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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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  • iNelson (Score:5, Funny)

    by conner_bw (120497) * on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:32PM (#32541294) Homepage Journal

    ...so the poor kids will have iPads?

    iHa!

  • by raddan (519638) * on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:33PM (#32541304)

    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.

    Which essentially means that the program is voluntary. The school is hoping to be able to save money by not having to provide computer labs.

  • 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 SkankinMonkey (528381) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:38PM (#32541402)
      I would assume that the reason you are so underprivileged is because you failed to learn how to read in school. The article clearly states that the children will be provided with laptops during the school day if they can't buy one. They just can't bring it home since it is school property.
      • 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.
        • by SkankinMonkey (528381) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:48PM (#32541590)
          I know it's really hard to click a link, so I'll provide the relevant part for you:
          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.
          • 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 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.

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

      by 0racle (667029) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:46PM (#32541566)
      I remember when you couldn't use a calculator until you understood what you were doing on paper. Even then, show your work questions sort of kept it so that you needed to know what you were doing.

      I suppose with QuickTime X ability to record the screen they can show their work, if you can call mindlessly punching keys work.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SamSim (630795)
        Besides which, a calculator is useless for real mathematics work.
    • Re:My two cents (Score:5, Insightful)

      by techstar25 (556988) <techstar25NO@SPAMcfl.rr.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.

      • by eln (21727) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:56PM (#32541800) Homepage
        Hitler didn't have a laptop in school either, and look how he turned out. Clearly these laptops are necessary.
      • by samkass (174571) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:56PM (#32541802) Homepage Journal

        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.

        ...and near as I can tell, not one of them could code worth a crap! :)

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

        by paeanblack (191171) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:11PM (#32542174)

        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.

        Oddly enough...

        Einstein dropped out of Luitpold Gymnasium (=high school)
        Franklin dropped out of Boston Latin high school
        Edison went to school for a grand total of three months
        Tesla dropped out of Graz University
        Gates dropped out of Harvard

        Hawking was the only one to stay the course...and yes, he did get a laptop.

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

          by blind biker (1066130) on Friday June 11, 2010 @08:38PM (#32544838) Journal

          Einstein finished secondary school in Aarau (Switzerland), and then graduated from the Polytechnic in Zurich, and even finished his doctoral studies. So he very much did stay the course. It's just like a student changing one high school for another.

          Einstein is definitely not one of those "succesful dropouts". Please stop spreading misinformation.

    • 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).

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

      by onionman (975962) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:09PM (#32542126)

      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.

      It's amusing isn't it! Yet another example of technology being used to hide inadequate education. The real solution to most teaching problems is to hire good teachers, pay them enough to make them want to keep the job, and keep the class sizes small enough so that the teachers can actually interact with all of the students.

      I'm a math prof, and I've found that the best way to present complicated material is a chalk board. Sometimes I get all crazy and use advanced multi-media like "colored chalk".

      Really, though. Why do they need Macbooks? If they are teaching them computer science, then part of the learning is figuring out how to handle your own computer (whatever OS it might be). If they want them to typeset their term papers then they should just say that, not require a specific proprietary product. Part of being a savy computer user is developing enough skill with manuals and search engines to figure out how to solve $common_problem on $your_platform.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lars512 (957723)

      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?

      I went to a privileged school, and when I went to high school years ago they brought out their first laptop policy. In many ways, the laptops were "wasted" for official classes, and it was quickly learned that 95% of classes didn't need or use the laptop. For the other 5%, it was really very useful. The side effect of everyone having laptops was a lot of tinkering by all the students, and that had real benefit too.

      Laptop schemes are nothing new. There are two questions in this case: why standardise on MacBo

  • Wrong To The Root (Score:5, Interesting)

    by b4upoo (166390) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:37PM (#32541384)

    Public schools should never require parents to pay for expensive items or programs. This is dead wrong. Many parents no longer have a job nor savings. How will their children get by in school? Further why in the sam hell would anyone push Macs on the kids? There are alternatives such as Linux that could save these families a fortune on PCs.

  • Linux Netbooks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZeroSerenity (923363) <gormac05 @ y a h o o.com> 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 Jorkapp (684095) <jorkapp@hotma i l . com> on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:40PM (#32541450)

    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?

    • 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.

