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Alabama Schools to be First in US to Get XO Laptop 334

Posted by Zonk
from the educatin-on-the-cheap dept.
CountryGeek passed us a link to a story in the Birmingham News, saying that schools in the Alabama city will be the first US students to make use of the XO laptop. The piece touches on a bit of the project's history, and seems to indicate the Birmingham school district is ready to make a serious commitment to these devices. "Langford has asked the City Council to approve $7 million for the laptops and a scholarship program that would give Birmingham students with a C average or above a scholarship to college or tech school of their choice. The City Council has not yet approved the funding. The rugged, waterproof computers will be distributed to students on April 15, Langford said, and children will be allowed to take them home. If a computer is lost, the school system can disable it, rendering it useless, Langford said. Students will turn in their computers at the end of their eighth-grade year."
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Alabama Schools to be First in US to Get XO Laptop

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  • Alabama? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Corporate Troll (537873) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @12:23PM (#21572713) Homepage Journal
    Alabama you say? That's entirely natural. After all they were supposed to be for the third world... ;-)
    • Re:Alabama? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Seakip18 (1106315) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @12:38PM (#21572945) Journal
      Puh lease. Alabama is hands and arms above, oh say, it's next door neighbor, Mississippi and Florida. There is a *reason* Fark has the Florida Tag.

      Seriously though, you wanna see some of the worst parts of the country, go to the Delta areas of MS and some counties in AL. Poverty, STDs, teen pregnancy, HS graduation/college acceptance rates, life expectancies are among the worst in the nation. Do you think it's right to just ignore these areas for any sort of advancement?

      The former Gov. of Mississippi, William Winter, put it best when endorsing the need for higher education in MS- "We can either compete with the other 49 states for jobs or we can do nothing and compete with China and Mexico."
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by JavaLord (680960)
        go to the Delta areas of MS and some counties in AL. Poverty, STDs, teen pregnancy, HS graduation/college acceptance rates, life expectancies are among the worst in the nation. Do you think it's right to just ignore these areas for any sort of advancement?

        I'd bet you can find similar rates in Newark, NJ which isn't far from me and is very urban.

        Although people like to generalize about the southern states having substandard schooling, I'm sure there are communities in every state that could use some he
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by lib3rtarian (1050840)
          Well, you bet wrong. Newark is doing much better these days that it has historically, although it is still the car theft capital of the world. However, it is not rural, it is extremely diverse, and is a short train ride to NYC. It is also home to one of the finest institutions in the world (Rutgers).
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I live in the Delta and this guy is right. The schools around here have a 15% percent literacy rate and poverty rates among children are well over 50%.

        The real question is will XO laptops help turn that around?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by seven of five (578993)
        "We can either compete with the other 49 states for jobs or we can do nothing and compete with China and Mexico."

        errr... the other 49 states are competing for jobs with China and Mexico....
      • by puto (533470) *
        Fark has a Florida time, besides the stories out of Florida, because Fark was originated in Florida.

        Please be advised that most people here in Florida that rate the Florida tag are first and second gen people from up north who come here for the weather, or finish out a parole sentence in a warm climate. OR with the assumption it is easy to scam people in the south, or that becase we live below the mason dixon, we are not as smart as our northern brethern.

        Alabama is a hole but has a few good unis as well.

        I
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by cluckshot (658931)

      Cut the troll crap! Alabama is not a third world country though I must admit that Birmingham City is not Alabama's finest and brightest.

      I live in Alabama. Nobody ever went to the moon without going to my home town first! We are the people who invented the "Green Revolution" that feeds the world. We are the ones who gave the world many amazing medical advances and we are the ones who have some of the finest and brightest the world has. Alabama is a fine state and isn't even the 49th out of 50 economical

  • by 4solarisinfo (941037) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @12:25PM (#21572743)
    I don't recall OLPC allowing any of these things in the US, it was starting strictly in 3rd world countries wasn't it?
    • it was starting strictly in 3rd world countries wasn't it?
      It's Alabama... :P sorry couldn't resist
    • by liquidpele (663430) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @12:39PM (#21572949) Journal
      Why wouldn't they?
      Maybe I'm confused, but from my understanding they need a lot of orders to fill mass-production needs, so why not? It's not like the school system is going to turn around and sell them on ebay for profit or something.
    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @12:42PM (#21573009)

      I don't recall OLPC allowing any of these things in the US, it was starting strictly in 3rd world countries wasn't it?


