We will be footing the bill

Thank you for your article by Jessie Bonner in the Aug. 29, 2012 PR Times, regarding the Idaho Department of Education’s computers for ninth graders program and our upcoming opportunity to vote it down.

The proponents’ political doubletalk in the article is remarkable. Whether the taxpayers are forced to pay for these laptops at the local level via higher property taxes or whether we will have to pay the estimated $60 million through higher state taxes, if “the legislature has to fund them,” it will be us, not the legislators who will be footing the bill.

I attended a school board meeting in April at which the PRLHS tech department demonstrated for us what IDE Superintendent Tom Luna’s “Technology for All” (www.sde.idaho.gov/site/studentsComeFirst/docs/Daily%20Updates/1.25.11.pdf) would look like at our Priest River schools. Teenagers out of touch with reality because of their constant relationship with their cell phones are just the beginning of the Luna nightmare.

The Plan calls for preschoolers and small children to be given iPods and “iPad Touches,” connecting them to the matrix before they can read. The iPads sell themselves to these impressionable youngsters as “books.”

The child touches “I like books” and “pages” come up on the electronic device. He can choose to read aloud and it will tell him if he is correct, or he can have the iPad read to him. No need for Mom and Dad any more! The computer will do the job.

Last year GEAR UP purchased 21 iPods and iPads for the district, which plans to buy 19 more. The Luna Plan calls for 20 iPods and 10 iPads per classroom. The www.sde.idaho site reads: “Through Students Come First, we will ensure a 1:1 ratio of students to computers in high schools so teachers can incorporate more technology into the learning process… It could be any mobile computing device such as an iPad or tablet PC, like a Nook, Kindle, etc.”

The computers would all be connected to one school district tracking system. If a student or teacher wants to use his own iPad, he can log his iPad into the system, which will be under control of WBC Schools. Students can access through their smart phones, SCF laptops, or Kindles. The system’s VOIP can contact parents by name.

For the first four years, taxpayers would purchase a computer for each 9th grader, after that the computers would be replaced every 5 years, on a rotating basis – 1/5 of them per year.

This is where the extended costs come in. It is a wonderful opportunity for megacorporations like HP and Microsoft to suck at the taxpayer’s teat while producing their computers and software in China and India. The SDE site adds, “Many concerns have been raised about care of the mobile computing device. … if a student maliciously damages the device, then consequences will be considered, and the student may not be granted a new one… Parents will not be responsible for any costs associated with the device…” (emphasis added). So the taxpayers will also be responsible for replacing equipment damaged by irresponsible students.

I’m not against technology. I think students should have an opportunity to take higher education classes on line in our local schools. I just don’t think it should be mandated at my expense, with me providing everyone a new computer. I can’t even afford a new computer for myself!

I would rather my four-year-old stacked building blocks and played outside with bugs and dandelions; my eight-year-old had hands-on experience with frogs, dirt, and vegetable gardens; my high-schooler participated in political debates with his peers and learned to dance; and all my children knew that a book is something made out of paper and ink that you snuggle up with at bedtime to read with a loving relative or by a warm fire.

Whether or not it is true that snuggling up to this new technology causes DNA damage, as some research scientists from Motorola and Verizon have insisted, today’s adults and teens alike are addicted to video games, text messaging, and Smart Phones.

They no longer connect with the world around them. I heard that employers prefer not to hire people under 50 because they do not know how to relate to people face-to-face.

What will we be teaching our children with this Students Come First Plan? Is this truly where we want our tax dollars to go?

These bills will be up for a vote on the November ballot. Please, go to the website and learn the truth about the Plan, and then get out and vote.

 

Anne Wilder Chamberlain

Priest River

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