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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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  • really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sam.thorogood ( 979334 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @06:12AM (#18644787)
    Please allow me to contribute the obligatory "yes, because blackboards and chalk have clearly failed us" response.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I realize you're being facetious, but the obligatory response is bullshit. I learned quite well with old-fashioned books and blackboards and managed to get a degree in Physics years before iPods were ever invented. Millions of people have done just as well. It's not lack of iPods that are preventing kids from learning, it's something else (parents, poor teachers, lack of funding, shitty educational standards, take your pick).
  • Umm.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 07, 2007 @06:15AM (#18644801)
    Why not spend the money on text books or library books or classrooms or teachers? Or all four?
    • by ari wins ( 1016630 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @07:48AM (#18645161)
      Living in Michigan, I can tell you I was shocked to read this. We're currently facing a multi-hundred million budget deficeit (400+ iirc), and this actually stayed in? They're closing schools all over the state, our single-business tax has expired, so they're trying to get another gas tax added on (costing 3cents/gal. for 3 years for a total of an additional 9/gal), and Granholm has been trying to get an "entertainment" tax in place, meaning taxes on movies, video games, etc. etc. Our "sin" tax seemingly goes up yearly, meaning when I moved back up here from TN. I went from paying under $3/pack of smokes to over $5. Granted, that's not as high as some metropolitan areas, but the cost of living is no where NEAR those places, therefore neither are the wages.

      Frankly, I'm saddened by it. We used to have some of the best roads in the nation, and now I can't drive to work without wondering when my suspension is going to fail. It's not even a matter of avoiding the potholes, you actually have to avoid entire roads. Now you're telling me every little bastard in school is going to get an ipod? What about my nephew, who attends a private charter school? We pay property taxes, even though he doesn't attend public schools, and now you're going to tell me I have to foot the bill for this?

      I only wish Granholm hadn't been the lesser of two evils this prior election. On the bright side, however, she's done a great job turning the strengths of our states into our weaknesses, while also driving businesses (Lifesavers, Johnson Controls, numerous others) out of the area. What's next?
      • Let me see if I understand Michigan.

        Local-only property taxes.
        State-only sales taxes.
        Local and state income taxes.

        I don't live in Michigan, so I don't know if this would work, but here is my idea.

        Implementing local sales taxes might create problems since the system is not set up to deal with that. However, what they can do is, if not already, create additional state sales tax rates.

        Certain businesses would have a higher sales tax rate depending on the type of business.

        Perhaps superstores (like Wal-Mart) be
        • by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @11:53AM (#18646727) Homepage

          I don't live in Michigan, so I don't know if this would work, but here is my idea.

          Implementing local sales taxes might create problems since the system is not set up to deal with that. However, what they can do is, if not already, create additional state sales tax rates.

          Certain businesses would have a higher sales tax rate depending on the type of business.

          Why? What possible justification is there for implementing a byzantine variable sales tax based on the type of business?

          Perhaps superstores (like Wal-Mart) be subject to an addition 1 cent/dollar sales tax. Prices are low enough already, so this wouldn't be a big deal.
          Ah, they old misguided "they can afford it" reasoning. People don't always shop at Wal-Mart because they're cheapskates. Many people shop there because they have very little money. So essentially what you're proposing is a 1% tax on being poor. Way to go.

          Restaurants would be subject to an addition 0.5 cent/dollar sales tax.
          Because only rich folks eat at restaurants. Especially fast food joints.

          Restaurant deliveries would be subject to an addition 0.7 cent/dollar sales tax (on top of the above).
          Because only rich folks have pizzas delivered. Seriously, are you trying to drive every little chinese food and pizza shop out of business, leaving only Dominoes?

          "Etc.", in other words "keep adding random taxes onto random businesses until we've either made up the deficit, or driven every last small business out of the state." You should run for state legislature. You'd fit right in.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Your comment is quite obnoxious.

        What about my nephew, who attends a private charter school? We pay property taxes, even though he doesn't attend public schools, and now you're going to tell me I have to foot the bill for this?

