A. Pelletier: A really bad idea

I have said this many times in this forum — laptops paid for by taxpayers and given to middle and high school students is a bad idea. Now there is evidence.

According a a news report by a Maine television station, many of the 60,000 laptops taxpayers paid for may be being used to look at and pass on pornography, plus steal copyrighted music and films, on the taxpayers' dime.

Also in the report was an interview with a State Police official that more manpower will be needed for a task force to cope with the ever-growing problem — more expenses paid for by taxpayers. Unbelievable.

The educators who came up with that brainstorm really need a pat on the back. They asked the public to support that idea; many said yes and now it is time to pony up, again.

How about if those folks with that "bright idea" pay for additional policing out of their pockets, or get the computer company to pay for it?

I'm sick and tired of paying for idiotic ideas.

Al Pelletier, Norway

Editor's note: According to the Maine Department of Education, all public schools have content filters to restrict student access to certain sites during the school day, as required by the Maine Learning Technology Initiative since 2006, but when laptops are taken home parents are responsible for monitoring Internet access.

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Comments

AL PELLETIER's picture

The crickets are deafening!

So I did some research this morning:
SAT Average Scores Critical reading Mathematics Writing
2006 503 515 494
2011 469 469 446

So much for the laptop experiment. Should we keep paying for it?
No-No-No !!

AL PELLETIER's picture

One more thought. tonight, Good Night!

After the four or five years that this laptop program has been in place and costing us millions, is there some documented proof that our Maine High School graduates are turning in better SAT scores, more are going on to college, more are getting better paying jobs, more are make better incomes and more are staying in Maine to work.
This is what was touted as the logical reasons for the program.
Please don't give me crickets in the morning, I'd like to think my tax dollar for this brainstorm wasn't wasted.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The answer to your questions,

The answer to your questions, Al, is probably, no. However, I'd bet that many have developed an acumen for successful navigation to and around the juiciest porn sites. Just a thought.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

How about instead of putting

How about instead of putting the blame on the computers and the schools we put the blame where it belongs...on the kids and the parents? Oh wait we can't do that because then it makes everyone responsible for not watching their own kids...give me a break...computers are not the problem....the problem is parents do not parent their children any more

David  Cote's picture

Great letter, Al

Something else to consider... Who pays for maintaining and repairing these laptops if they are dropped, have liquid spilled on them or when they need to be reformatted when viruses are downloaded via questionable sites being accessed? I'm all for giving the kids the proper tools to help them learn more effectively, however all these scenarios should have been thought out with correct solutions that do not invade taxpayer's wallets.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Hey Mark,Mike and Joanne

I just had an epiphany! Why don't we let Frank, Claire and Dan pony up $100,000 each to pay for the three new computer task force detectives so that us folks who think the whole program stinks aren't footing the bill.

JOANNE MOORE's picture

This is where you lose me, Al.

It isn't the cost of the program I am averse to. I explained my reasons below.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Your president's had almost 4

Your president's had almost 4 years to get us out of there, and he promised he would, but we're still there, aren't we?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Wars begin where you will,

Wars begin where you will, but they do not end where you please.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Dan Breton

and his abstract mind strikes again. Keep with the topic, Dan.

JOANNE MOORE's picture

Wait. You brought up the topic...

paying for a program you don't like. We ALL pay taxes that include things we don't like. War is a perfect example.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Chirp, Chirp, Chirp

All I hear are crickets. Get back to laptops Joanne. Good God, I thought I had gone to bed

JOANNE MOORE's picture

I tend to agree with Al........

.......on this one. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a complete Luddite when it comes to technology, I am, after all, typing this on my computer.
BUT when former Gov. King had this brainstorm about laptops I remember thinking and I still think it is just another neo-liberal wet dream - full steam ahead and don't stop to think of the consequences. Allowing kids to bring home a laptop instead of using a computer lab setting is just asking for trouble. It benefits no one, especially the kids, to think that there is a shortcut to knowledge and wisdom. There isn't.

A computer is nothing more than a tool. It shouldn't become a crutch. It takes hard work and years of study to feel the joy of accomplishment. I think computers shortchange the kids, and many adults in this sense. And it gets people of all ages to rely on technology to solve all our problems. It can't.

