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School Swaps Math Textbooks For iPads 439

MexiCali59 writes "Four of California's largest school districts will be trying something new on eighth-grade algebra students this year: giving them iPads instead of textbooks. The devices come pre-loaded with a digital version of the text, allowing students to view teaching videos, receive homework assistance and input assignment all without picking up a pen or paper. If the students with iPads turn out to do improve at a faster pace than their peers as expected, the program could soon spread throughout the Golden State."
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School Swaps Math Textbooks For iPads

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  • Expensive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Niris ( 1443675 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @04:56PM (#33513456)
    California is in the middle of a hiring freeze for the State, and a huge deficit. Where exactly are they getting the money for these iPad projects for these districts, let alone for the rest of the State if they decide to advance it?
  • Re:Expensive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @04:57PM (#33513462)
    Because California, like the rest of the USA is immune to the laws of economics!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @04:58PM (#33513476)

    "If the students with iPads turn out to do improve at a faster pace than their peers as expected, the program could soon spread throughout the Golden State."


    As expected from what prior evidence?

    We all know that computers will make illiterate and innumerate Amerikans literate and numerate.

    Yours In Osh,
    K. T.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:2, Insightful)

    by techwrench ( 586424 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:00PM (#33513498)
    If you have lived there, you would know that trivial things like deficits are to looked down upon with disdain..... Think of the Children!!!!!
  • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:00PM (#33513508)

    I've seen Android devices for a fraction of the price. When you consider how much text books are going for nowadays, the thought that a student or school can rent textbook access could be a major game changer. I had semesters in college where textbooks alone were $300+ and that was 15 years ago.

  • by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:03PM (#33513562)
    But the problem is with the publisher, not with the educational institution. Textbook publishers regularly screw students/schools for what is essentially public domain material.

    In all honesty, using free primary sources and teaching the class from that would be a lot cheaper than textbooks for most classes.
  • Re:Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Robert Zenz ( 1680268 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:06PM (#33513602) Homepage
    I still don't get why Gold is an investment...especially if the world breaks down. It's always said that if the civilazation ends, Gold will be the last thing worth something. If the world is at it's edge, the last thing I'd want to carry around would be gold.
  • by Sonny Yatsen ( 603655 ) * on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:08PM (#33513652) Journal

    Maybe I'm just a Luddite, but half the appeal of learning from a book (especially for a subject like math) was the ability to quickly flip between half a dozen pages to get to the right charts, reference sheets, and examples, and being able to scribble my illegible notes in the margins. I guess you could do it with an iPad with bookmarks and annotations, but I can't imagine it being anywhere near as natural or as easy as you can with a regular old textbook.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mark72005 ( 1233572 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:14PM (#33513744)
    Collegiate textbooks cost around $100, and most high schools are re-using books for 4-5 years (or, these days, stretching them out even longer). I highly doubt this is a cost savings.

    (as if any new government program ever results in cost savings anyway)
  • Re:Expensive (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:14PM (#33513748)
    But it doesn't. You can't just throw money at a problem and find a solution, in fact the most worthwhile solutions are the ones that cost the least. The US government has no problems tossing money in education/infrastructure but its all worthless because they are simply redistributing wealth that is more efficiently done in the private sector. Consider a private school, barring some of the weird religious schools which specialize in fascism and indoctrination, private schools are in general better because they don't get the money thrown at them every which way. Yeah, private schools are expensive, but add in how many -millions- of dollars go to public schools that don't perform. Why is it that almost every single privately educated student is better educated than a public school educated student despite massive redistribution of wealth? With a private school, they have to make every dollar count. A private school can't just ask voters for an extra million, they can't take money from people who don't use the service like public schools can. Yet they have a higher quality.

    Governments breed waste, inefficiency and tyranny and can never lead to a net gain for society when compared to a private institution.
  • by AndrewNeo ( 979708 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:22PM (#33513858) Homepage

    I don't know about in California, but when I was in 8th grade I would sure as hell have gotten in a lot of trouble for writing in my books.

  • The Oops Factor (Score:4, Insightful)

    by b4upoo ( 166390 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:29PM (#33513946)

    And who will pay for the lost, drowned or bashed Ipads? Eighth grade kids are rougher than boot camp at Paris Island!

