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Media (Apple) Businesses Government Media Apple Politics

An iPod For Every Kid In Michigan 333

mikesd81 writes "Over at C|Net there is an article about Michigan spending $38 million to distribute an iPod to every kid, for learning purposes. From the article: 'On Thursday, House Democrats delivered a spending bill that includes the idea of putting $38 million worth of public funds toward outfitting every student with a digital music player.' The plan included measures to tax soda and satellite TV services to pay for it, among other things, to raise funds. If you recall, Duke University tried something like this with mixed results. How financially strained will Michigan residents feel about paying higher taxes to buy someone else's kid an iPod?"
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An iPod For Every Kid In Michigan

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  • Some points (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lurker McLurker ( 730170 ) <.allthecoolnames ... .at.> on Saturday April 07, 2007 @06:27AM (#18644855)
    • First of all, the taxes aren't just to pay for the music players, they are for a number of measures.
    • Secondly, the story doesn't specifiy it'll be ipods, just a digital audio player. Given the more reasonably-priced audio players around, they'd be idiots to pick Apple's trendy but pricey players.
    • I think digital audio players could be very useful in an educational context, but current copyright law will probably render them useless. You need to be able to put useful content on these devices. This could end up being very expensive.
    • The person who wrote the cnet story is called Erica Ogg.
  • by canUbeleiveIT ( 787307 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @08:13AM (#18645273)

    I have to agree with the idea of investing money in teachers instead of the students though.

    I am so tired of hearing about how underpaid teachers are. It's like a mantra that people just repeat and repeat without giving a whole lot of thought to. While it holds true for private schools, public school teachers have it pretty good.

    Teachers' salaries in Michigan are among the highest in the nation at an average $54,474/year. And that's with an average education just slightly higher than a B.A.. In my area the state university's Teacher's College has the lowest average SAT & GPA of all of the programs in the school.

    In addition, they only work 9 months out of the year and have every weekend, holiday and summer off. If a teacher chooses to work the entire year (teaching summer school), like most of us, he/she would make $72K. Add the excellent bennies that most public school employees have and I have a hard time shedding too many tears for them.

  • by rbannon ( 512814 ) <> on Saturday April 07, 2007 @08:39AM (#18645401) Homepage
    I work in a state funded school where 65% (contact hours) of the teaching is done by very low paid part-timers. To give you an idea of how low paid, a typical course is $1,500 (maximum $2,250) for a four month semester. These teachers are not given any benefits and can be fired at any time. Salaries at my school are only reported for full-timers, so wages may seem high. Yes, I know teachers who are making more than $100,000! Yikes, that hurts, especially when my take home pay after 20 years is less than $400/week (I'm tenured and full time). I am also highly qualified, with an MS (engineering) from an Ivy League school.

    So please stop looking at what your government wants to tell you about teacher wages --- they're only reporting full-timers!

  • Misguided (Score:4, Informative)

    by mattr ( 78516 ) <> on Saturday April 07, 2007 @08:48AM (#18645457) Homepage Journal
    Yes this is moronic. They should spend the money on teachers and texts.

    On the other hand, even supposing they have plenty of money they still made a bad choice.

    Based on my experience with a new video iPod I received as a present:

    • Very hard to use for text. Bad navigational control, no paging, tiny font, must split in tiny chunks with max of IIRC 8MB total, can't display HTML. Even if they hacked Mac OSX into them, hardware wise it is a very bad choice for education.
    • Not robust. Synching while using as hd, often get persistent errors that suggest need to reformat.
    • For target age group, forcing kids to listen to lectures in class probably more effective than expecting them to synch and listen themselves. Though perhaps a library of video interviews by professionals/experts could be very cool! Aim at adults and get them to buy the hardware themselves! Spend the money on content/software (esp. free software programming) and not on hardware, doh!
    • There is a very effective way to use tech in language, and I've been there. Middlebury's summer intensive language program had fabulous IIRC Tandenberg tape recorders you use in a tiny room of your own, with headset/mic and volume controls so you can superimpose your voice on that of the language drill prof on tape. By pressing revers very often you can (I did successfully) build a very good accent. Also Cornell University's Dept. of Modern Languages had similar tape recorders. So you want something with robust hardware buttons like that. maybe a linear slide is okay but the circular one on the video ipod is extremely difficult to use to back up to a place you want to be a few seconds ago, due to both physical configuration and gooiness. Having it digital instead of tape makes no difference with this screen size, though with larger screen you could show frames ever 1 sec into the past and click on one for example. Also power drainage a problem. Also there are cheaper, very tiny mp3 players that work fine with no moving parts or scratch-sensitive coating either.
    • If they went for a cheap ipod shuffle that is just totally dumb. just shuffle again if you hit a lecture.
  • Re:Umm.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by linkedlinked ( 1001508 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @10:23AM (#18645985)
    HAH! Why would they spend money on text books?
    At my (michigan) high school, we couldn't afford *PAPER* to stock the classrooms. If kids needed paper or a pencil at any time during the day, we were told with straight faces that we should go out in the hall and beg from friends.
    Meanwhile, across the road, we approved a multi-million dollar rennovation to our football stadium (yes, "stadium") which was already much nicer than most of the ones in the area; two of the best-liked teachers in the school (who were also the newest) got fired to help fund that. And we had a $300,000 camera surveillance system which, when four guys broke into my friends car and lit it on fire, did NO good identifying them (and most of the cameras were in the parking lot, for that matter). Between 6th grade and 12th grade, the district-wide price of a school lunch hiked from $1.75 to over $3.00, and I'm confident that the volume of the lunch went down over that period.

    I graduated last spring.

    I'm not at all surprised to hear that we're giving kids iPods instead of text books.
  • by eunos94 ( 254614 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @10:54AM (#18646173)

    Having several public school teachers in my family and having taught myself for awhile, I can tell you first hand, your analysis of their economic situation is WAY off base. While teachers receive a decent salary, for many it is just that, a salary. They don't get paid for the countless hours they spend outside of school getting their work done.

    You can't plan and organize a class during the time your teaching, you have to do it at home. And holidays? Please. Most of those days are spent fulfilling silly requirements for the state for continuing education seminars. Or grading 150 essays. Or going to the store to buy the materials your school district is too poor to pay for. Or buy supplies for kids whose parents don't have jobs and there's no support network to buy the kids backpacks or pencils. Never mind the afterschool meetings, the evenings calls with parents, the weekends spent in the school preparing for the next week...the list goes on.

    Nevermind the fact that Michigan's public school teachers are probably some of the highest paid because of basically Oakland County. IIRC, Oakland county is in the top 5 richest counties in the country. There's a ton of money being tossed around there and honestly, it has some of the best schools in the state. Strangely, money seems to be buying a better education.

    No one's asking public school teachers to be remunerated like brain surgeons, but at least create some incentives to excel at what you do. Seems like the harder you work in public schools, the more likely you are to get the jobs that there's just no pay for.

  • by feepness ( 543479 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @12:07PM (#18646863) Homepage
    (costing 3cents/gal. for 3 years for a total of an additional 9/gal)

    If 3 cents/gal for three years is 9 cents/gal, yes, Michigan is in trouble.
  • by Acer500 ( 846698 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @09:52PM (#18651873) Journal

    (costing 3cents/gal. for 3 years for a total of an additional 9/gal)

    If 3 cents/gal for three years is 9 cents/gal, yes, Michigan is in trouble.
    I suspect he didn't phrase it correctly. Lemme Google for it... the Times Herald says that

    Bipartisan legislation, introduced Tuesday by Rep. Hoon-Yung Hopgood, D-Taylor, and House Minority Leader Craig DeRoche, R-Novi, would raise the gas tax 9 cents in three years - topping out at 28 cents per gallon by 2010.
    So it seems he was correct. I guess they will be increasing it by 3 cents every year.

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