Parents Told To Pay For In-School Computers

from the pay-to-learn dept

Stories about computers in schools are nothing new at all — and neither is controversy over whether or not such programs make sense. However, one school district in California is creating a new kind of controversy — not over whether or not computers in schools are a good thing, but in how to pay for the machines. They’re asking parents to pay $500 per year for three years — which has some questioning just what a guaranteed “free education” in the public school system means for those without $1,500 to spare.

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Comments on “Parents Told To Pay For In-School Computers”

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Jay Lough says:

Re: No Subject Given

I can’t believe there are still people like you around. Don’t you realize that as a member of society you benefit from having that society be well educated? Even if you are a recluse living in a cave you obviously have an internet connection. Did you take care of building that infrastructure yourself? You read techdirt; it’s a good thing that the employees of techdirt started off with a free quality education or they may never have reached a level where they could provide you with their valuable information (for free as well).

John Dubya says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

There are actually quite a few people like him around. I know tons of them and I’m one of them. Not everyone believes that public education is that good of a thing anymore. Sure, it has historically been great, but the way it’s being hijacked for right or left leaning indoctrination and the way things other than reading, writing and arithmatic are being taught diminish the argument that public education is beneficial anymore. Ever watched Jay-Walking on Leno? My guess is that these dopes are public educated, but are still morons.

teKuru says:

Re: Re: Re: No Subject Given

I am on the fence about this one. Being a recent graduate of a public high school (class of 2000), I can see how the school would be in a situation where they wanted to provide a service to the kids, but do not have the budget for it. Although knowing this, I saw every year how our art supplies got fewer and fewer, how classes were phased out, and each time our photography classes got smaller because there wasn’t enough cameras, but all the while every sports team got brand new equipment each year, a new track laid twice while I was at the school, and going from having hall monitors to actually having TWO town police officers in the school at all times. When it came down to it, it was the creative things like arts and music which suffered, things that kids need to develop and express abstract thought, not running a piece of leather back and forth in a 100 yard box. Too much emphasis is placed on sports, and not enough on learning. I am willing to bet that if this school stopped listening to the idiots who want their kid to have a new football helmet and start listening to the parents who want new textbooks, that one day, watching Jay-Walking might actually be educational instead of appauling. Although I don’t expect much from a school system that still teaches the lies of Christopher Columbus. *Note, I played football while in high school, so please don’t think I am knocking having sports in high schools. I just think that everyone forgets that school is the “curricular” activity, sports are the “extra curricular” activity, and should be prioritised accordingly.

Michael says:

Re: Re: Re: No Subject Given

In response to the “it’s not my child” posts…

First, America is NOT well-educated as a whole. Second, our public-education system is extremely important, and it is your responsibility to fund it whether you have a child or not. The only way this country will survive the coming centuries is by raising our standards of education for all citizens. A free-market society does allow us to profit from our greed and selfishness to some degree, but it doesn’t mean we can simply neglect all social responsibility and pray economic’s “invisible hand” will guide us. It won’t. This country became what it is through passion and patriotism… through the will to build a better nation. Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost that, and people like “John Dubya” have become the norm, thinking only of themselves and not the future of our civilization. If you want to neglect your neighbors in favor of your own selfish interests, then go found your own damned country. If you want to be an American, then sacrifice a little and help education our children. ALL OF THEM.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not supporting communal beliefs. Robinhood was kind-hearted but could never have run a nation. But the education of our child effects all of us, and providing it is one of the most important responsibilities of our government, and hence of you and I, whether we have children or not.

Rikko says:

Re: Re: Re:2 No Subject Given

Typical middle-class, overprivileged nonsense.

I agree – you aren’t using the schools, so let the parents pay for it!
Also, I don’t use the bus! I’m tired of subsidizing it! Hike bus fares to the $10 or so it would require to keep that intrastructure running!
Do you have a pothole in the middle of your street? Why do I give a shit? I don’t drive there. Fix it yourself!
Why should I have to pay taxes to support fire or police services? My house has never had a fire and I’ve never been a victim of crime – I’d rather take my chances and play the odds.
Actually, I changed my mind, I *do* take the bus – I don’t want any of my tax dollars paying for any road infrastructure that isn’t on MY bus route. I also don’t want to have to pay the drivers on other routes, or for maintenance for their buses. My route is plenty busy all the time, so I should have to pay less than people on less-busy routes. Oh, I also only take the bus for 2 hours each day, so I only want to pay for it to be running those 2 hours.

ME, ME, ME, ME, ME. Listen to yourselves. It’s pathetic. We’re all in this together.