      Developing countries have been the focus, but the project has never ruled out working with school authorities anywhere in the world. What they ruled out was mass retail sale in developed countries as an early focus.

      OTOH, there is a break from the earlier articulations of the principles of the project here, and its not in the fact that its in a developed country, its in the "Students will turn in their computers at the end of their eighth-grade year" part.
      • by Billosaur (927319) *

        Also, OLPC initiated the "Buy 1, 1 Gets Donated" program in time for the holiday season, so it would be possible for an American school district to shell out $200 a copy for them and thereby send an equivalent number to under-developed countries.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by nine-times (778537)

      I don't know exactly what the deal is, but I don't see why they wouldn't allow it in Alabama. Scaling production up would allow the laptops to be cheaper. And besides, Alabama is almost like a 3rd world country.

      Seriously, though, if the purpose is to build a laptop for children who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford a computer, there are enough poor kids in Alabama (or elsewhere in the US) for whom this project makes sense. Having some kind of access to computing is great for education, and I don't se

  • C average (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @12:29PM (#21572799)
    I thought a C meant that you were doing exactly the work that's expected of you (aka, Average). So now they're going to award scholarships for performing like you should? Crazy!
    • Re:C average (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dryueh (531302) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @12:33PM (#21572881)
      I think the point is to encourage all students to consider post-secondary education, whether that's college or tech school. It's a fine idea -- I imagine that 'C' performers, in many areas, are seldomly encouraged to go on with their education/training after HS graduation.
      • by snl2587 (1177409)

        Good point. Some kids just need a chance to leave the backgrounds they came from to really develop, and a scholarship like this would do just that. When the best any family member has done is graduate high school, a C+ average might be very good.

        The being said, a scholarship like this wouldn't be a appropriate for, say, a private school district in the Hamptons

        • by davidsyes (765062)
          Somebody wants those kids to get not a C, nor a C+, but a C++, and they want them to be not A#, but C#.

          Either that, or someone wants to find future recidivists early...
    • No joke, C average is pretty bottom line in middle and high school. B average should be the cutoff point.
    • by tompaulco (629533)
      A C is supposed to be what is expected of the average student, but when I was in school, if you got a C, you were thought of as a below average student. I think relatively few people ever actually got Cs. There were a few straight A people (of which I was not one because there was always one teacher a year who would give me a B), then there were probably 70% of the population which got As and Bs, and then there were your 10 or 20% that got D's and Fs, which dragged the average grade down to a C, but very fe
        1. The average grade varies from school to school.
        2. What you think the average grade in your school is might be quite far off the mark. You're probably judging that off those students that you know, but there's a selection bias at work there. I taught for several years at the same high school that I graduated from. I realized that the impression I had of the school as a student was quite different from the impression I got as a teacher. If you attended a school with less than 500 students, that might not apply
  • No they're not... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_skywise (189793) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @12:29PM (#21572805)
    What part of: "The City Council has not yet approved the funding." = "schools in the Alabama city will be the first US students to make use of the XO laptop."
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by scubamage (727538)
      Given the article I believe the statement was about the scholarship, not the purchase of the laptops.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by barocco (1168573)
      "The City Council has not yet approved the funding." => Slashdot space-time continuum distorter(TM) => "schools in the Alabama city will be the first US students to make use of the XO laptop." There, fixed.
  • C average? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @12:30PM (#21572817) Homepage
    The opening up of the university system to all and sundry has already lowered standards and resulted in grade inflation. Just compare the rigour of an undergraduate education a half-century ago to the situation now where anyone (even me) can breeze through four years without a challenge. Is paying for college for people with a C-average instead of directing them towards only vocational training--as in many other Western countries--a good idea?
    • by scubamage (727538)
      Ah yes, because the "head start" program and "No Child Left Behind" have done any better. At least with this program kids who otherwise would have no way to go to college have the choice to go.
    • Is paying for college for people with a C-average instead of directing them towards only vocational training--as in many other Western countries--a good idea?