  • Re:Expensive (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:33PM (#33513978)

    With a private school, they have to make every dollar count.

    But they don't have to take every student who shows up. And it's not just the schools but also the parents who have an interest in making every dollar count, and it's the parents who can have the biggest impact on a student's success. Sorry, but this isn't as simple as you make it out to be.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:34PM (#33513994)

    The logic of the bureaucracy is simply lunacy.

    "Why are you blowing your full budget?"

    "I do not want to have my budget cut for next year."

    "But you didn't need it all this year."

    "Yeah, but I want more next year."

    That's what is happening in every government agency. If the idiots in charge were not all collectively doing this, then, for starters, there would be a rainy day fund when they really needed it. Agencies would actually be able to request bigger budgets when they really needed it, and, this is crazy, we'd actually have money to give them.

    It should be criminal to blow a budget simply to try and get the same amount or more for the next budget cycle.

  • Re:Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RyuuzakiTetsuya ( 195424 ) <taiki.cox@net> on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:36PM (#33514014)

    I can't eat gold, I can't drink gold, gold doesn't entertain me, and it won't protect me.

    Gold requires a certain level of civilization for it's OOOH SHINY effect to be worth while.

    I guess if you had a gold bar you could beat someone senseless with it though.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BobMcD ( 601576 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:46PM (#33514164)

    How many school children have had unsupervised access to your devices?

  • Re:Expensive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by copponex ( 13876 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:51PM (#33514218) Homepage

    Private schools perform better because of selection bias. Parents who care about their child's education will go the extra mile, including spending extra money that doesn't always yield results. Stable families and finances are the determining factor in academic success, not the source of the funding for the school.

    As someone who went to a private and a public high school, the only difference was that everyone at the private school never wanted for anything and most never had jobs other than school, while in public school a few miles away, they had night jobs just so they could make ends meet for their family. One major problem is that high schools in the US are treated like minimum security prisons for teenagers. Ending truancy laws once they turn 15 could solve the biggest problem of teachers being forced to control students who won't want to be there in the first place.

    But really, your entire argument rests on the belief that anyone born poor or with learning disabilities does not deserve an education. That's a pretty low moral standard to aim for, and one you are strangely proud of.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:51PM (#33514236)
    Are you a salesman for Apple or something?

    Note that these benefits are specific to devices like the iPad and not PCs. PCs are much more expensive, delicate and difficult to set up, maintain and use.

    PCs are a hell of a lot easier to batch set up and load. AFAIK you can't just remotely load up 200 iPads, on the other hand its pretty damn easy to do that with PCs, just network boot them then push all the stuff in from the network.

    And the problem isn't the paper, its the publishers. Without copyright you'd pay $2-3 for a textbook, not $50-100 for one. eBook editions of things really aren't all that cheap. Plus, there is a durability/resale question. A textbook is pretty easily readable in 10 years, especially a math book, things aren't going to fundamentally change. History books, science books? Yeah. Math, English, etc? No. But they used this for math and not the other subjects. Will an iPad even hold a charge in 10 years? Won't publishers simply screw schools out of books because with digital ones you can remove the older ones and make them pay for all new books whenever you want to upgrade, etc.

    As far as I can tell, yes, this is throwing money at a problem to get in the headlines. Any return on investment is minimal because the iPad doesn't eliminate the need for many things, plus, iPads are fragile. Drop a book in the hall? No big deal. Drop an iPad and you are out ~$500, lose a book and you might be out ~$50-100, lose an iPad and you are out ~$500, someone steals a book? No huge deal. Someone steals an iPad? It lands in a pawn shop somewhere. Etc.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:52PM (#33514242)

    And how much is the cost of that electronic textbook's license per student? Probably less than $100, but definitely not free.


    Schwarzenegger launched a program in 2009 to create digital textbooks in math and science owned by the state board of education. At the end of 2009 they had ten texts, including math through Calc 1 and 2.

  • by spazdor ( 902907 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:52PM (#33514258)

    Governments breed waste, inefficiency and tyranny and can never lead to a net gain for society when compared to a private institution.