        Sorry, buddy, but I don't have kids and I happily pay my property taxes. Even if I never plan on burdening the public school system, the products of these schools will be my caretakers when I'm elderly and my coworkers in my near future. It's to everyone's interest to ensure the success of all children in the United States. If you think otherwise, I kindly ask you to leave my country. Your self-centered outlook is killing America. As much as you'd like to think, you

      • Somewhat offtopic, but I found this interesting.

        I went from paying under $3/pack of smokes to over $5
        In Canada, small packs of smokes cost something like CAD $15 because of taxes. I don't smoke, so I don't know the exact price. Hell, I couldn't afford it even if I wanted to.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by feepness ( 543479 )
        (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.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Acer500 ( 846698 )

          (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.

    • Re:Umm.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hey! ( 33014 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @08:50AM (#18645469) Homepage Journal
      Well, the idea is that they'll be used kind of like text books, I guess.

      WRT to teachers, of course that's the best and surest way to improve education. Lower class size. If class size wasn't important than the elite in this country wouldn't be sending their kids to prep schools where classes are four or five students sitting around a table with a teacher.

      While increasing the number of qualified teaches is almost a surefire way of improving education, it's also the most expensive. Since it's the most expensive thing you deal with, often money is well spent just to improve the effectiveness of our use of teacher time. This means hiring aides to handle non-teaching chores, specialists in math and reading and so forth.

      My attitude toward something like this is like my attitude towards an Iraq troop surge: the idea itself is neither nor good nor bad, it depends on whether you have a credible plan to use them. I'm not saying that the iPod idea is a good one, but it is not necessarily bad. Just because iPods are a lot of fun doesn't mean they can't be used as serious educational tools. If money is tight, then creative ideas for marginal improvements are actually more worth looking at. If we were swimming in dough, the answer to the best use of our dough would be simple: reduce class sizes.

      I have a feeling that the idea will go down in flames, because the public instinct is exactly the opposite. When we're flush, we might consider something like this. When money is tight, we obsess about things we can't afford.
      • There's other advantages to those prep schools than class sizes. They don't have to accept all kids, meaning they can get rid of all but the best and brightest. They're also privately funded, so they can pay their teachers better and therefore get the better teachers.

        Imagine you were a teacher fresh out of school with a good GPA, and had the following choice: Work in a public school system where you have 35+ kids in a class, including kids with behavioral problems, and get paid $25,000 per year or work in

    • Teacher wages aren't that big of a problem here. Michigan has been in the top ten of states ranked based on wages for a long time, and almost the top based on benefits. I know several teachers in my private life too, and they aren't hurting by any stretch of the imagination. The biggest complaint is really bone-headed educational policies and bone-headed administration.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      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
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Ever seen Mr Holland's Opus?

        Some choice quotes:

        • "I care about these kids just as much as you do. And if I'm forced to choose between Mozart and reading and writing and long division, I choose long division." "Well, I guess you can cut the arts as much as you want, Gene. Sooner or later, these kids aren't going to have anything to read or write about."
        • [on the football coach lamenting to the just-sacked music teacher that he'd be the next to go] "The day they cut the football budget in this state, that will
    • > Why not spend the money on text books or library books or classrooms or teachers? Or all four?

      Well if ya are committed to pissing away $30 mil when you already have a deficit I guess what you say makes sense.

      And I want to know how Apple manages to get their product specced in legilation, avoiding bidding them out. Of course Apple, being by far the most expensive vendor, would never win the contract and some no name digital player wouldn't have the buzz for the bill's backers. This stinks of corruptio
  • by ShadowFalls ( 991965 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @06:16AM (#18644805)
    It is hard to see how they could keep these iPods from being used for purposes other than educational. Who pays for stolen ones or broken ones? Some parents can't afford one to give to their kids on their own, to replace one would be atrocious. In the end, this is just more politicians wasting time on things that do not really matter instead of focusing on the things that do.
    • You mean politicians would waste millions of dollars on pointless, useless, expensive "solutions" that would only worsen the problem, all in the name of being re-elected?