      Scholarships offered independently of the school don't guarantee admission, and the scholarships are for any college or technical school. So, even granting, for the sake of argument, that broadening admission criteria is potentially harmful, that's irrelevant to what is going on here.

      Unless, of course, you think that with the same grades and other perf

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dan Ost (415913)

        Unless, of course, you think that with the same grades and other performance measures, people who are poor should be kept out of college in favor of those who are rich.

        My own experience, as a kid coming from a poor family but with excellent grades and test scores, getting financial aid was super simple. It's the kids who have good, but not great, grades/scores that have trouble. Top schools compete for top students and will bend over backwards to ensure the top students have the means to attend. There are enough good students out there that the top schools don't have to compete for them.

        Of course, a good student at a non-top school can very often be one of the top studen

        • My own experience, as a kid coming from a poor family but with excellent grades and test scores, getting financial aid was super simple. My own experience, as a kid coming from a poor family but with excellent grades and test scores, getting financial aid was super simple. It's the kids who have good, but not great, grades/scores that have trouble.

          Yeah, I'd agree that they'll be the big beneficiaries.

          Of course, a good student at a non-top school can very often be one of the top students at that school and q

        • My own experience, as a kid coming from a poor family but with excellent grades and test scores, getting financial aid was super simple.
          The situation may have changed. Is it still easy to get a student loan even now, with the credit crunch after the housing bubble [wikipedia.org]?
    • Re:C average? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jdunn14 (455930) <jdunn@igTOKYOuanaworks.net minus city> on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @12:47PM (#21573101) Homepage
      No, and we're doing them any favors by pushing everyone through high school regardless of ability either. My mother works at a community college, and the number of kids that have to go straight into remedial english and math is appalling. But we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings... no, it's better to let the real world do that. Then there's no one that can be pointed to as "the problem".

      Here's something else I don't understand. What is this country's aversion to vocational schools/training? We as a society seem to look down on such training, but I'll gladly pay someone many tens of dollars per hour to make my car go, make my AC work, fix plumbing, rewire my house, add an addition to the dwelling, etc. There is nothing wrong with this. You don't like school, but think cars are fun? Hello mechanic work. It just seems silly, these people are as important to our economy and every day life as the surgeons.
      • Our aversion to vocational training comes from a bunch of elitist snobs who are in denial about being elitist snobs. If you listen to them, they'll claim the idea that "not everyone should go to college" is elitist, exclusionary, and bigoted. Inherent in those claims are the belief that you *must* go to college in order to be a decent human being, and that anyone who opposes a 100% enrollment in college only does so in order to keep everyone else "down".

        It's a foreign idea to these people to consider tha

        • Re:C average? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Fred Ferrigno (122319) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @02:03PM (#21574327)
          Personally, I don't draw a distinction between vocational training and college. College is a sort of vocational training for most people. So if you were to ask me if 100% of people should engage in some sort of post-secondary career education, I would say yes. Maybe that means grad school. Maybe that means an apprenticeship in the pipe-fitters' union. Society as a whole is better off when everyone is better educated in their field.
      • by tompaulco (629533)
        In my state (Oklahoma), or at least in my County, public schools are funded out of property taxes. This is fairly common. What is somewhat progressive, I think, is that a portion of property taxes also goes to support your closest vocational school, technical school, or junior college. Depending on income, some people can go through these schools and get an associates degree for free. My sister, who had been delivering pizzas, got an associates in CAD for next to nothing, and is now working at much higher
    • Absolutely, if grades are going up it must mean that exams are getting easier, it absolutly cannot mean that teaching methods are getting better or students are studying harder. You can tell in a similar way that the mile has got shorter in the last 50 years ago. Way back when, absolutly nobody could run it in under 4 minutes, but these days lots of people can do it. People have defnintly not improved their training techniques. They really ought to adjust measuring equipment to allow for this shorter mile,
      • by CRCulver (715279)

        Absolutely, if grades are going up it must mean that exams are getting easier, it absolutly cannot mean that teaching methods are getting better or students are studying harder.

        I read Classics as an undergraduate. Fifty years ago, students had to be able to read Latin and Greek texts without prior experience with them (unseens), compose fluently in Latin, and be able to quote a least some poetry. Now, all they need to know is some basic morphology, translate passages they've already been able to work out

        • And... who is going to be helped by being able to quote poetry?

