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Local Columnist Slams School System For Removing Macs From Schools

Local Columnist Slams School System For Removing Macs From Schools

by , 4:15 PM EDT, September 17th, 2003

Rants and raves are common in the Mac community. We love this, we hate that, so and so is brilliant, and we are surprised that this or that idiot manages to shave in the mornings without cutting his own throat, and gee, maybe we should do it for him... That's all in a days work for the many Mac sites awed and dismayed by daily events in the technology world, but how often do you run across a pro-Mac, Windows-slammin' editorial written by a fired up local newspaper columnist?

That's what we have today, as St. Petersburg Times (Florida) columnist Howard Troxler takes the local school superintendent to task for his plan to remove all those pesky non-corporate Macs from his schools. Better yet, he does so subtly, and with skill. From the column:

I totally endorse the decision of Howard Hinesley, the school chief in Pinellas County, to eliminate Apple computers from the public schools and switch to Windows-based computers.

ERROR: THE FILE "WHATSIS.DLL' HAS UNEXPECTEDLY DISAPPEARED FROM THE HARD DRIVE.

After all, the entire point of public education is to prepare children for the real world, and the real world is dominated by Windows.

There is no sense in letting kids get accustomed to easier-to-use, more reliable machines that are less prone to viruses when they will have to grow up and survive in the modern workplace.

It just gets better from there, and we heartily recommend the full column as a very good read.

The Mac Observer Spin:

In fact, we offer Mr. Troxler a big Mac Observer Salute!

The argument that kids should work on the same computers at school that they will work on in the "real world" is fundamentally flawed in three ways:

  1. Our schools are not vocational institutions whose job it is to train a work force. Schools should choose computers that are best able to help teaches and students alike in the education process. Should Windows, Linux, or Macintosh, or a mix of the three, be the best solution, so be it, but what students might use after graduation is irrelevant.
  2. Computer skills are transferable from one OS to another, especially by kids. If a child grows up on a Windows box, he will be able to quickly adapt to a Mac system, and vice versa.
  3. Whatever OS a school is installing today is not at all likely to be the OS being used in business by the time a child graduates, even when that OS is part of the same platform used by that corporation. Would a child who used Windows 3.x in the early 90s be somehow better prepared for a corporate life of Windows 2000 ten years later than she would have had she been using System 6.x instead? The reality is that System 6 probably would have better prepared that child for Win2K, but that's another issue. The way technology morphs and evolves, preparing the child for the work force of tomorrow by using the corporate computers of today is an irrational argument. This is compounded by the fact that a school kid of today isn't likely to land a job that uses a computer until after college, which is that much longer than after high school graduation.

So, kudos to Mr. Troxler for taking Mr. Hinesley to task. For those keeping score at home, it appears that Dr. J. Howard Hinesley is Superintendent of Pinnellas County Schools, a school district in Florida. We expect the IT bill for that school system to take a giant leap higher in the near future, and we hope that Mr. Hinesley is there to pay the bill.

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