How does the saying go? It takes a village to raise a child, but excess freedoms to raise a village idiot?

Mrbill says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

I can’t believe you think our society is well-educated. Where did you ever get that idea? You would have to be a recluse living in a cave to think such a ridiculous thought. Do you not watch television? Do you not read the news? Do you not realize who the president of the US of A is? People in general are more ignorant than ever, especially is the US. Only in the US would a christian neocon concept like ID be approved by a supposedly “well educated” state board of education. At some point the educating of children in basic math, reading and comprehension skills, and true science in our public schools took a back seat to politics, political correctness, and entertainment. If this results in what you call a well educated society, you’re welcome to it, and welcome to pay for it.

John Doh says:

Re: Re: Re: No Subject Given

While society may not be very well educated, at least most of us still “get out” into society and see what is really going on. I would assert that television, newspapers, magazines, and the internet propogate more lies than the entire public education system, nation wide; however, there is no good way to test such an hypothesis.

Instead of complaining about “breeders” as you did in your other post, maybe you should make something of your life and get out and help make your local school system better. Misers, such as yourself, that think that everyone should pay their own way, regardless of their circumstances, are the ones that only make the situation worse.

MacTech says:

Re: No Subject Given

Hmm, I think there are quite a few of us that made it through school with out a computer, or even a scientific calculator. How about we stretch out how long a computer stays in circulation, and not have to have a new one every three years due to a contractual agreement made by the government and the companny supplying the cpu’s


Yaron says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

But for some reason the article claims they want Apple iBook G4 for the kids.
Not the cheapest selection by far, and I’m not sure exactly what was the procedure used to decide that this was the best laptop brand for these kids.

In any case, Apple sells this on their site (the model with the 14″ display and 1.4GHz CPU) for about 1300$ (or a model with 12″ and 1.3GHz for 1000$, but… )

So if they buy the expensive model, don’t get any discounts for the amount of computers, and don’t buy it from anyone else, this comes out about right. Assuming they take a loan on the money to be repaid with the yearly deposits, with an amazing interest rate of 16%, that is…

Brewski says:

Re: Re: Re: 1 times 1 is 1

> So if they buy the expensive model, don’t get any discounts for the amount of computers, and don’t buy it from anyone else, this comes out about right. Assuming they take a loan on the money to be repaid with the yearly deposits, with an amazing interest rate of 16%, that is…

>$500 for 3 years? That’s insane, my little Sister just got a widescreen Sony laptop for Christmas with a gig of RAM and it only cost $700.

For those doing the math and thinking this is a very expensive $1500 computer, you’re not including the infrastructure required to connect and manage all these CPU’s, plus whatever software is required for education. Oh, and probably printers and other peripherals, too.

On the subtraction side, I doubt very much that the $1500 per year per student is for ONE computer for that student which makes me think someone (an Apple VAR?) is making some bucks on this deal.

p.s. I are a public skool graduite. 🙂

Mrbill says:

free education?

I agree that Breeders should have to pay all of the education costs for their broods. As the first poster said, they aren’t my brats. Whatever happened to personal responsibility for your actions? You make the kids, you pay for all of their costs. Those of us that choose not to have children shouldn’t have to foot the bill for those that do. If a parent cannot afford all of the costs that may be asked of them these days, such as a $1500 computer, then don’t enroll your kids in classes that require it. If all classes require it, put your kid in a school that doesn’t instead of bitching about the lack of a “free lunch”. If parents had to pay for all of the costs of having a child, then maybe they wouldn’t have as many or any at all. For those without means that still do have kids, teach them to count change and ask “Would you like fries with that?”

Dosquatch says:

Re: free education?

[SMACKUPSIDETHEHEAD] Hey, remember that you, too, were somebody’s brat. (nevermind that you still seem to be). Try this – every time you feel inclined to complain about your taxes paying for school for their “brats”, remember that those same kids are going to be paying for your “medicare” and “social security”.

Mrbill says:

Re: Re: free education?

I shudder to think that anyone is going to rely on todays youth to take care of them in their old age. If you plan on doing so I wish you good luck. Those of us with any foresight will have sizeable personal retirement accounts, and not have to rely on todays youth putting money in to social entitlement programs like medicare and social security.

As far as being someones brat goes, yes I was at one time. However, when I was in school, both my parents and the school system taught me to be responsible for my actions and gave me the realization there is no such thing as a “free lunch”. It seems that today the public k-12 school system in general is more of a glorified baby-sitting service than a place to send kids to get a decent education let alone teach them personal responsibilty, and as more and more parents seem to have an entitlement attitude, it’s unlikely children are receiving this message at home either.

marek says:

Re: Re: Re: free education?