          Not that there's anything wrong with poetry, I just don't see how me not being able to quote Robert Frost means that my college is shitty.

          • by CRCulver (715279)
            If your university promises to train you in something, and then doesn't, wouldn't you conclude that there was something wrong with the university? Classics departments promise to initiate students into the tradition of Greek, Latin, and ancient history studies, but their ability to do so grows less with each passing year. And don't claim "Oh, it's useless anyway". Lots of fields in the humanities seem of little value to any given person, but what we are discussing here is the changing expectations in the fi
        • Or, possibly, the classics are no longer seen as important. I did Latin up to age 14 (1996), and was expected in the exam at the end of each year to translate passages I hadn't seen before and perform reading comprehension exercises on others. Out of my year group of around 100, I believe three went on to do Latin at GCSE and none at A-Level. In the entire country, I think only 100 or so did GCSE Ancient Greek in my year. My school had two teachers who were qualified to teach ancient Greek, but they had

        • by timeOday (582209)

          I read Classics as an undergraduate. Fifty years ago, students had to be able to read Latin and Greek texts without prior experience with them (unseens), compose fluently in Latin, and be able to quote a least some poetry... There is little disagreement among Classicists over falling language standards. I'm sure the same problem exists in other fields.

          I'm not so sure the same problem exists in other fields; people have simply turned away from classicism towards more economically productive studies. Is th

    • If you take any science related major you will be learning material in your undergrad studies that didn't exist 50 years ago. How can you compare the two?
    • by couchslug (175151)
      "Is paying for college for people with a C-average instead of directing them towards only vocational training--as in many other Western countries--a good idea?"

      Only if you want to continue to use the trade schools as a dumping ground...
      There is good money in the trades, but our society despises them so we chase potential talent away from learning about them.
  • Waste of money (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gasmonso (929871)

    Why on Earth do grade school students need to be issued a laptop? Early education should be about learning the basics. I remember not being able to use a calculator even in college Calculus classes as the professor thought it made people lazy and dependent on them. I do agree that schools should have computers, but every student?!?! Computer labs work just fine and cost a lot less than issuing every kid a computer.

    gasmonso http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SirGarlon (845873)
      I have not even heard a convincing argument of why young children need to use computers. What can a 10-year-old learn on a computer that A) actually needs to be taught in elementary school (as opposed to high school) and B) actually requires the computer to be taught effectively. Given child labor laws, the "need computer skills for the workplace" argument does not hold up in my opinion (for high school, sure, not not elementary school!)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nine-times (778537)

        I can't decide whether or not I agree with you. On the one hand, I have no difficulty imagining how computers could hinder education rather than help. People have a tendency to think that our education problem with somehow magically be solved if you just throw computers at the problem, when in fact the most important thing children can get is personal attention from parents and teachers.

        On the other hand, our society (and economy) are becoming increasingly dependent on computers. Children who grow up wi

      • You to realize that computers are good for things other than "learning computer skills", right?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dan Ost (415913)
        Interacting with a computer is one of the fastest ways to become literate.

        If you're literate, you can teach yourself anything you can find a source for.

        If this computer can teach kids to read and write while they're having fun with it, that, by itself, justifies putting it in their hands. Anything else it can teach them is a bonus.
      • I am currently earning a living as a freelance writer. Until I was around 14, my English grades were consistently around the C mark, with very few above a B-. Then, at GCSE, I was allowed to use a computer for essays. Suddenly my average shot up to an A with a lot of A* grades. I write more with a keyboard in an average day than I do with a pen in a year. If I had been able to type essays from an earlier age I would have gained a lot more from English lessons than I did. Instead of learning how to use

    • No, computer labs are horrible. It takes 10 minutes to get there, 10 minutes back, you loose almost half of the period. Not to mention a lot of states/counties mandate that kids spend X amount of time per week using program Y on a computer. If the program ran on one of these, it would be a *dream* for teachers (or at least my wife).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Why on Earth do grade school students need to be issued a laptop?

