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Detroit porkulus dump: $49 million for laptops

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By Michelle Malkin  •  January 4, 2011 01:29 PM

Criminey.

The Detroit Public Schools are overrun by corruption, violence, and incompetence.

Test scores are rock-bottom.

The teachers’ union sabotaged classroom instruction and denied schoolchildren an education through an apparent illegal work stoppage.

Yet, Washington went ahead and forked over $530 million in federal porkulus funds to reward yet more Detroit government school failure and bail out the reckless-spending boobs who mismanaged the DPS budget and engineered a fiscal crisis.

Today, we learn that $49 million of that money will go toward…laptops and computers:

Detroit Public Schools will spend $49 million in federal money to push technology in the district, including distributing 40,000 new laptop computers to students in grades 6-12 for use in class, as well as more than 5,000 new desktop computers.

…The district already has started distributing the computers and expects to deliver them all by the end of this school year, said Kisha Verdusco, a DPS spokeswoman.

The massive technology infusion totals 50,000 pieces of equipment — including 4,300 printer/scanners and more than 500 HP desktop computers for the 138 early childhood classrooms in the district.

These technology infusions have turned out to be gesture-driven boondoggles and political payoffs that squander precious educational resources — and with little, if any, measurable academic benefits.

More on the laptop boondoggle here and here and here, via reader Robert.

Flashback:

“After seven years, there was literally no evidence it had any impact on student achievement — none,” said Mark Lawson, the school board president here in Liverpool, one of the first districts in New York State to experiment with putting technology directly into students’ hands. “The teachers were telling us when there’s a one-to-one relationship between the student and the laptop, the box gets in the way. It’s a distraction to the educational process.”

Liverpool’s turnabout comes as more and more school districts nationwide continue to bring laptops into the classroom. Federal education officials do not keep track of how many schools have such programs, but two educational consultants, Hayes Connection and the Greaves Group, conducted a study of the nation’s 2,500 largest school districts last year and found that a quarter of the 1,000 respondents already had one-to-one computing, and fully half expected to by 2011.

Yet school officials here and in several other places said laptops had been abused by students, did not fit into lesson plans, and showed little, if any, measurable effect on grades and test scores at a time of increased pressure to meet state standards. Districts have dropped laptop programs after resistance from teachers, logistical and technical problems, and escalating maintenance costs.

…Those giving up on laptops include large and small school districts, urban and rural communities, affluent schools and those serving mostly low-income, minority students, who as a group have tended to underperform academically.

Matoaca High School just outside Richmond, Va., began eliminating its five-year-old laptop program last fall after concluding that students had failed to show any academic gains compared with those in schools without laptops. Continuing the program would have cost an additional $1.5 million for the first year alone, and a survey of district teachers and parents found that one-fifth of Matoaca students rarely or never used their laptops for learning. “You have to put your money where you think it’s going to give you the best achievement results,” said Tim Bullis, a district spokesman.

Everett A. Rea Elementary School in Costa Mesa, Calif., where more than 95 percent of students are Hispanic and come from low-income families, gave away 30 new laptops to another school in 2005 after a class that was trying them out switched to new teachers who simply did not do as much with the technology. Northfield Mount Hermon School, a private boarding school in western Massachusetts, eliminated its five-year-old laptop program in 2002 after it found that more effort was being expended on repairing the laptops than on training teachers to teach with them.

And now, $49 million down the drain in Detroit for more of this high-tech profligacy.

Criminey.

***

Perfect: DPS says teacher tried to pawn laptop

And remember this: Philadelphia school uses laptops to spy on children at home

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