No need for more taxes to fund student laptops

No need for more taxes to fund student laptops

It was the mid-90s, I was on the Cumberland School Committee, and earned a living in the computer hardware and software industry.

On one occasion a recommendation came down from the administration that the entire school system should change over to, and purchase, Apple computers (pre Macintosh), as opposed to Microsoft PCs. (Windows 95 had been recently introduced.)

The recommendation went down faster then many a German Messerschmidt or Japanese Zero with a P-51 on its tail ... as should the most recent recommendation today being bandied about by the leaders out there in Cumberland Academia. Leaders and teachers that, in some ways, here as elsewhere, are not getting the job done and are looking at new excuses to convince parents, and taxpayers, that this latest recommendation will solve all of the issues as to why our children are not being properly educated.

We are being told that all kinds of studies, by so-called experts, have documented this "cure-all." Superintendent Phil Thornton has chosen to use: "Every Child, Every Day: A Digital Conversion Model for Student Achievement" by Mark Edwards, a superintendent in North Carolina who outlines his district's successes after putting a laptop in the hands of every student.

I would venture to say that when the job is not getting done almost any improvement will help but, claiming giving all students a laptop, an item that with hard use has, at best, a three-year lifespan, before the trash-can, is not the cure-all. (Visit your local PC repair facility and check-out the mile-high piles of irreparable laptops!)

As has been well documented the U.S. student population's performance against students from around the world, including third-world countries, is deplorable at best. And, most of those students do not have their own - school system supplied at taxpayer expense - personal laptops.

Being computer literate, and involved, I do not deny, nor will I attempt to deny the role PCs, laptops, Macs and iPads play in today's world, especially in making knowledge, the most powerful tool known to mankind, readily available.

That said, I still do not believe that the school system supplying students personal laptops at taxpayer expense should be allowed.

Fine, supplying PCs in the classroom, but, where one sees a family of six sit down in a restaurant for dinner, and all (very rudely) pull out smartphones, iPads, iPhones, tablets and the like, I believe that with technology becoming what it has, that laptops are a parental responsibility, and not mine or any taxpayer or senior citizen of this town.

Tom Letourneau