And what is Mrbill going to spend his personal retirement account on? Goods and services after he has stopped working? And who is going to provide those goods and services? We all have a very direct interest in educating the next generation – and arguably those without children should pay more, not less, towards doing so.
Parents incur massive costs (that’s a fact, not a value statement) for which we can assume they see benefits (otherwise a lot fewer would become parents), but there are major external benefits, including to those who don’t have children. Basic economics suggests that to get the “right” number of children with the “right” level of education, those who get the external benefits should pay some of the costs.

Dosquatch says:

Re: Re: Re: free education?

I shudder to think that anyone is going to rely on todays youth to take care of them in their old age
Your parents and grandparents said the same thing about you and your peers. My parents and grandparents said the same thing about me and my peers. We’ve turned out alright. Have faith!
Those of us with any foresight will have sizeable personal retirement accounts […]
Yes, saving money on your own is a good idea. No, relying on SS exclusively is not. The wisdom, merits, mismanagement, and future of the SS system are a completely different rant. The point was, as long as it’s there, it will be funded… and when is the last time the fed closed a department, no matter how fubared?
It seems that today the public k-12 school system in general is more of a glorified baby-sitting service than a place to send kids to get a decent education let alone teach them personal responsibilty […]
First, credit where credit is due. The school system is not nearly so mangled as you seem to believe. The schools do the best they can with what they’re given. This is not to say that there is nothing wrong – there is plenty to criticize, but let’s place blame where it belongs, hmm? Many (if not most) teachers have just as much of a disliking of the current curriculum as you seem to, and would love nothing better than a return to a more lean and mean teaching of core subjects. Just trust me on this. The problem is, for a school to run, it must have funding (that’s “money”) to pay for buildings, utilities, salaries, equipment, textbooks, etc**. It’s expensive. The state picks up a good chunk of the bill, but the Fed offers money as well. Money in amounts that the states can’t afford to ignore. Money with strings attached. Strings pulled by the same Congress Critters that give us nonsense like the Patriot Act and the DMCA… they write legislation that sounds like a good idea, but has ugly side effects.
You have outlets for your concerns. Join the PTA. Write your Congress Critter. Volunteer in school programs. Attend school board meetings. Do something.
Or, sit there, say all schools suck and dismiss the kids as brats.
** – my school district – 21 schools + SBO (22). ~200 computers per location @ $600ea ($2,640,000) + periphials (printers, scanners, etc. – another mil) + all of the networking equipment (another mil) + connectivity between locations (god knows). ~100 employees per * salary * 22 ($60-70 mil). ~1100 students per (24000-25000). Textbooks for the students – figure 5 each @ $90 ($11 mil). Plus utilities (and you complain about heating your house). Plus busses, and the fuel to run them, and the mechanics to work on them, and so on and so forth. Figure about $100,000,000/yr to teach the students in my county – it works out to about $4,000 per student. I think the schools do a damned impressive job for the money spent. Feel free to disagree. Feel even more free to suggest a better way to raise $100,000,000 a year.

Anonymous of course says:

Re: Re: Re:2 free education?

I pay a lot of property taxes to fund public education, but I’m not complaining. I do question the necessity of a computer om the grade school.
I do not believe that our schools are doing the best
that they can in teaching the basic skills. In general, they do not teach students how to think for themselves, use a library for research or proper ettiquette. I sometimes find bored teachers
teaching things that they find interesting not
what’s most beneficial for the students.
Yeah, I understand, the basics are boring.
Sorry, that’s the breaks. So I question the utility of computers at this time given the
extent of the educational software I’m aware of.

JD says:

Re: Re: Re:2 free education?

There’s no good reason the schools have to be so damn poor. I’m a programmer that makes a pretty good living, but I didn’t have a computer until I was 19 (that’s AFTER high school was over… Im’ 32 now). Our school had one computer room with 16 Apple IIe computers in it. I think if you are in your mid 30s or older you’ve got a similar experience, or you didn’t have computers in your school at all. So why now do we think we need to spend all this friggin money on computers? Why don’t we spend it on teacher’s and books and paper and all the crap the schools keep asking us parents to buy and just teach them real stuff. If the schools would stop spending money on “Happiness Counselors” and new uniforms and extra track equipment and $20,000 atomic clocks (a high school here in MN bought some sort of uber accurate NIST clock so the teachers could talk about it once per trimester) perhaps they’d have enough money to teach. We just sure as hell don’t NEED laptops or other computers for kids if it’s going to cause the essentials to be dropped.

JD says:

Re: Re: Re:3 free education?