      Honestly, that's too crazy and unheard of.
  • by forkazoo ( 138186 ) <> on Saturday April 07, 2007 @06:22AM (#18644825) Homepage
    Or, at least, it is a horrible idea unless I can manage to be declared eligible.

    Seriously, how about spending the millions of dollars on teachers? I just can't see any real requirement for a DAP for educational purposes. Want the students to be able to listen to lectures as home? Put MP3's on the school website and let students listen to them at the computer or put them on their own DAP. Need students to be able to listen to audio on their own while in class? 30 million dollars buys a lot of blank CD-R's, and CD players are a hell of a lot less expensive than iPods.

    30 million dollars also buys a hell of a lot of teacher bonuses. IMNSHO, Investing in teachers will have more of a benefit than whatever hair brained scheme they have cooked up for the iPods.

    • by PhoenixAtlantios ( 991132 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @06:28AM (#18644863)
      It's sad that I managed to decipher IMNSHO without pausing to process it, even though I've never seen it before. The Internet has corrupted me =(

      I have to agree with the idea of investing money in teachers instead of the students though. Plans to give students free iPods and PSPs just seem to be extremely short sighted, as when given the choice between working and playing games/music I'm fairly sure I know which one most teenagers would choose. Giving the teachers laptops, maybe giving them Broadband for free at home, etc. would likely have a more beneficial effect on learning.
      • 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.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by rbannon ( 512814 )
          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 $40
        • 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 eunos94 ( 254614 )
            After looking it up, it appears Oakland County has sagged a little lately. Still in the top 25 or 30, but not top 5 any more. Que sera sera.
          • Big fucking deal. They leave at 3pm, too.

            I'm a software engineer and I'm on salary. No one pays me for pulling all nighters to meet deadlines, plus I get laid off every 2-3 years when my company goes out of business (because I work for start ups).

            So, you could say boo fucking hoo for me, but i choose to do what I do. So do teachers. They have it pretty easy and I don't feel sorry for them. if they don't like their jobs, then they can quit and work somewhere else.

            Their main problem isn't lack of pay - it is
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DavidTC ( 10147 )

          I like how people, when talking about how much teachers work, love to mention the fact they're only working 9 months a year. And then add in 'and holidays'. Um, no, not 'and holidays'. Teachers have to work 190 days or so, which barely fits in 9 months without holidays. School years are actually 10 months, with a month of holidays spaced in there.

          So your calculations about summer school are entirely off. If the 10 month year paid 54 thousand, then summer school would be maybe another 11 thousand, so we're

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Nasarius ( 593729 )

        It's sad that I managed to decipher IMNSHO without pausing to process it, even though I've never seen it before. The Internet has corrupted me =(
        You think that's bad? In the past couple weeks, I instantly deciphered GMAFB and GAS (in the context of guitar/bass players). I think I need a break.
    • Its an interesting idea.

      If some of the free content producers (podcasters etc) got their act together and offered content as well as the paid content producers, it might take off.

      I'm in favour of audio teaching material. My son is accustomed to listening to audio lectures and books whilst playing his games now. It's not perfect, but as an extra to his normal studies it seems to work.

      Unfortunately its likely that this will turn out to be yet another idealised liberal concept that fails in the face of cold ha
    • by suv4x4 ( 956391 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @06:49AM (#18644939)
      This is a horrible idea. Seriously, how about spending the millions of dollars on teachers?

      You could spend the money on teachers, but will this give your kids THE BEST MUSIC PLAYER in the world? I don't think so.
      Everyone could come up with the idea of giving the teachers money. But we have to DARE to be DIFFERENT. This is what distinguishes a follower from a leader. Are you a follower or a leader?

      So, I think it's an INCREDIBLE IDEA. It's the BEST. IDEA. IN THE WORLD. EVER.

      And that's nothing, EVERY KID IN AMERICA should have an iPod. Hell, every kid in the world should have one. Why spend all this money on inventing and producing OLPC, when iPod is here. Does OLPC even have headphones? Does it have a clickwheel? NO, it has a keyboard. Keyboards ARE BORING.