Just my 2 cents worth.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Well stated. Nice to agree

Well stated. Nice to agree with you for a change. That is not an indictment of either one of us; only a refreshing observation.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

The times they are-a changin

I can't believe that in today's world, there are still people who deny the fact that computers have taken over most of our lives.
I have been to seminars where I have mingled with people who have been in this field for longer than I've been alive. Even they agree that without constant updates to their computer skills, they'll be left in the dust. Every year more and more paper is not being used, and it has nothing to do with protecting trees.
Anyone who thinks twelve years of education will be a waste due to computers, doesn't get it.
Have you noticed all the book stores closing, all the talk of closing post offices. How about the last time you were offered a discount for using paperless billing. At some point paper is going to become obsolete.
In no way do I think children shouldn't be taught to do math learn to write, learn history,geography and everything else the traditional way. I did. However times have changed. Just to get into college you need a laptop. Once in college you need computers because teachers don't accept paper anymore. Trust me. I learned these things the hard way after I retired. I went back to school and received two more degrees, and that's when laptops cost four grand.
Don't forget, we still dial the phone. Try getting an explanation of that term from most fourteen year olds, and they'll look at you like you have three heads. It doesn't hurt that much to change.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Consistent

At least we are consistent in this forum. Always put ideology before thinking or a new idea. That's how we will get ahead of the other countries who are racing ahead with new technologies in clean energy and space exploration. At least with our stone age ideology we will know where to put the commas.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Claire, What you say may

Claire,

What you say may sound good, but this Nation is broke. Presently, the Nation cannot afford green energy or space exploration, especially when the Nation is already borrowing $0.40 on the dollar. You think we are living in the Stone Age now, what until the real austerity kicks in.

 's picture

My 5 year old grandson ...

... already knows the "basics of computers". In the upcoming 12 years of public "education", whatever more he learns about computers will be canceled out, and then some, by the progressive hogwash he'll be expected to swallow.

I have a BA in Computer Science and worked 40+ years in the field, writing programs for many systems, from medical imaging to tactical radar, and much more. In the last 10 years, I was asked regularly to read resumes prior to interviewing potential employees. I lost count of the number of PHDs I saw who could not string a sentence together without several mistakes in grammar and spelling. The worst ones, by far, were those who started on the "basics of computers" in middle school.

Learning how to surf and do email qualifies you for the computer equivalent of flipping burgers. The state's laptop program does more harm than good and, following the old poker advice, we should stop throwing good money after bad.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Great post, Mike!

And coming from a pretty darn computer savvy guy, you make lots of sense. Thanks.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Computers in the classroom

I'd like to point out that when I taught students with computers, I was able to watch every keystroke they did from my computer. That was not only in my classes but when they were in the library and during study halls. It was a huge teaching advantage to be able to watch students work and be able to give instant feedback as they worked from my monitoring station. No one was looking at porn or doing email while they were in class. The most important reason to have computers in the classroom is that students need to learn how to use it as a tool for work and research because that is what they will be using it for in college and in the workplace. They already know how to use it as a toy but that doesn't mean they know how to use it for work. That's what school is for.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Claire, The operative words

Claire,
The operative words are “in the classroom”, such as in a structured computer lab. You have no control outside of the classroom.

But you need to also ask yourself, how do other countries, such as China and India, outperform us with few resrouces?

AL PELLETIER's picture

Good post there teach!

Monitor in class, the library and study halls--how about at home? Claire, I'm 65 and became fairly proficient with this laptop in two weeks at age 60. I maintain that kids should learn the 3 R's from good teachers and books, then teach them computer skills their senior year in a classroom environment and only with laptops they purchase and maintain themselves.

 's picture

Slight correction.

That's what school should be for.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

According to Frank Earley,

According to Frank Earley, surfing the internet for pornography is akin to developing general computer knowledge. I’m really disappointed that Frank sets such a low benchmark for children. Computer skills required to surf the internet are no greater than the skill set needed to surf TV stations; that level of competence sets the performance benchmark no higher than the bubble gum stuck to the bottom of my shoe.