    Private institutions breed greed, cartels and perverse incentives and can never lead to a decision-making process which would choose a net gain for society over a greater gain for itself.

    Yes, both of these sentences are moronic oversimplifications.

  • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:53PM (#33514268)

    Have you heard the word "hypothesis?"

  • Re:Expensive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:55PM (#33514310)

    Governments breed waste, inefficiency and tyranny and can never lead to a net gain for society when compared to a private institution.

    Never? Taking that at face value you must advocate the elimination of laws, courts, police, and military (all government institutions) to be replaced with the might makes right anarchy of every man for himself (the ultimate private institution). To me that sounds like a net loss for society.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by suomynonAyletamitlU ( 1618513 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @06:02PM (#33514366)

    No, you can't throw money at it, but at the same time, that's not necessarily what the GP is talking about.

    Invest is a transitive verb--it's usually used to refer to money, but you also invest time and effort. In particular, investing in education and infrastructure is as much about allowing or encouraging people to invest their efforts as it is about the money--when you are investing in a non-established company, you are giving them money yes, but you are giving them an opportunity to try new things that might not work, and refine their technique over a period of months or years until they find a solution.

    Investing in new technology in order to see if the students, or the teachers, can do more with them is investing money in their potential. It may be smart, or foolish, depending on what the students and teachers are like, but that's mostly to say "we haven't figured out how to do it yet."

    Governments breed waste, inefficiency and tyranny and can never lead to a net gain for society when compared to a private institution.

    Government, in my mind, has a singular purpose: to do with economies of scale what would be either impossible for a single entity (social security, medicare, disaster relief), or which it would be unreasonable to assume someone would do (charity, police/military, waste management).

    I'm not saying it isn't very often a bad thing, or that it doesn't open up lots of bad opportunities for people, but go find somewhere on this planet where trash, septics, fresh water, etc are not even touched by government of any level, then compare it to the first world, and tell me government has nothing to offer.

  • by neurocutie ( 677249 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @06:02PM (#33514376)

    you means "Oops, I lost it (i.e. I sold it for $400), please give me another..."

    in these discussions, people are assuming that the digital textbooks are FREE, kinda like assuming that digital music (e.g. MP3) is free and that all the costs are in the CD media (in the book format itself)... WRONG...

    all you're doing is trading $10 worth of a pretty rugged yet not very steal/lost-susceptible format with a 5+ year life (a book) for a $400, fragile, VERY steal/lost prone format (ipad) with an at-best 2 year life... the costs of the content is going to be similar.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @06:07PM (#33514436) Homepage

    the idea that investing in education and infrastructure yields tangible benefits for society!

    But it doesn't. You can't just throw money at a problem and find a solution...

    I just want to point out that your response doesn't match what you're responding to. The idea was not "throwing money at the problem of education yields tangible benefits".

    Or do you think that money spent on education is a waste? A society should not bother educating their citizenry? Is it all that simple, that investments in education are all simply waste?

    Or would it be fair to say that education costs money, but an effective and efficient education system will ultimately be worth the resources directed toward its operation? Let's assume for the sake of argument that you're right, and that private schools are better. So let's say I spend $120,000 putting my child through private school. Is that $120k not well spent? Could you not conceive of the possibility that, over the course of my child's lifetime, society will gain more that $120k worth of added societal value and productivity from my child's education?

  • Re:Expensive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tetsujin ( 103070 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @06:08PM (#33514444) Homepage Journal

    They didn't just throw money. They bought an electronic device that proved to be much more effective than what they replaced.

    No, the results of this test aren't in yet. A salesman for the education firm pushing this program says that it's effective. This deployment is a test to see if it's true. Even the initial results of this experiment won't be ready for another few months.

    Personally I don't believe this is the best use of that kind of money, but I'm open-minded. Maybe it'll work out. Who knows?

  • Re:Expensive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by uberdilligaff ( 988232 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @06:13PM (#33514506)
    You are right on the money. Despite the noble intentions, this expensive experiment will not turn out well.
  • Re:Expensive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @06:40PM (#33514840)

    iPads are much more durable than laptops or netbooks. We've been evaluating them at my company. They are also much easier to set up.