      I know it, you know it, and the children know it: THIS is what really iPod is: raising the IQ of the children!

      - Steve J.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Lumpy ( 12016 )
        Hi Im senator lumpy and I am looking for support for the "give america grilles bill S158774-2". Children all over are forced to go out in public without a grille in their mouth causing ridicule and low self esteem. Giving every child in america a grille will help their education.

        Wont you think of the children? Call your Senators and Represenatives and say you support S158774-2.

        BTW: ignore the minor text at the back that says the bill also invokes martial law in the USA.

        Thank you and God bless america!
      • So... would you say that this idea is Insanely Great?
    • 30 million dollars also buys a hell of a lot of teacher bonuses.

      I think the problem is that the PO's already been signed, so the teachers would have to take their bonuses in iPods.

    • Investing in teachers will have more of a benefit

      I agree, but it's harder to do something like raise salaries or benefits, since that requires perpetual funding. While I understand you said "bonuses", which wouldn't require additional funding, with that scheme you need someone to establish bonus performance criteria, then someone to collect and monitor the performance, and someone to issue the bonuses (after providing reports to all concerned parties), and someone to provide oversight — that's probably enough work for a small-to-medium sized admin

    • Has anybody checked the local economy in Michigan lately? Let's look at the pillars of their industry.

      1. Paper industry. This one has been on the way out for about a decade at least. Fortunately, they've laid off about everyone they can already.
      2. Chrysler/Ford/General Motors. Survey anybody who works for one of these companies, or for any of the thousands of companies that were built to do business with them, and I doubt you'll see too many of them who think they'll have jobs within the next 5 years.
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )
      I live in Michigan, I have a child in the school system and I can tell you, its horrible. So bad that last year I pulled her and put her into a private school even though we cant afford it. I live in one of the best rated school districts in Michigan and the schools suck. The kids run rampant, the level of education is horrible. They spend money on silly crap instead of competent teachers and are more interested in consumerism than education.

      Biggest problem is the schools that pay the most don't have th
  • Some points (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lurker McLurker ( 730170 ) <> 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.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by wizzahd ( 995765 )

      they'd be idiots to pick Apple's trendy but pricey players.

      On Thursday, House Democrats delivered a spending bill
    • Re:Some points (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tidewaterblues ( 784797 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @07:09AM (#18645001)
      Lucky for me I happen to be a Michigan resident living in a strained economic area. I can attest fully that this idea is beyond moronic in our current economic climate.

      I work in higher education IT, and I have a fair idea about what does and does not work in the classroom. This is yet another example of people believing that throwing technology at students will make them learn better. We have done this on a grand national scale to the tune of billion of dollars in various programs, and so far it has not had a measurable impact. Where I work we just had one of the major DOE education program spends thousands of dollars on an enormous wide-format printer for underprivileged students. So that they can print posters. Posters. In college. This is their idea of a sound technological investment in education. Not to mention that we already had one just like it.

      The fact of the matter is that no one "gets it" when it comes to technology in the classroom. An until they do, crap like this will keep creeping into legislation. The only silver lining about this is that there is no way in hell the governor will sign this measure into law.
      • The mathematics department at the college I attend has just bought the so-called "interactive whiteboards" for most maths classrooms. This is another example of what appears to be people who don't really think things through being duped by shiny technology promising to improve teaching or learning. Goodness knows who decided that providing us with computers designed to do the exact same things as whiteboards, but apparently not providing more than the most basic of training with the included whiteboard simu
    • by suv4x4 ( 956391 )
      First of all, the taxes aren't just to pay for the music players, they are for a number of measures.

      To successfully fund all these measures via taxing sat TV and soda, a new TV spot was created with a tagline "Be a patriot: drink soda and watch sat TV".

      The budget for this TV spot will be funded from the income from sat TV and soda taxes as well. This way it makes sense.
    • >they'd be idiots to pick Apple's trendy but pricey players.

      Heh heh heh.

      Oh man, thanks for the chuckle this morning.