      Isn't this a tired old argument already? I thought we had established what a useful tool that a personal computer had become for education. As a student from a rural area with limited educational resources, I can say from first hand experience with distance learning and paperless courses that PC's are becoming almost essential to education at the higher level. A good part of grade school education is priming children for the whole educational
    • by Loosifur (954968)
      I agree to a certain extent. My girlfriend teaches elementary school, and one of her students who has severe ADHD was offered access to a computer to type answers to quizzes, assigments, etc. My girlfriend pointed out that a kid who couldn't be asked a question at a reading table and then told to go to his seat and write his answer without losing track of what he was doing wouldn't be best served by having to go to a separate table, log in, start Word, and type his response. The County, however, likes to se
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Compholio (770966)

      I remember not being able to use a calculator even in college Calculus classes as the professor thought it made people lazy and dependent on them.
      I had a Physics class where we were able to use Mathematica on some of our exams. Another school of thought says "your brain is only so big: use it for things that matter."
      • by vivek7006 (585218)
        your brain is only so big: use it for things that matter

        Brain may be only so big, but mind is infinite.
    • Re:Waste of money (Score:5, Informative)

      by KE1LR (206175) <ken,hoover&gmail,com> on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @12:53PM (#21573205) Homepage
      There are a ton of kids in Maine [maine.gov] who have spent the last few years proving this assumption -- that young kids don't learn anything useful on computers -- is wrong. Their program gave Powerbooks to all middle-school students and has produced remarkable results. It was recently renewed by the state legislature and is being expanded to additional grades with state $$, which is no small feat in a state under a lot of budget pressure. See link for published studies, etc. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Maine decided to go for OLPC's for the younger-then-middle-school set.

      The primary problem in Maine's one-powerbook-per-child program has has come from backwards teachers like your Calc prof who won't adapt their teaching to the new technology.
      • by pcgamez (40751)
        I skimmed the full report and it would appear that the writers are making assumptions. There is an assumption that the presence of laptops is what has lead to increased standardized test scores. This ignores the dozens of major changes that have been taking place in education over the last decade.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bcrowell (177657)

        Not all schools that are doing laptops are doing it with tax dollars. There are two public elementary schools in my neighborhood in Fullerton, CA. One of them (not the one my kids go to, thank god) tried to require every student to buy a laptop. A lawsuit resulted, and AFAIK the plan has not been implemented, but there are other schools that are trying the same thing.

        Personally, I didn't mind buying $200 Linux desktop boxes for my kids, but standard laptops are a ridiculously bad choice for young kids.

    • First off, I don't agree with the expense, but the rationale is more than just the direct utility of a laptop for school work. It's also about familiarizing kids with computers over everyday contact with them that you can't get from limited exposure at school during allotted times. I worked in a high school as a computer lab monitor for a couple years and almost all of the kids in the computer classes were really only different in that they were from affluent families that had access to computers. These

    • I remember not being able to use a calculator even in college Calculus classes as the professor thought it made people lazy and dependent on them

      In my job I use routinely computers for things like solving differential equations. I know the basics on how this works. I know how algorithms like Runge-Kutta, Adams-Moulton, Bulirsch-Stoer, etc, work. However, I have never done these calculations by hand. What would be the point in that?

      What students need to learn is how to get results from the calculations, the

    • Re:Waste of money (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Smidge204 (605297) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @01:41PM (#21573975) Journal
      I agree that, to a very large level, it is well-intentioned buy wasteful spending to cram computers into every classroom. I've personally been witness to hundreds of millions of dollar's worth of "network infrastructure upgrades" across several school districts, and it's a damn shame because nobody uses it. (Special "clean" power for computers installed in raceways with special orange outlets, 4 per workstation? The teacher plugged her mini fridge and coffee pot into one and used a chain of surge protectors from a normal wall outlet for the computers...)

      Anyway, while a bit of a daydream I can see a potential at least.

      1) The laptop as a replacement for textbooks. Able to be updated and searched. Also, carrying around one XO laptop is better than managing a half dozen books, and if the computers get recycled after 8th grade then the long term costs could level out.

      2) It allows a student to keep more organized. Notes and assignments could be kept on the device and mirrored at a school or even district level server (the XO supports handwriting input). No more "forgetting your homework" since everything is in the computer. ("What happens if the student leaves it home" argument is irrelevant since that applies to notebooks too). Update school announcements and calendar events.