    Um, ok. So, battery dies in an iPad, what do you do? You can't just put in a new one, the batteries aren't user replaceable. Flash chip goes bad in an iPad, what do you do? You can't just take it out like you could a standard SSD and load up a standardized image on it. Screen breaks on an iPad, what do you do? Its certainly not as easy as changing a laptop's screen.

    Also, you can't easily set up limited user accounts. Yeah, there are "parental controls" but that isn't going to be as safe as individual accounts.

    You seem to think that there is no problem with a textbook being 10 years old. Well, a lot you (don't) know about textbooks. Not only do they need updating much more frequently then that, many schools don't have enough to give to students. They have to share them in class and cannot take them home. It's a huge problem and a huge expense.

    Um, throughout high school I regularly used textbooks that were 10 years or more old for subjects that don't change Math, English, Keyboarding, etc. other than parts in the math textbook talking about a record store, it was just fine.

    And so, you mean to say that somehow a school can't afford a $50 book, but can afford a $500 device + $50 book?

    As for the $500 for a device. Well, that's as cheap or cheaper than all the texts a middle or high schooler uses and you didn't include all the other teaching content - interactive and all - that can be included. You can make parents share financial responsibility or assume all of it. We used to have to pay for lost or damaged textbooks. Why not iPads?

    paper is not the main cost all the iPad is, is just the thing to run it. The book isn't free. You are still paying $50 a book on an iPad, the difference is that the book is electronic and not physical. If the paper was the main culprit I'd have my nook loaded up with all best sellers and would be saving a ton of money. You still have to buy the books. Yeah, there might be a slight discount, its not free though.

    Like it or not, the publishers are all moving fast in this direction. Where you see that its because they can make more money I see it as they can provide more value and replace some more expensive assets.

    What the fuck don't you get?

    A) School pays $500 per student for an iPad

    B) School pays $50 per student per book for the iPad

    Is the digital model. The paper model is

    A) School buys a paper book for $50 per student per book.

    Yeah, e-books have some nice extras. Do they justify an extra $500 per student. Hell no.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Americano ( 920576 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @06:51PM (#33514932)

    You know, I generally consider myself "libertarian-leaning," but I think you're oversimplifying this to a frightening extent in your pursuit of an ideal.

    Why should mechanics read Shakespeare? Because communication is important - probably even more so than the mechanical knowledge, the basic skills of every day interactions - talking, reading, writing - are critical skills for living. Reading other people's writing, especially those who are good communicators, educates you in how to communicate more effectively. Writing your own thoughts down, and practicing expressing your thoughts & opinions has value, no matter how much you, personally, hated English class back in high school

    You see, nobody exists in a completely insular little vacuum. Mechanics don't wake up, pork their wife (also a mechanic), and send their kids off to mechanic school (mechanics-to-be!), then go to the garage, where they do mechanic stuff all day without talking to a single other soul. Then come home, eat some Mechanic Cuisine tv dinners, and go to bed, and maybe if they're lucky, pork their mechanic wife again.

    A purely utilitarian view of people like you've expressed - where we're all specialized widgets who have "no need" for any learning outside their narrow specialized niche is engaging in overly reductionist thinking, and it's probably not a society that any of us would care to be a part of for long.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MaWeiTao ( 908546 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @06:52PM (#33514954)

    That's a ridiculous statement you make considering the US spends more per student, by far, than any other country on Earth. The small city where I live spends more than the next highest country which is in Northern Europe. And it's not a little more, it's thousands more they spend. The city has had budget problems for decades now. A significant portion of the population is low-income.

    The problem is that too many schools in the city are still crap. But the money ends up going to garbage. If it's not a gimmicky program then it's an overpaid administrator sucking up that money. These idiots hired some administrator from some big city. Her income is well over $250k a year and she's refused to forgo raises claiming she needs them for cost-of-living increases. And she's done next to nothing to improve the educational system in this city. Of course a huge part of the problem are irresponsible parents who don't discipline their kids and instill the value of education in them, so things are never so simple.

