The Macs come with a very good suite of basic software to do document creation (Pages), presentations (Keynote), spreadsheet work (Numbers), movie editing (iMovie), disc burning (built into the Finder). There are a number of very high quality educational products for the Mac. And everything works very well with each other. I imagine that for most of the tasks they are going to have the kids doing with their Macbooks, there will be zero software to purchase.

    From an educational standpoint, Macs have a full BASH terminal, and comes with a full software development package, so there's teaching all that nifty UNIX stuff that is actually useful in the "real world."

    More importantly than all that, Macs need very little on-going maintenance. There's very little that a combo of Onyx (free), and Disc Warrior (not free, but not expensive) cannot cure on a Mac. If you set the kids up with non-administrative user-accounts, they cannot destroy the application software or the operating system. No need to ghost the OS and apps, and re-image the computers at the end of every day like I know a lot of school computer labs do with Windows machines. I imagine that a school will only need 1 "computer guy" around, and he will not be busy full-time. Macs are a breeze to maintain.I think the last Mac virus I had to deal with was back in the OS 8 days.

    I live and work in the "real world" and we use Macs every day. Dunno what kind of world you all work in, but I bet your fonts are awful and kerned funny. :)
  • by J.J. Dane (1562629) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @02:52AM (#32547296)

    They're probably worried it'll be easier for the students to turn off the webcam on a windows pc

  • by easterberry (1826250) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @03:09AM (#32547384)
    If there's nothing they can't do on a normal computer then why can't the girl with the Dell use that? Clearly, for them to be able to justify this, there's some software or information that will only be available to these computers/macbooks in general.
  • by Tom (822) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @03:56AM (#32547598) Homepage Journal

    Windows may have the majority of the market, but it is good. If all of the papers that need to be written have the same functionality as the MS Office series, and operate in the same file formats,

    So you want to spend tax dollars to deepen the lock-in? You can't be for real.

    Apple uses its OS to create a monopoly on the culture of its users, regulating how and where they get their programs (at least for the iPhone, iPad, and iPods).

    You may have noticed this discussion is not about iPhone, iPad nor iPods. So your argument is what, exactly?

    As for functionality per dollar? Windows is the best value for the dollar.

    Impossible. By pure math, if a competing product is available for free (Linux, *BSD, etc.) then you can not beat it in any "per dollar" comparison.

    Sadly, your wonderful little reality is very impractical, the compatibility is just not there.

    You are funny. My wonderful little reality is both wonderful and very real. And gaming is the only use I have left for windos. If Steam continues to add good games, not much longer.

  • by The Hatchet (1766306) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @05:01AM (#32547918)

    So you want to spend tax dollars to deepen the lock-in? You can't be for real.

    No, but I also don't want to be subsidizing shit, especially when it comes to something as important as our children's education. Right now, Windows is the best tool to accomplish that.

    You may have noticed this discussion is not about iPhone, iPad nor iPods. So your argument is what, exactly?

    What do you mean what is my argument? Would you have purchased exports and endorsed the Nazi party in Germany just because they made good quality, fast moving tanks? Would you stand by evil, because you love all of their products, but most specifically their smallest areas of sales? Not if you had half a brain. If you align perfectly with republicans, but a democrat has a cool pin that you like, do you switch parties? Not if you have a grain of sense. A company whose primary goal is to ilk profit by selling products with built in evil (drm, mandatory use of their stores and nobody else's for apps, oh, and now exclusive advertising agreements, not to mention pushing their morals onto the products users by censoring what the devices can view/do). Are you really going to support a company that uses censorship with taxpayer dollars? and you think me mad.

    Impossible. By pure math, if a competing product is available for free (Linux, *BSD, etc.) then you can not beat it in any "per dollar" comparison.

    ... where can I get one of these free laptops? I don't hate free software, but I think it is important we have them get what is most useful to them. I did not, ever, say linux was cheaper somehow than windows. I just compared their relative usefulness. My comparison was Apple to Win7. In terms of this, Apple will never even come close to value per dollar price. Not even remotely close, and NOTHING any current Apple product can do even comes close to filling in the terrible lack of utility. The Apple OS is ugly, it can not be significantly altered for user enjoyment, and is much harder to learn than windows. I learned how to use a windows computer in about 5 minutes, and I can use thousands of alternate set up types and arrangements for my specific utility. After spending hours playing with Macs, I find thier customization sucks, many important features are difficult to access or find, and the user dynamics will never compare to the quickness of the win7 feel. I can be using several dozen large programs at once, switching between them and moving files in a fraction of a second, with insane productivity levels. Even word processing while looking at data on a web page is difficult and time consumer (as in a second or two) It is incredibly frustrating, even with practice, and it is a pain in the ass. In terms of this, any computer with any Apple OS on it is worth its weight in shit compared to one with win7. Even on their popular handheld devices, the OS may be great for its use, but as long as it is crippled by Apples intense control over everything that hits your screen is downright damning to its value.

    You are funny. My wonderful little reality is both wonderful and very real. And gaming is the only use I have left for windos. If Steam continues to add good games, not much longer.

    I use my windows computer for everything from web browing, simulation programming and design, virtual prototyping, mathematical modeling, word processing, gaming, communication, finding my way around the countries roads, learning, and anything else I want to do with it. I have yet to find anything that I can't do on my computer that a Mac can, but many things that are much more difficult and crappy on an apple product. Yes, I can think of many improvements that could be made, but Apple has a hell of a long way to go to catch up to the productivity and functionality of windows.

  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @11:11AM (#32549698)

    If someone already has a perfectly good laptop why should they be forced by the school at get another one (buy or rent) simply because it's not a mac?

    This is 100% Mac zealotry.

    What if a student doesn't WANT to use a mac? Does it somehow interrupt the steve jobs circle jerk that they won't be allowed to attend the school? This is pathetic.

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