      3) Media distribution to students. Imagine those typically boring films you had to watch, only being able to pause and rewind at your leisure and even take it home to study. Audio and video recordings/pictures from field trips or lessons. Combine this with those digital whiteboards and stream the info right to the laptops (already done in some places). A student could potentially take an entire day's worth of lessons home and replay them. Unit supports USB and wireless so storage isn't much of an issue on or off school grounds.

      4) Parental monitoring. With the ability to record a log of daily use, if not entire lessons, the parents will have a better understanding of what goes on in the classroom (for better or worse). This assumes the parent actually bothers to access the laptop and check, of course, but it makes possible what is currently impossible or at least wildly impractical.

      5) Electronic grading. With the ability to distribute and collect most assignments digitally, the entire process becomes simpler. One copy of an assignment can be distributed to any number of students and they can be submitted as soon as they are complete (cutoff times/due dates are easily implemented). Records of grades are easily maintained and accessed. Plagiarism is easier to detect using DIFF-like utilities, and I'd even support some kind of DRM-esque scheme to help detect or even prevent (something that is difficult to do with paper). Tests can be administered by providing a collection of questions that are presented in a different order for each student, with randomized answers for multiple-guess type exams. Beats scan-trons and makes cheating nearly impossible.

      Again, all pure daydreaming on my part. None of this gets in the way of teaching the basics either, which I agree is most important. $200 per student seems a better deal than central labs, too. I've seen initiatives that have 1 computer for every 5 students, which is also about right for a computer lab since only one class can use it at a time. If the backend stuff is more or less the same, you can get five to ten $200 laptops for the cost of a single, normal desktop workstation - pretty significant savings - and each student has access all day.
      =Smidge=
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DamnStupidElf (649844)
        1) The laptop as a replacement for textbooks. Able to be updated and searched. Also, carrying around one XO laptop is better than managing a half dozen books, and if the computers get recycled after 8th grade then the long term costs could level out.

        If grade school textbooks are anything like college textbooks, an XO is worth about two or three textbooks. That's pretty amazing when you consider that every student takes about 8 classes per year. Using open textbooks could *save* money if the schools bough
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AeroIllini (726211)
      Standard paper textbooks
      - Math: $100
      - History: $100
      - Language: $100
      - Social Studies: $100
      - Additional computers (per student): $50 (assuming student:machine ratio of 16 and an $800 Dell machine)
      Total: $400

      XO Laptop
      - Laptop: $100
      - Online textbook subscription: $100
      - Additional computers (per student): $0
      Total: $200

      Seems pretty simple to me.
  • So let me get this straight, C average or above to get rewarded with laptops and scholarships?

    Way to keep setting that bar higher and higher, America! You can win by being average!

    (In all honesty, I think affording more kids accessibility to laptops and University is a great thing. Just why not make it universal, rather than "C average or above," which makes it a bit comical... Those with F averages aren't going to be qualify for University in the first place. In fact, at least here in Canada, I believe
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      So let me get this straight, C average or above to get rewarded with laptops and scholarships?

      Well, clearly, you are performing at below expected level, so wouldn't get the scholarship.

      The laptops are universal, and not a reward. The scholarships are for C average or better, and are arguably not a "reward" either, so much as a recognition that either college or technical school is as necessary as a highschool diploma was a few decades ago, and the area wants to improve its economic condition, it would be de

  • by PinkyDead (862370) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @12:46PM (#21573071) Journal
    Oh I come from Alabama with an XO on my knee.
  • by flynt (248848) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @12:59PM (#21573313)
    I just heard that the governor has signed a law in Alabama raising the drinking age to 35. He wants to keep alcohol out of the high schools.

    just a joke.
  • give Birmingham students with a C average or above a scholarship to college or tech school of their choice.

    That's an awful low bar to ask them to meet. If I only need to make a C to get a scholarship, that's likely only as hard as I'm going to work for it.

    • That's an awful low bar to ask them to meet. If I only need to make a C to get a scholarship, that's likely only as hard as I'm going to work for it.

      You probably need better than that to get into a decent school, which getting the city scholarship won't guarantee.

