PSD Spends Big on Laptops

“Better Use for PSD Money Than Laptops”

John Clarke

August 27, 2012 

       First of all, may I just say what a strange world it is we live in today? In the article “Better Use for PSD Money Than Laptops”, the author, John Clarke, discusses the distribution of new laptops to every ninth grade student in the Poudre School District this year. Apparently, $2,150,000 of the district’s funds is spent each year to buy laptop computers for students. Clarke is obvious in his disagreements with this usage of educational funding and states, “While spending this money on computers, the district has laid-off more than 140 teachers and, as a result, class size is increasing” (page 1). He goes on to explain his ideas on the present statistics on the number of households in the area that do not have an available computer. In the author’s opinion, not enough households with children do not have a computer or Internet connection available to validate the spending of millions of dollars on new laptops for students. Clarke also explains that monitoring of the student’s behavior is difficult, that the laptops will, in his opinion, prove to be “time wasters”, and he describes the harsh wear-and-tear that the laptops will incur from being “hauled around by teenagers” (page 2). Finally, the solution that Clarke provides is to have an available laptop for each student in the classroom, being kept at school, and being shared by the other students.

      Personally, I have recently heard about the laptop distribution in Poudre School District and I may actually have the opportunity to volunteer one day this week to help hand them out to students. My first reaction statement, “What a strange world it is we live in today” corresponds with the idea of handing out laptops to students, almost as a yearly school supply like glue or 3-ring binders. I am not very old and even when I was in elementary school we only had four computers per one classroom, which were shared by all students of the same grade. I do recognize the growing usage and encouragement of technology in the classroom, however, I may have to agree with angry Clarke in his questioning of using district funding for buying each student a laptop. I must disagree, however, with his solution to this problem. For many years schools have been implementing Clarke’s ‘solution’ of having the laptops remain at school and to only have enough of them for students to share. The reason why this strategy, albeit more cost effective, is not completely efficient is due to the need of many students of computer access at home, outside of the classroom, for homework assignments and projects. On the other hand, I do not believe that each and every single student needs to receive a laptop for personal, at-home usage, especially do to the economic demographic of Fort Collins and the surrounding areas. I think a better solution would be to have research commenced on the low-income students of each school (which is already fairly accessible in the Census), as well as, which students do not have access to the Internet or a computer at home. From this information, laptops may be distributed to these students that are in need, in turn lowering the spending costs on laptops and allowing each child an equal playing field. The idea of having laptops on each years’ “School Supply Shopping List” may have pushed tax-payers, parents, and community members to the edge for effective budget spending, but as a future educator, I also believe we need to see that our classrooms are changing and uphold the idea of equal opportunity.

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