    The problem with Americans, particularly when it comes to social programs, is that they think simply throwing money at the problem will fix it. When people start talking about needing money for schools what they actually mean is that teachers want significant pay increases and cushy benefits. I'd love to have the job security and generous benefits some teacher friends of mine enjoy. The money never goes to directly improving education for students. When it does trickle its way down too often it ends up being something stupid like these iPads.

    How will these iPads improve education? They wont improve a thing. In fact, they're going to be a massive distraction. Kids already are easily distracted, they don't need yet another toy to make things worse. And given how careless they will be with these things schools are going to be replacing them every few months. Money flushed down the toilet.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Americano ( 920576 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @07:09PM (#33515064)

    As an example of well-constructed communication & written thought? Every part.

    You see, we can learn from examples, even if we don't speak now like people did in Shakespearean times.

    But if it makes you feel better, let's eliminate Shakespeare from the curriculum, but agree that reading well-written poetry, prose, and drama from modern writers has an educational benefit far beyond how quickly you can rebuild a V6 Toyota engine?

    And good luck learning anything from a technical manual in the brave new world where mechanics don't have to learn to express their thoughts in written or verbal form. After all, if fundamental literacy is irrelevant to mechanics, who's going to be able to write down how to fix the engine, and who's going to be able to read it even if someone did?

  • Re:Expensive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jargon82 ( 996613 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @07:59PM (#33515374)
    It should be criminal to base next years funding on what was spent last year and little else. This needs to be fixed before any of these depts are going to address the other side of it (spending in order to have access in the future to similar funds). I've seen some downright insane wastes as a result of end of year surpluses.
  • Re:Expensive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tibit ( 1762298 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @08:23PM (#33515552)

    At the expense of losing my mods here, I must intervene.

    You're a lunatic to think that textbooks need "updating much more frequently than that". Textbooks need to be decently done, and then you can keep using them. Exceptions would be perhaps history/social study textbooks. The problem is that no grade level textbook is ever methodically worked on and improved. This used to be the case in the times long forgotten, but not nowadays, not in the U.S.

    Textbooks are mediocre to start with, they get superficial changes made to them to warrant new editions, and then somehow all bridges are burned and we get a newly written textbook. Newer, but just as mediocre, or worse. And so the mediocricity is maintained. Noone wants to seriously edit, expand and improve upon "old" texts.

    Feynman did some rather methodical reviewing of certain California textbooks in mid-1960s. I'm an optimist, so I thought that things have improved. So, a couple years ago I borrowed a bunch of mid- and highschool physics/science textbooks used in Ohio, and I read through them. The quality is rather uniform -- that of bovine manure. I still have nightmares about that -- drowning in manure pits and such. All of the authors, every single one of them, had absolutely no effing clue what they were writing about. I have no excerpts handy, but it was disgusting. Superficially, it all "made sense" and was seemingly fine. But as soon as you started reading and paying attention, it was all crap. A text that others depend upon for learning, without prior experience of the subject taught, must adhere to pretty high standards. The way it is, though, is exactly the opposite. Mistakes, falsehoods and demonstable lack of understanding abounds in those books.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by node 3 ( 115640 ) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @12:22AM (#33517060)

    Because the USA, unlike the rest of the world, is immune to the idea that investing in education and infrastructure yields tangible benefits for society!

    But it doesn't.

    Congratulations on just proving his point.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drsmithy ( 35869 ) <drsmithy@gm a i l .com> on Thursday September 09, 2010 @01:52AM (#33517528)

    Um, how does it? Lets imagine a scenario with no public schools at all.

    Why imagine it ? Just go back a hundred-odd years in history then look at everything before that.

    The world wouldn't suddenly collapse, people would just learn more efficiently. People would have a greater deal of specialization which would allow them to better perform in the workplace. Lets face it, why should Joe Sixpack who is really great at, say, diesel mechanics have to read Shakespeare when he can simply be learning how to be a better mechanic?

    How do you propose he figures out whether he's better at fixing diesel engines or standing on stage ?

    Its silly that we've put people on a treadmill to "higher education" that basically screws the poor and the working-class.

    Right. Because having them grow up illiterate and uneducated - or in the best case class-stratified and railroaded into whatever jobs their families already do - wouldn't screw them in the slightest.

