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Who Should Buy Computers for School Students?

eSchoolNews offers this headline: Opinion: If feds care about technology, they should fund it about an article in KnoxNews.

The headline in the KnoxNews differs about the same story. An interesting editorial distinction got inserted somehow about this one story, perhaps because of a bias.

I want to challenge the inference of the first headline and propose that the responsibility for a student using a computer in school rests with the student’s parents, not with anyone else.

For example, some states still require that parents buy the student’s textbooks, paper, pencils, etc. A mobile computer fits into that category of school textbooks and other supplies. Although a computer is a more expensive single item, I wonder (and I haven’t costed it out yet in full business format) if the aggregate cost distributed over the life of the computer is less than for these other supplies.

Perhaps, if a parent thinks a student needs a computer in school, then the parent should buy the student a computer. I’d suggest considering a Tablet PC today. I don’t know what’s coming next, but it will likely be faster and more useful for student learning. A Tablet PC or other ink enabled instrument provides almost a state-of-the-art tool to accept electronic instruction for school-based learning.

Two reasons seem compelling for a parent to assert responsibility for providing a Tablet PC and maybe software for a child.

First, the rate of advanced technology change appears to exceed the rate of school districts adopting that technology. Given the ways most educators seem to approach advanced technologies in schools as “a system” instead of substitutes for single items like paper, pencils, I wonder if and how this difference will recede.

Second, parents in other countries (Taiwan as an example) buy a Tablet PC for each of their children to use in school. If I remember correctly, it’s a required purchase. If they can do it, why can’t parents in the U.S.? Yes, various traditions are different in the two countries. However, are the results of schooling in these two countries of sufficient merit to warrant U.S. parents to reconsider our reliance on educators and public funds to provide whatever guided learning our children need?

This is not a political opinion and questions. It’s a traditional, practical parental question about parental responsibility for what and how a (including my) family learns, including my grandchildren. I do wonder … Do you?

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