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Maine iBook Purchase Signed Into Law, US$25 Million Program Puts iBooks Into Schools Across The Stat

Maine iBook Purchase Signed Into Law, US$25 Million Program Puts iBooks Into Schools Across The State

by , 10:00 AM EST, March 28th, 2002

First reported on last year, a plan for Maine to purchase iBooks for all of its 7th and 8th grade students throughout the state has been signed into law. The plan is part of a broader state-wide education bill that, and it has been championed by Maine's governor, Angus King. The US$25 million dollar plan pays for iBooks for the students for 4 years, with 7th graders starting in 2003, and 8th graders included the following year. From a report in Maine paper, the Sun-Journal:

King is predicting that in four years laptops will continue because it will be that successful. "I'm so confident that this will prove itself to be powerful and important that it will be very difficult to not fund it in the future." The annual cost of $7 million is cheap, he said, considering it's less than one-half percent of every school budget in Maine. It would be difficult for any project "to have this kind of impact" for that amount, the governor said.

The article also discusses how the governor fought for this proposal for two years. Part of the battle was a political one, but part of the battle was also a public perception issue. From the Sun-Journal piece:

Looking back, King said if he could do it over he would present the project differently. He would not have suggested that laptops be given to kids. "For some reason that triggered opposition. And this year as I was talking to legislators, a lot of people still have the impression we're giving a $1,200 gift to 12-year-olds."

If he could announce his proposal again, King would say the program would end the digital divide and transform the way education is delivered, "and by the way we're starting with seventh-graders. That was my idea. But it was a question of how it was originally annunciated." To some citizens it became "a gift of a big, fancy machine to 12-year-olds."

You can find more information on the legislation and the process in the full Sun-Journal article. The Portland Press Herald, another Maine newspaper, also has an article on this development that deals with more of the local issues surrounding the legislation.

Thanks to Robert Leitao (a.k.a. DawnTreader in the TMO forums) for his assistance with this article. For further discussion of this subject, join the thread in our forums.

The Mac Observer Spin:

This is a nice development for the kids in Maine, and it's an important development for Apple. The Henrico County, Virginia school system that put its students on iBooks last year was big news for Apple, but Maine's new initiative marks the first time an entire state has gone with Apple's iBooks. If the program is a successful one, and if the state can show lower costs than one might have expected from a similar program with Wintel laptops (Think Dell), then you can bet your share of Apple stock that other states and other school systems will pay attention. In fact, it's also a sound bet that this will be a closely watched program by computing foes and fans alike. It should be interesting.

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