      From what I know of government (not even talking about the U.S. specifically here), if a bad idea is worth doing, it's worth doing as inefficiently as possible...
    • Educational media doesn't have to be expensive. I came from a school where some teachers made their own educational media on school time. Once it's recorded, it can be used several times before needing to be updated.
  • Do you think the RIAA lobbied Michigan for the free ipods? I believe they need some more cash..

    "Here you go young child, here's a free ipod, can't pay for music on it? Don't worry - HA HA HA"

    Rubbing their hands in glee at the thought of suing all those kids..
  • Great (Score:3, Funny)

    by adona1 ( 1078711 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @06:33AM (#18644879)
    Now if only someone can write an adding & subtracting game for the PS3, I can start lobbying politicians here to subsidise those...for educational purposes =)

    In fact, the Wii promotes physical fitness as well, so they'd better give us one of them too. [It might seem weird to give us a game of a sport rather than encouraging us to actually do said sport, but it's not. It's progress =)]
    • Actually, my main reason for buying a Nintendo DS is so that I can study my Japanese kanji. Admittedly, this doesn't really impact the American market, but it's a definite educational tool, and very significant for at least one nation of people.
    • It might seem weird to give us a game of a sport rather than encouraging us to actually do said sport, but it's not.

      The benefit of the Wii is that its convenient, adaptive, and inside.

      It's more convenient than, say, actual tennis because you don't have to find someone to play against, buy a racket and some balls, and find a tennis court that's not in use. By the time you're done with that you're probably going to be too tired to actually play tennis, especially if you're out of shape.

      It's adaptive in th

  • by pedantic bore ( 740196 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @06:51AM (#18644945)
    They'll probably feel the same way that they do about paying higher taxes to give someone else's kid a better education, or some else's parents a better senior center, or the people on a different street a better sidewalk...

    Part of being a community is pooling resources in to help others. Even if you don't have any children of your own, for example, someone paid for your schooling, and when you're an adult you pay it back.

    Of course, then there are the endless arguments about exactly how this money should be spent...

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )
      How very communist of you. Why cant I give money to MY schools directly instead of being taxed? Honestly the schools in detriot would do better by making only detriot residents money go to detriot schools and so on. Yes that means that rural areas will have to pool schools instead of having a nice huge high school, middle school and grade school for their 300 students.

      I am tired of paying money to the "community good" and watching it go to someplace else instead of my neighborhood, my schools, my commun
    • Right, because people can't make rational value judgments about how their taxes are being spent.

      If living in your community requires me to buy toys for all the little kiddies, then I don't want to live in your community. Thanks anyway.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 07, 2007 @06:53AM (#18644957)
    Consider this:

    - the state of Michigan currently has a fiscal year 2007 budget of $920 million
    - the state government has been instructed to prepare for a shutdown this may due to lack of funds
    - next year's budget deficit is estimated to be more than $1 billion due to the single-business tax repeal that hasn't been replaced
    - Gov. Granholm has proposed higher taxes (a 2% tax on services) to cover part of the current deficit

    Combined with the problems of the Big 3 automakers (GM, Ford, Chrysler) that's been causing most of the economic slump in this area, the state legislatures have got to be daft to propose more spending on such silly projects. Now is the time for spending cuts, not increased spending!

    The state has been trying to convince students to stay in the state following graduation; I for one will run out of this state as fast as I can once I graduate in a few months (PhD in Aerospace Engineering). There is no way I want to stick around and see the state legislature and governor make the state economy even worse than it is.
  • Some problems (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PhotoGuy ( 189467 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @06:56AM (#18644965) Homepage
    I like the concept, but I have a few problems with it.

    First of all, why Apple? I love Apple, and I love the iPod, but in many ways, it's a prestige brand, not something that is warranted for a utilitarian purpose such as this. You can easily find as capable and reliable MP3 players for less than half the price of an equivalent iPod. The "wow" factor and ease of integration with iTunes, are both major features of the iPod, and both totally irrelevant to the educational purposes talked about here.

