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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Dumb dumb dumb

Posted by: Hammer / 2:33 PM

I love the Internets. I love computers. I'm pro-efficiency. But this is dumb, dumb, dumb:

A high school in Vail will become the state's first all-wireless, all-laptop public school this fall. The 350 students at the school will not have traditional textbooks. Instead, they will use electronic and online articles as part of more traditional teacher lesson plans.

But the move to laptops is not cheap. The laptops cost $850 each, and the district will hand them to 350 students for the entire year. The fast-growing district hopes to have 750 students at the high school eventually.

A set of textbooks runs about $500 to $600, Baker said.

A set of textbooks costs $500?! I never spent that much on books in semester at law school. Beer, yes; books, no. (Books about beer: about $25 lifetime.)

Any school that spends $500 per year per student on books is getting ripped off big time. Here's one hint -- you don't need new math books every year. Calculus hasn't changed that much since Newton owned Leibniz. Here's another hint -- you don't need new history books every year, either. If you've got a U.S. history text current through the first Gulf War, you're doing fan-freakin'-tastic. Stick with the book and supplement it.

This is a boondoggle, plain and simple. Schools should teach kids to read, write, and think -- not how to win every variation of Free Cell.

For those who say that kids need to learn to use computers to be competitive in a computer-dominated world, let me remind you that Tim Berners-Lee, Dennis Ritchie, and Linus Torvalds managed to compete in the modern world without laptops in high school.


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