    Because of government-run schools, a high school diploma is basically worthless, its not a qualification. If you walk into almost every job interview situation and proudly proclaim you graduated high school you will get laughed at. So what happens? Even for entry-level positions employers now want a college degree and that screws the poor.

    That has nothing to do with government-run schools and everything to do with a badly run education system.

    Consider Joe Sixpack, he is a great diesel mechanic but bad at English, Algebra and History.

    How does he know ? Without public schools he's never had the chance to even *try* English, Algebra and History because he's been working 12 hours a day down at the local subway station with his dad shining shoes for a dollar each since he was 5.

    So rather than Joe Sixpack being able to really study mechanics and being a better worker, he has to sit through classes that are boring for him and cost taxpayer dollars. Not only that but thanks to a high school degree being basically worthless, Joe Sixpack now has to go to tech school or a university at his own expense basically screwing him financially for the next ten years of his life unless he magically finds a job that doesn't require that, which is rare these days.

    You've described a poorly run education system, not any fundamental problem with a publicly funded education system. I'll admit to not being familiar with the American system, but in the systems I am familiar with students are free to start choosing most of their subjects and specialising (outside of a few core requirements like English and Maths) as of about 14 years old.

    Post-highschool study is always going to be required if you want to be a skilled worker, of any stripe. In some cases you get this at a University, in others you get it at a trade school, and in still others you get it on the job. The point is that nobody outside of unnatural prodigies can acquire the necessary skills by 17 to be finely skilled at anything, without grossly neglecting the rest of the education and going back to the days of class stratification.

    Most people should not go to college its silly that its so forced on people, we now have people only being productive from 22+ years or older and piled on with debt, or too poor to get into college and have a door slammed on them by potential employers for not going to college.

    Now you are describing a broken hiring culture in a addition to a broken education system. Again, the problem here has nothing to do with government, it is solely the fault of private enterprise's unrealistic expectations.

    The elimination of the public school system would allow for greater specialization, better workers, better innovators who aren't wasting their time and my money.

    Bullshit. It would result in the same thing it resulted in previously. Child labor, class stratification, dramatically reduced class mobility, an illiterate, ignorant public and the inaccessibility of education to anyone except rich or extraordinarily lucky individuals.

    Public education is, quite possibly, one of the greatest achievements and defining features of modern civilisation.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Drogo007 ( 923906 ) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @11:59AM (#33523020)

    You also missed that private schools get to select students to avoid all the problem students that suck down lots and lots of resources in the public school system, so Private Schools can more efficiently use their resources.

  • Re:Expensive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by copponex ( 13876 ) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @12:28PM (#33523510) Homepage

    Peer-review does not make something correct

    Peer review means it has received documented critical analysis by people in the same field, which makes it much more difficult to pass off simple assertions.

    I trust corporations with my need for food all the time

    No you don't. The FDA (when properly funded and empowered) is the entity that keeps you from dying of salmonella and ecoli. The libertarian solution is for your child to die and for you to "learn" that you shouldn't buy food from the same vendor again.

    The rest of your comment ignores the simple truth that YOU are in control of YOUR government, if you live in a functioning democracy. All of the whining and hand wringing about powerful politicians is pathetic apathy, masquerading as a red herring about imagined injustice.

    It is your job to make sure that your politicians are acting in your interests, through your vote and your participation in politics. Once you hand that sort of power over to a private entity which doesn't even have to pretend to have your interests in mind, or be afraid that you have any way to fire his ass, you'll quickly find yourself living in an oligarchy with no rights.

    we can no longer adequately explain 1) the rise of the American system before the close of the War of Northern Aggression (Civil War) and America's transformation into an empire or 2) why despotisms are generally incapable of improving their countries, even when they are 'legitimately' put in power by the people.

    1) I do not see a point to comprehend - are you really trying to compare the offshoot of British imperialism with tribal societies under the thumb of British and European imperialism?

    2) There's an entire section of history concerning enlightened despotism. It's the most effective form of government, but far too dangerous to give any one person that much power in the event someone like Stalin or Hitler becomes that person. []

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun