Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Laptops For Cobb County Georgia Schools


I have refrained from entering the laptop fray in order to attempt to get a better idea as the to benefits and disadvantages of the idea. I have read with interest the articles in the MJD that show that the program has been, at best, misrepresented. The $75 million grew to over $100 million and no one on the board seems to notice a 33% increase in cost. I am beginning to think that this School Board has decided that they do not have to answer the people of the county.

I understand that some of the members feel safe in their districts because they are Republicans. I have news for you. If this program goes through as planned, without even a reasonable testing period with clear, measurable objectives, I would vote Democrat if necessary to get you out of office. It in not acceptable that such an expense be incurred without some good reason. Just saying that it will help does not cut it. Stating that laptops increased attendance in some other county does not mean that the increase was caused by the laptops. It seems certain to me that as things stand, any SPLOST III will be DOA unless some changes are made. Most people do not respond well to arrogance.

In particular, is this implementation proposed the best? Is Apple the proper choice? I don't think so but I don't know what the decision was based on. Was it cost only? We don't know. Unfortunately, this new technology is not the same as the industry standard. Businesses in general use IBM compatible systems. There are enough differences to cause confusion to the very students we are supposed to be helping. How many Cobb County students do not have a computer now? I think most of them either own or use a computer regularly. Maybe we need to find that out before we spend this kind of money and assume these students are not computer literate.

I have been in the computer industry for many years and I encourage the county to increase the technology level in the schools. Please give the laptops to the teaches. That is a wonderful idea. Provide projectors to the classrooms. I don't have a problem with a true pilot program. A good pilot should include trials at both ends of the school spectrum. A top performing school and a bottom performing school. Perhaps a middle school at both ends and a high school at both ends. There should be concrete objectives including test score evaluations and attendance evaluations. Then and only then can we fairly evaluate the idea.

Creative Spellers don't need laptops in the classroom. They need to LEARN TO SPELL.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Let Freedom Ring


The United States is a fine example of the way the democratic process works. We have different parties that, at time, accuse the other (s) of everything they can think of. The process works. Sometimes, people in large numbers are not pleased with the results of our elections but at least so far, they do comply with the wishes of the majority (within the bounds of the Constitution, thank God!).

In Afghanistan and Iraq, the world has seen the jubilation of the people able to vote for the first time. It may not last. It may turn into something not resembling Democracy. It may even turn, at some time, into a Theocratic nightmare. But at least for now, freedom is ringing in these two countries.

In Lebanon, the people clamoring for Syria to leave is unthinkable 6 months ago. I don't know yet if this will lead to a democrat form of government in Lebanon but there is at least a chance of it for the first time in memory.

Palestine has even elected a president in a free election. Does this mean that the PLO, Islamic Jihad and Hamas will accept Israel? Of course not. Does it mean that at least a seed of the democratic process has been planted. You betcha! Without Arafat, it might even grow into something that the world can celebrate.

Saudi Arabia had elections.

Egypt is about to have the first contested election ever.

Some of the former Soviet Republics, Georgia and Ukraine have had democratic elections that seem to be real.

It is reaching the point the even the German Der Spiegel asked, "How quickly can the virus of democracy spread?" Apparently the answer is pretty darn fast!

Was Bush right? I think so and even some of the doubters around the world have started to agree.

We need to have a lot more work on the process but after the fertilization with American blood in the middle east, the seed is starting to sprout. It wasn't cheap. It wasn't fun. But in the long run, it may be effective. It is a major battle won in the War on Terror.