An Orange County school district’s efforts to integrate technology into students’ lives by urging families to purchase laptop computers is creating a furor among parents who say the pricey obligation is segregating their children into the haves and have-nots.
Nearly 2,000 of the Fullerton School District’s 13,000 elementary and middle-school students carry laptops between class and home as part of a year-old pilot program that expanded this year to four of the district’s 20 schools. It is one of the largest such efforts in the state.
But some parents, already bristling at the tab of public education — from classroom supplies to sports uniforms — are incensed by the need for $1,500 laptop computers.
“That’s not pocket change for anybody,” said Tina Maldonado, a stay-at-home mother with two children attending Rolling Hills Elementary School. “We could buy the computers, but I don’t think we should have to. A public school education is supposed to be free.”
Required laptops first appeared at universities, then filtered down to private schools in the 1990s. Over the last decade, such mandates have emerged at public schools nationwide, sometimes with school districts or state governments picking up the tab. Because California and many of its school districts can’t afford to furnish laptops, the requirement is rare in the state.
Efforts similar to Fullerton’s in recent years have raised similar objections. Del Mar, for instance, nixed its laptop program because of resistance from parents over the cost.
The American Civil Liberties Union said this month that it’s considering filing a lawsuit against the Fullerton School District, arguing that it is violating the state’s constitutional guarantee to provide a free education, and is creating a two-tiered learning environment.
With the number of under $1000 notebooks out there, and even at $500, the $1500 price tag does apear to be rather over priced. After all, it’s going to be out of date every 4 or 5 years. That means that for a child in the 1st grade, they could end up going through 4 laptops for their education, including their college studies. And this assumes that it is not stolen, or doused from a juice box. I can see the parents side here, but on the other hand we need to equip our youth with the tools to function in our society. I think the only solution is more inexpensive computers. How come 3rd world countries can get a computer for $100?
From the L.A. Times.