Detroit buys laptops

Detroit’s hard-hit public schools are buying 35,000 laptop computers for all sixth- through 12th-grade students, reports the Free Press.  The district already bought 5,000 laptops for teachers. The money comes from a $49 million federal grant.

The technology “will truly create 21st century learning environments,” said Robert Bobb, the “emergency financial manager” and de facto superintendent of Detroit Public Schools. “Today we opened their classrooms to the world.”

In addition, 4,789 desktop computers will be distributed to ensure every classroom has a computer. Schools will get 4,291 printer/scanners and 4,550 document cameras that capture images for display on large screens.

Teachers will be able to access Learning Village, an online system that includes state standards, lesson plans and tutoring tools. By fall, staff and parents will be able to use the system to record and monitor student grades, Bobb said.

What happens when a disorganized, dysfunctional school gets a bunch of computers?  Nothing.

Is Spending Money on Technology Worth It? asks Larry Cuban, a Stanford education professor, in Ed Week.

Each reason for spending money has so little evidence to support the investment that it is like buying dot-com stocks that lose money year after year. It is, as Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan once said about the stock market, “an irrational exuberance.”

The rest of the piece is subscribers-only, but you get the idea.

Update: More schools are buying their students $750 iPads, reports the New York Times, which quotes Cuban saying there are better ways to spend the money.

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