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Monday, January 19, 2009

Madison HS Passes Gateway Costs on to Families

One more Gateway hosing: among the items on the agenda for the Madison Central School Board tonight is an explanation of how Gateway/MPC's self-extinction affects who pays for repair costs. The poorly written explanation (occasional convenient admin-speak passive voice, not to mention at least one sentence fragment, misspelling, and bothersome repetition of use to instead of the correct used to) is a bit hard to follow, but here's what I take from it:
  • At the beginning of the school year, parents had three options: insure their kids' $1336 laptops through the school, through their own policies, or not at all.
    1. Those who bought insurance through the school get hosed: The school still covers "manufacture defects," but "what use [sic] to be covered under accidental damage will now be part of the fines students receive, and the fines will be passed on to the student."
    2. Those who bought private policies can try submitting their kids' damage fines as claims to their insurers (that one going to fly, Rod?).
    3. Those who bought no insurance lose nothing... at least until their kids leave the laptop in the car overnight when it's twenty below.
  • Kids aren't exactly learning to be careful with these spendy machines. Despite fines and "numerous messages," the author, indicated by the PDF document's properties to be Todd Beutler, reports kids bring him an average of one cracked screen a day.
Now maybe I'm just a lucky guy, but I've hauled my laptops with me all over kingdom come on my bike and in my backpack for over a decade, and I have yet to render one of my machines inoperable. Even so, I find textbooks last longer... and boot up faster.

The report's recommendation: buy insurance. My recommendation: seriously reconsider whether the school district wants to keep imposing on parents and taxpayers the costs (upfront and ongoing) of requiring kids to haul computers wherever they go.


  1. Well said. The end.

  2. The insurance policy purchased through the school should still be in force, regardless of the manufacturer's failure. The State Division of Insurance in Pierre will see to that. A contract is a contract. The only question will be whether parts for repairs are available when claims are submitted. Dell and HP would have been a better choice in hindsight.

  3. What if I don't want my student to use a laptop?

  4. Take the extra curricular activities out of school and there is plenty of money for education.

  5. Anon 4:25, 6:33 and 7:45. All the same person...All the same stupid uninformed comments. Go back to your cave and hibernate.

  6. Anonymous bashing of Anonymous comments... don't make me come in there!

    Seriously, Anon 7:49, no bashing "uninformed" comments unless you have some information to offer. (Plus, your IP tracker is broken.)

  7. Cory:

    I am neither uninformed or stupid. I do not live in a cave.

    Anon 7:49's assumption that the three comments were made by the same person is wrong.

    I am not in favor of requiring students to carry a laptop to class because there is no evidence that the use of ther computer increases test scores.

  8. ...not that there's anything wrong with caves... ;-)

    Well said, Mike. Anon 7:49 -- your ball!

  9. Let me apologize to Anon 4:25 and Anon 6:33, it was Anon 7:45 that set me off. Extra curricular activites account for less than 4% of any school's budget.

    That was an uninformed statement and if you take extra curricular activities out of school, there will NOT be plenty of money for education.

    Win the lawsuit or get a governor who believes in K-12 Education and a legislature who will do the right thing and properly fund education and we will have plenty of money for education.

    I don't have time for people who say, "don't confuse me with the truth".

  10. Thank you, Anon. I concur wholeheartedly: Anon 7:45 has a weak grasp of the value for the dollar we get from extra-curriculars, which comprise a low single-digit percentage of most schools' budgets. I don't have numbers handy, but I'll wager we could fund every sport and probably more with the money we spend on laptops. And as I've argued with respect to debate, we can get more academic bang for the buck from one weekend debate tournament than a semester speech class. Cut the laptops, not opportunities for kids to learn and compete.

  11. I think if you factor in all the hidden costs of extracurriculars in school, they would comprise more than the 4% we all hear about. Not to mention the fact that many teachers are hired first as coaches and second as teachers and that is where their priority lies. I've witnessed this with my kids. Yes, extracurriculars are important, maybe just not as part of a free public education. it isn't the school's responsibility to turn out well-rounded kids, it's the school's responsibililty to turn out well-educated kids. The other part lies with the parents, extended family, community, etc.

    There comes a time when there isn't the extra money to do all that we have been doing, state-wise and federal-wise. But neither gov'ts have realized this yet, and neither have we the people.

    And I agree that the idea of laptops for every student in high school has been tried and should now be sent back to its cave. We simply can't afford it and it has not been proven to work.


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