    • 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 a

    • 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?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BitterOak (537666)

      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

  • by bieber (998013) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:42PM (#32541496)
    The first three years I was in high school, the school had this ridiculous program going on where they issued every student an iBook. Teachers tried to make us use them, but seriously, how useful is a laptop in high school math? Admittedly, it was nice for language and social studies classes to have something to type/browse Wikipedia on, but the hassle of carrying them around, dealing with the constant breakage, and etc. far outweighed the benefits to the students. And when you look at the $2 mil that the school district spent on the program, the whole thing just seemed like a really bad joke.
  • 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.

  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:47PM (#32541580) Homepage Journal
    ... I would say there is some wisdom is chosing apple for that purpose. If they instead opted for a Windows laptop it would be nearly impossible to standardize. Even if they said "everyone go buy a Dell model ABC123" you wouldn't get very good consistency, because inevitably some parents would try to substitute something else (and yet others would substitute by accident). On top of that you do have the problem with the Windows (in)security mentality that leads to crashing systems all over the place.

    So if the purpose really is for the kids to learn subject material that doesn't include how to fix the computer, then the apple probably isn't a bad choice after all.
  • 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 Anon-Admin (443764) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:51PM (#32541656) Homepage Journal

    My daughters school added the requirement that she have a laptop for school. The school here said that it must run Windows and have Microsoft Office on it.

    I gave her a new Toshiba with Fedora Core and open office. She is happy with it, then I get a note from the school that It must be Windows because they had software to install that required windows. I told then that if they would let me know what the software does I would be more than happy to find a similar package for Linux or to set it up in a restricted virtual environment.

    Never hear another thing from them. IMHO if the school wants to require an OS or Specific software packages then they need to pony up the money for the laptop and set it up the way they want it.

    • 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.

  • Absolutely SURREAL (Score:5, Interesting)

    by repetty (260322) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:51PM (#32541658) Homepage

    As a Mac user of 23 years, I've gotta say that this headline is abso-fvcking-lutely surreal.

    It seemed like Mac users pissed and moaned for decades about being forced to abandon their platform as schools moved toward cheap PC running Windows 3.1 et al.

    Is today backwards day?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by swordgeek (112599)

      What comes around goes around. Before Apple was the 'small elite' of computers, it was the 900-lb gorilla against the world of Commodore, Atari, and the rest.

      The important take-home lesson here is that regardless of the platform, monocultures don't last. Unfortunately, the lesson seems to be lost on the decision-makers. (over and over and over and over...)

  • Please.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Galestar (1473827) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:52PM (#32541674)
    Direct your hate mail this way: jim.hayes@beverlyschools.org
  • 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 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 alizard (107678) <alizard@@@ecis...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.
    • 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 Loopy (41728) on Friday June 11, 2010 @06:04PM (#32543020) Journal

    School requires macs (personal or loaned, wtfever). Kids do schoolwork on macs at school. Rich kids learn to have things handed to them. Normal kids learn to work to buy themselves a mac, or they learn to do things on the home PC and how to use compatibility tools and/or how to convert docs from one type to another for use across both macs and PCs. Either way, lots of people will learn how important a worth ethic is and how important it is to understand the PC world in general as well as knowing how to launch facebook on your particular device.

    Win/Win.

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Friday June 11, 2010 @06:09PM (#32543098) Homepage Journal

    schools is where they begin to indoctrinate the young people to step the line, not to do anything that is even remotely different.

    How is it at all sensible for a school to require everybody to buy a laptop, especially a laptop with a non-Free operating system?

    this is insane, if a laptop is really required it must be a laptop with an operating system that is Free to look at the code and probably free to own.

  • by Bungleman (955072) on Friday June 11, 2010 @06:14PM (#32543146)
    Yeah, my wife taught at a high school that bought every student and teacher a Macbook Pro. Yes, Pro. At the cost of several million dollars to the school district, no less... oh, but that wasn't the REAL cost. The REAL cost was that the teachers could no longer buy books to teach with. They were supposed to use only the laptops. Oh, and at the end of the year, the school laid off 50 teachers.

    They closed down one school in the district entirely, electing instead to privatize it and lay off all of the teachers to "save some money." The private company that came in was supposed to "specialize in teaching underperforming students using technology." Good luck with that... Remind me again when technology became better than books and teacher interaction for students.

    Then again, I guess I can't expect much, given my state's history in education. (Hint: We're the dumbest, poorest state in the US.)

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