There much more to computer competency that knowing where the power switch is located and how to download porn or copyrighted content. Moreover, we should wonder way other countries, such as those in South East Asia (Thailand, India, … etc), which have far fewer resources than the U.S., develop children that outperform U.S. children in math and science all without having a computer in the house for they cannot afford one.

Structured education in an on-campus computer lab will be more focused and far cheaper.

In my opinion, the drive to put computers in every home has more to do with the misguided notion of fairness. That is, it is not fair that some children have computers in the home and some don’t. I guess now we can teach all our children how to surf porn – how aspiring.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Mark you are so off base its comical

First of all I in no way approve of school kids surfing for porn as acceptable. I do however say it happens whether you approve or not. I have repaired hundreds of computers. I'll fill you in on a little secret, kids aren't the only ones surfing for porn. You would not believe what I found on "family" computers. I'm still trying to figure out were your coming from. Whether someone has a computer in the home has nothing to do with my point, nor does surfing for porn. My point ( which went right over your head ), is that today's kids need to be prepared for the real world. That world runs almost entirely on computers. My last job before I became disabled didn't have time cards. Everything was done on computers. when I was working in the Semi-Conductor industry, there was no such thing as pens. everything was recorded on computer. Even in college, I couldn't turn in a paper or any assignment on paper, you guessed it, floppy disc. And you still think having a computer is a status symbol only for the rich. As far as computer competency is concerned, before I lost the feeling in my fingers. I could build a computer from scratch in less than two hours. I took the time to learn to be able to compete in this world. I feel kids deserve the same chance.
One more thing, South East Asia, where do you think most components and software for computers comes from? It aint Best Buy.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I’m fully cognizant of your

I’m fully cognizant of your point of view.
That being said, I’ll stick to my assertion that a structured computer lab on the school campus will be more cost effective and more successful.

Colleges have computer labs where students can arrive and work on their assignments, so where it is convenient have a personal computer at home, it is not a necessity.

Just think of how much money is wasted in computer administration costs to remove viruses and re-image computes that children mess up by surfing unsafe sites or playing around with system setting, not to think of replacing lost or physically damaged units. Middle school and high-school aged kids are not the most responsible individuals, especially when it comes to caring for property.

A structured environment, such as an on campus computer lab, will help keep the kids focused learning those critical skills, not to mention much more cost effective for the taxpayer.

Lastly let’s explore your closing statement:
“One more thing, South East Asia, where do you think most components and software for computers comes from? It aint Best Buy.”

We are discussing educating kids to use computers. Not were computers are manufactured, but since you brought it up, let’s connect the dots together. Computers are manufactured in that part of the world because the labor is cheap. Families that make low wages are less likely to afford at-home computers and the government does not supply them, yet these people are proficient at using them. Hmm, how is that?

Conclusion: Perhaps we are teaching our kids in effectively.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"You can see boobs in

"You can see boobs in National Geographic? Why aren't we subscribing to that?" screamed the parrot.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Magazine

Dan, National Geographic Magazine can be found in libraries, news stands, waiting rooms etc. and are not purchased with my tax dollar so they can look at boobs all they want, plus I'm not paying for special cops to monitor the magazine. And your right, I don't like paying for it but, I don't have to search for a reason to justify my beliefs, Channel 13 news did the justifying for me.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Dan,

You know perfectly well what point I'm trying to make. Please don't muddy up the waters with your piddly, whimsical quips.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

You have no choise

If its going to take extra state police to solve computer crimes, or so called crimes among our school children. It only shows one thing, the kids are learning how to use computers.
Like it or not kids are going to look at areas we may find objective. since entering the manufacturing industry. I saw how important general computer knowledge is. Computers are used in every aspect of any workplace. Without at least the basics of computers, your lost. You also will not be at the top of the hiring list. Yah kids are going to be kids. In the real world their going to be prepared. Trust me its easier than having to catch up.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Edirors Note:

And apparently they're not doing a very good job of monitoring if The State Police have to hire three new detectives to try to control the situation. The report also said that no matter what kinds of filters are used the kids will find a way around them.

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