Oh yeah, and if you’re going to argue “See, you had computers at your school, that gave you an advantage, blah blah”. Read it again, 16 apple IIe computers amoung 1000+ students. There was no google, no internet, no windows…nothing from the IIe am I using now. So it didn’t matter that there are computers.

Lerble says:

Re: Re: free education?

Hey, remember that you, too, were somebody’s brat. (nevermind that you still seem to be). Try this – every time you feel inclined to complain about your taxes paying for school for their “brats”, remember that those same kids are going to be paying for your “medicare” and “social security”.
And that, in a nutshell, is the problem with socialism.

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

I agree that $1500 is a lot to ask. But schools in California are cash-strapped. I hear they are short on teachers, yet I see districts laying them off. I used to date a teacher, and she had to pay for her own supplies for science labs.

Although, as I said, $1500 is a lot, this just reminds me of what I see a lot in California. People want everything but are unwilling to pay for anything. They want tax cuts, yet cry when public services are cut. Sorry, but someone has to pay.

randdickson says:

Pay your way.

Let them buy their own computers and bring them to school. In today’s techno society, caring for your computer should be part of your basic education. Might make for less ‘idiots’ in the future who download every piece of spyware or open a virus in an unknown e-mail.

Having your homework eaten by a microsoft word virus and getting an ‘F’ might make you a bit more more responsble in the future instead of dumping the computer on the IT department and bitching about it.

And yeah, I don’t want to pay for other people’s kids either.

Geoff says:

Nothing New

This is typical in California, the public elementary school I attended there (in suburbs of S.F.) asked that parents ‘donate’ $200 a year for supplies, as well as requiring students to bring in boxes of tissues, crayons at the beginning of the year for class use. This was in a pretty well off area so it was not a problem for most, but it was just asked, and if parents couldn’t afford it they did not have to.

Bob says:


The school has no authority to require such a purchase as part of a child’s education. Poor and economically disadvantaged families are immediately excluded from such programs, or at the cost of revealing information the school system has no right to posess.

This is a lawsuit. I’m sure a judge would agree, a textbook is a reasonable purchase as an aid to education, a laptop is not.

The decision to exclude based on financial ability is simply inappropriate, and is not part of the mission of our public education system. The superintendent ought to have his credentials reviewed and his authority re-evalutated, as he may not understand this mission, hence possibly may not be the best candidate for this position. A review of personal financial records would also indicate whether or not he may have a secondary interest in this program.

Sadly, what will most likely happen is parents will sue and likely win, the taxpayers will have to foot the bill, and the attorneys will run with the money. All because of the errant decision of one superintendent who ought to be sued outright, instead of the school system, and foot the bills of this legal mess for everyone.

James Grimes (user link) says:


If education is supposed to be free, how can California charge parents money for there children to attend school? I have always had a problem going to school in Harnett County, North Carolina having to pay $5 each year as a basic student fee (I had no problem with fees for the extracurricular activities) even though my parents could apply for a waiver if they felt it would be a “burden” to pay it, or any other fee the school system charged (to include lunch and breakfast). Aren’t these fees illegal if education is supposed to be guaranteed free to all?

Andrew Calcutt says:

No Subject Given

I work at a college that requires laptops. the students are charged 1300 for a dell d600(which is a deal price to go though the school program)

If they buy the d600/d610 they get free support(untill the 3 year warrenty is up) and we repair hardware problems ourselfs(we are dell certified so the ship us parts directly). If they don’t buy a supported laptop we charge $25 to fix it and will only reapir software issues(and by policy we cant reinstall…if we cant fix it…thats it…we give it back and tell them what needs to be done)

I work to repair spyware/virus/os/hardware problems and usually we at least get a least 10-25 computers a day.

If they are including support then $1500 isn’t that bad, but, do they really need such an expensive laptop? they are in gradeschool…I dont really see a laptop being that benificial in that grade


Also..people compaining about paying for education is stupid. It benifits everyone.
If you think people are stupid now(which is not something I beleive),just imagin if they got no education at all. what do you think would happen to society? we definatly wouldn’t make any progress and it would kill our future

I graduated 2 years ago from a public trade school. along with my normal math, english, and science I was also trained in Electronics. I beleive I was given the best education possible, but the school was underfunded. If it wasn’t for my teachers paying for things out of their own pocket then my education would not have been as good (my electronics teacher bought many of our parts for our circuits)

Along the computer lines my school was behind, we were using 100-233mhz computers in shop (my shop teacher was extreamly grateful when I got 700mhz computers donated from the college I work for). Those computers were needed for circuit simulations, programing, and training and were very important to our education

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