    Also, learning is a very visual medium. Unless we're talking about the super expensive video iPods, then the use will be limited to audio and minimal simplistic document reading. (There are other, cheaper devices that do video and documents better/cheaper than a non-video iPod.) Are most textbooks available/suitable/useful for viewing on a 1 inch screen? Wouldn't that involve buying digital copies of all the relevant texts, and additional and unnecessary cost?

    Plus, it will disguise music use; "what are you doing, Jimmy?" "Listening to a lecture, ma'am." Meanwhile he's listening to tunes. Like it or not, school kids do need some structure and supervision; this makes it too easy to goof off.

    It sounds like someone's trying to seem progressive, and is very misguided.
    • You can easily find as capable and reliable MP3 players for less than half the price of an equivalent iPod.

      You exaggerate, I think... the Apple Tax is more like 40% than 100%.
  • by suv4x4 ( 956391 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @06:56AM (#18644969)
    "The iPods that will be given away are iPod Shuffle, a light music player that shuffles the songs and plays them randomly", explained a spokesman for the House of Representatives.

    "We'll intermix the lectures with the latest pop and hip-hop singles, and the kids will have to put up with listening to lectures randomly so they can play they favorite music. We think it'll be a smashing success.".
    • gross. What about kids who don't like hip-hop and pop? Having grown up in rural Michigan I know that country music is massively popular, and people who like country tend to dislike hip-hop with a passion.

      What stops a kid from hitting the next button the iPod shuffle? Why try to pad the lecture with entertainment? I never believed edutainment actually works.

      We're given the choice between tax and spend democrats, and borrow and spend republicans. if you come up with some new plan and show a way to pay for it,
  • 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.

    So let me get this straight: Apple's next big product is called the iPorkBarrel?
  • wtf mang (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kaizokuace ( 1082079 )
    seriously wtf. This is the dumbest idea these policrats are spittin out since i dunno, ever. This money could be used to how about this: pay teachers more. I'm not saying get more teachers. Pay them higher salary. If i was a teacher and i suddenly got more money i would think i would enjoy teaching more. Happy teacher = learned student IMHO. I seriously think the country as a whole should be pumping money into the school system because now its not just the problem of too many people living too long o
  • Incomplete support (Score:4, Insightful)

    by halalay ( 1085315 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @08:08AM (#18645251)
    I expect that teachers will be given one day of training on incorporating the use of iPods into their teaching, provided no other resources or time to do successful incorporation, be blamed when the program flops, and be that much more reluctant to invest themselves in other new and promising tech initiatives in education.

    I am a high school info tech teacher in Michigan. Some of my classes are currently working to produce podcasts to help improve their understanding of available resources to support their current and future learning and to increase the range of media that they can communicate through. I have only just heard of the iPod initiative. The research I share with my students shows that good podcasts take planning and use intelligent editing. Class lectures done in podcasts will be of no more value than current hard copy if the students don't listen to or view them.

    iPods for learning have potential, but despite the good intentions, it currently is just another top down, half-baked solution to a serious problem. Past experience leads me to be very cynical of tech initiatives for education, not because they can't work, but because they are incompletely supported.

  • Ostensibly they're trying to save money on things like textbooks or language labs with tape decks. If that's the case, they should just stop refreshing textbooks for a while until they save enough money to buy an iPod and load it with educational content.

    Oh wait, schools hardly refresh textbooks as it is, that wouldn't raise enough money very fast :P

    Even then, they often forget that putting an iPod / PDA / laptop in a kids' hands is useless without any specialized content to throw on it, and the support st
  • by LaughingCoder ( 914424 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @08:30AM (#18645347)
    As of 2003, there were 52 million school age children in the US ( atestpopcounts.htm []).

    As of the end of 2006, there were 42 million iPods sold ( [])

    It strikes me that a large percentage of the Michigan school kids probably already have iPods.
  • 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.
    • Yes this is moronic. They should spend the money on teachers and texts.