      All this does (or is intended to do) is make it so that students that make even modest effort won't be denied access to whatever college or technical school their academic record qualifies them for because of their finances. Which, IMO, is a good t

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @01:03PM (#21573389) Homepage
    This is a feel-good measure, nothing more. Tossing a laptop into a mix of bad teachers, and bad schools is not going to improve anything. There are several major problems, none of them technology related, that have made public education a colossal failure:

    1) Most of the people who are teaching subjects, have their primary education in "education."
    2) Teacher's unions.
    3) School policies that don't allow proper discipline for disruptive students.
    4) A legal system that actually listens to parents who sue when schools properly punish their kids for misbehaving.
    5) Government monopolies that make it financially impossible for most parents to afford to send their kids to private schools or homeschool them.

    But it's ok, technology will save the day. It couldn't do a damn thing for other social problems like pirating copyrighted materials, but it'll be able to take on... entrenched bureaucracies, good ol'boy networks, unions, crufty legal codes and parents who have no ability to hold their kids responsible for their behavior and are willing to shout and sue at the drop of a dime. Go technology, you modern day messiah of secular America.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209)

      Tossing a laptop into a mix of bad teachers, and bad schools is not going to improve anything.

      Are you so sure? At least kids who do want to learn will have access to the greatest library the world has ever known. I have more faith in access to information than what you believe, which is that everybody just needs more punishment. (Technology is a failure because it hasn't cured the "social problem" of copyright infringement? Let's go back to stone age, nothing curbs piracy like illiteracy and having t

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jimicus (737525)
      I shall tell you what this PC provides them.

      It provides them with executives from Intel and Microsoft getting on the first plane to Alabama to offer them a Windows-based laptop for a special discount price.
    • by tfoss (203340) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @03:01PM (#21575299)

      2) Teacher's unions.
      Do you have any actual evidence of this being a major problem? I know it's a lovely scape-goat particularly for political opponents of unions, but that doesn't give the argument any validity. In fact the researcher's who've tried to look at this [hepg.org] say there really isn't enough data to make a conclusion one way or another. Further, charter schools (sans unions) have shown no improvement [warning:PDF link] [rand.org] in student performance.

      3) School policies that don't allow proper discipline for disruptive students.
      4) A legal system that actually listens to parents who sue when schools properly punish their kids for misbehaving.
      Not sure, but it sounds like you are suggesting corporal punishment?

      5) Government monopolies that make it financially impossible for most parents to afford to send their kids to private schools or homeschool them.
      I'm not sure I understand how Gov't provided education makes private schools charge prohibitively expensive rates.

      -Ted
  • So where will be the next place in the US to get XO's? Mississippi, West Virginia, or El Paso Integrated School District?

    Probably not EPISD, they're too busy not giving the kids school lunches ("Nutritional mid-day snack"?) while taking the Federal school lunch program money. Among many other types of incompetence.

  • April 15th, huh? How appropriate. Kids can read or write; send 'em a laptop!
  • It's going to suck for those lower income parents having to shell out $200 when their kid loses the laptop or it is stolen. Or is the school going to absorb that cost? The article didn't make it clear, other than that they would disable it.


  • I live in Birmingham, AL and think that it is a great idea to be equipping our children for life in the real world. Mayor Larry Langford's efforts, to this end, should be lauded.

    On the other hand, and there is always another hand, this particular instance is a shell game. Birmingham (and sadly Alabama in general) has been the victim of poor leadership and frequent deception. In this case newly elected Mayor Larry Langford, formerly mayor of a nearby, poorer, decaying locality, rented an apartment in Birm
  • by PHAEDRU5 (213667) <instascreed&gmail,com> on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @01:52PM (#21574159) Homepage
    Airbus is about to start manufacturing aircraft in Alabama. ThyssenKrupp is well established. Mercedes makes cars their.

    I was stationed in Alabama for a year. While there, I had a world-class Shakespearean theater at my back door. I loved living in Alabama.
    • by Chris Burke (6130)
      I was stationed in Alabama for a year. While there, I had a world-class Shakespearean theater at my back door.

      That sounds neat, but I would think the novelty would wear off after a month of non-stop Hamlet recitals. Didn't they have anywhere better to go? Or are world-class Shakespearean theater troupes so common you have them just living on the streets? If so, I hope you left them some sandwiches.

You can do more with a kind word and a gun than with just a kind word. - Al Capone

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