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Education Needs Work, Not Laptops.

March 16, 2012

I read an article that said the US Education Secretary, Arne Duncan wants a laptop on every desk in our schools and universal internet access in every home. Duncan stated that “American education is decentralized,” consisting of 15,000 school districts and 95,000 public schools “independently deciding how to teach, and in many cases, what to teach.” The second part of that statement is an outright lie, you would think as Secretary of education he would know the basic curriculum in most if not all schools are set at the state level. They have what is called “Common Core Standards”, which most states have adopted. Here is a chart from the website that shows state by state who follows those standards, most have as you can see, http://www.corestandards.org/in-the-states.

The Laptop Issue

  • Why do we need one on every desk?
  • Who is going to pay for them?
  • Will they take them home at night?
  • Who will maintain and update all of them?

Why do we need one on every desk? What is to accomplished by this? Is not the purpose of going to school to learn the basics, reading, writing, english, math and science? The secretary of education says this can level the playing field for  low-income, minority and rural students who don’t have laptops and i-phones at home. I can’t argue the fact that some in those groups have less access to a computer or the internet. From the data available you will find that over 80% of all US households now have a home computer (desktop or laptop). As far as internet access the statistics range from 60% to 68%, depending on the report you are reading. Also, if read from this government website (http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=46) it tells a far different story then what Duncan wants you to believe. 100% of all public schools already have computers and access for all students, and yet so many students are still failing and dropping out! I know there are other factors involved, but that is another topic altogether.

Who is going to pay for all these new laptops? Most school districts are already strapped for cash. The fed is getting us further in debt everyday as it is. So where is money going to come from?

Will they take them home at night? How will we control this if it happens? And who will be responsible for them if they are abused or stolen, the parents, school district or the student?

Here is a real interesting topic here. Will all the schools need to start an I.T. Department to maintain, update and keep track of all these computers? Will this add a whole new layer of bureaucracy to implement and maintain those goals?

Internet Access Issue

The internet is run by private business, for profit. Internet access is not a right or a privilege, it’s a choice, economic and personal. For everyone to have the high speed internet access that was mentioned the government would have to get involved. Why you ask? Because many of the rural customers not currently being offered hard wired services is due to the lack of profit to be realized. When you consider what it would cost them to run the physical wires (cable), and maintenance of them would outweigh the profit they could make on them. Very simple business decision! So that means the government would have to subsidize that whole venture also for it to be practical. And I am sure that they (the government) would need to create a new government department to oversee all of that, more spending. I have to wonder if they have other motives for making sure everyone is wired, but that is another story. And if Uncle Sam gets involved how do they decide who gets all of these new customers and who sets the rates they can charge for services?

The Real Issue

The real issue here is education! Or in some cases the lack of education of some segments of the population. Why are we not focusing on that first? We need to address the issues that are hindering the process to begin with before we throw more money at the problem. Computers should not even be considered until a student reaches the high school level to begin with, because by then they should have the basic education to really benefit from them. Even if the student plans a career in I.T or computer related fields the high school years should give them enough knowledge to progress from there. Also, they would move forward on a career path (college, tech school, etc..) that would be required for them to pursue their career choice.

We need to consider the real issues such as teacher qualifications, economic status of the students, parental support at home, etc… There are so many things that contribute to the problem, there are no easy or quick solutions. But the thing I am sure of is the US Education Department is going in the wrong direction. Education is the responsibility of the State, and it should be left that way. What would lead you to believe that someone in Washington knows better what each community needs to educate their children? We have seen what Washington’s crystal ball has given us so far, we can’t afford anymore of their predictions!

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