      How about this? They don't take the money from the taxpayers in the first place and allow the taxpayers to decide how best to spend their own money?
  • by Duffie ( 1085325 )
    Exactly why has this become our top priority. I've watched from forty miles away as they've closed down Detroit schools and shut that community out more than they already are. Places like Detroit and inner Flint are struggling to even fit the definition of a city in the first world, and now our economic priority is... digital audio players! Oh, yeah. Because we all know that they're going to go home and put on their device scientific podcasts and discussions debating the importance of the Han Dynasty in C
  • Arts education, particularly music education is something every student should have, and most students need more of.

    You can try to stuff more math and language arts training into children, but in most cases the marginal effort would be better spent on music education. Yes, of course we need basic skills in math and writing. But actual fluency in using those skills has a lot in common with music, and we have no better way of training those aspects of functional literacy than music.

    My state has rigorous exa
  • sfw.. dont forget someone else will be buying *your* kids ipod then. The cost of the ipod will most likely be covered 10 times over by the amount of tax increases the state will gain:

          " soda and satellite TV services, among other things, to raise funds."

  • By design, but not for technical reasons, the iPod is not accessible to the blind nor the Deaf. Both RockBox [] and VoiceOver [] demonstrate, independently, paths to solving the first challenge. Captioning for video is an even easier fix [] that effects even more people []. Apple only last month made iTunes accessible [].
  • by lord_mike ( 567148 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @09:52AM (#18645769)
    ...of outrage if the suggestion was to buy MacBooks for every classroom.

    Probably not... although, I imagine that 30 years ago, there was probably some resistance to buying kids Apple II's in their schools, with the same old curmudgeon responses, "But the roads stink. We don't need more stuff in schools... bah!!!"

    Yes, Michigan roads stink... I always know I've hit the Michigan border when I hear the "kerchunk, kerchunk" every few seconds... you can set a timer to it. Perhaps it's the fact that you guys drive like 90 MPH.

    Michigan is in the same dire straights that Ohio is now, but it's not because of Jennifer Granholm or anything the state government did or did not do. The U.S. automobile industry is in the tanker, and the economy of Michigan feeds off of the Big 3. No amount of state intervention (or non-intervention) would have helped the situation. If you can blame anyone, blame our federal government, who has shown little interest in protecting American industries. Michigan is just feeling it's disastrous effects. Of course, political opponents are using this to their advantage. But, does anyone really believe that DeVos would have been able to improve anything?

    This single line item in the budget that has everybody so in an uproar won't pass. It can't pass, since the state can't run a deficit like the feds... It sure struck a nerve, but unfairly so, I believe.



    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Yes, Michigan roads stink... I always know I've hit the Michigan border when I hear the "kerchunk, kerchunk" every few seconds... you can set a timer to it. Perhaps it's the fact that you guys drive like 90 MPH.

      Ahh michigan, where you can go by a state trooper doing 80, because he's looking for the guys doing 110...

      Road conditions in Michigan suck for four reasons:

      1. Climate. The temp swings 120 degrees every year, and usually can swing 60 degrees in a week. Yeah, I know this happens in other states, but Mi
  • Good grief (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by ScrewMaster ( 602015 )
    While the merits of distributing a solid-state audio player to every child are certainly debatable, the idea of supplying iPods is not. Why should Apple receive a state subsidy when there are many less expensive and more capable MP3 players out there? Just so the kids will feel good about themselves? Half of the things will probably be stolen the first week after they're handed out. In any event, this is a complete waste of taxpayer dollars, if the idea is to allow children to receive audio lessons. And no,
  • educational iPod ? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by billcopc ( 196330 )
    How is an iPod educational ? I remember way back in the 90's when I was a student :P We didn't have MP3 course materials, we had audio cassettes. A portable cassette player in the 90's cost about $20. Then when CD burners got cheap, people were distributing discs. A portable CD player in the 2000's costs $20. iPod players cost $200 right now, and I doubt they'll ever be $20, not even the chinese knockoffs. I say stick to CD players. They're cheap, they're reliable, they're ubiquitous, they're well u
  • Seems to me [] they've been at this for a while. Any Apple shareholders in the committee that decided this?
  • Recently I've been listening to the Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology [] podcast during my commute. It is pretty cool!
  • Now there will be more folks seeding the music torrents.

Forty two.