With the Republican Legislature hammering education to balance our mismanaged state budget, you'd think every school would be cutting expenses and praying for rain. Not West Central in Hartford. They're spending half a million dollars to buy 430 Macbooks to equip every high school student with a laptop.
I agree with West Central Principal Mark Hofer that issuing each student a laptop is better than scheduling and hauling computer carts around between classrooms. My main question: are Macs really worth it? These Apple machines cost over a thousand dollars apiece, more than twice the price of PC laptops. In perhaps some injudicious editing, KELO's Katie Janssen justifies the cost by pulling this quote:
"With MacBooks, they have* iMovie, iDVD, Garage Band,” Hofer said. “Some classes are project-based, so they can use all those tools to show their knowledge in an innovative way."
That rustling sound is the bushy eyebrows of parents and taxpayers elevating at the mention of Garage Band as a curriculum tool.
I dig digital media and the whole idea of making students producers, not just consumers, of online media. But in the current budget situation, are Macs really necessary? Remember, for the price of one Mac, you can buy three or four netbooks. And there's a strong argument to be made that for most classroom activities, even a piddly little netbook is all the computer students need.
If, of course, you think students need computers in the classroom in the first place....
*Bonus Grammar Quibble! Principal Hofer's quote exemplifies a grammar problem I've seen creeping into writing and speech recently. "With Macbooks, they have..."—why open with that prepositional phrase? Why not just say, "Macbooks have..."? The prepositional phrase and subsequent pronoun create a superfluous delay in conveying meaning. I hear similar constructions with by ("By studying grammar, it helps you...") and occasionally in (usually in citations in high school speeches: "In this article, it states that..."). Drop the preposition, the comma, and the pronoun—tighten those sentences!