The Back Page - Newspaper Columnist: No Sympathy For Teachers Losing Macs
by - December 1st, 2004
Rich Brooks of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune has no sympathy for teachers who are protesting the local school board's decision to replace its Macs with PCs running Windows. We know this right from the get-go of his latest column, titled "The Mac attack: No sympathy here for teachers polishing Apples."
At issue is a decision by the Sarasota, Florida school district to replace several thousand Macs with Windows PCs.
It seems that though Mr. Brooks has never used a Mac, though the local teachers who actually have to teach local students say they need those Macs, and though the closest thing to Mac experience he has is a near-miss with buying a Mac five years ago, it's obvious to him that schools should be running Windows.
"With PCs locking in 97 percent of the market," he writes in his column, "deciding what kind of computers to use in a school system is a no-brainer."
That's the lemming argument writ large.
He also talks at length, and in ignorance, about compatible software, the importance of floppy drives, and the fact that it was more important for schools to match what businesses used, than it was for parents to buy the computer their kids use in school.
Opining with the wit of a broken 2 x 4, he notes:
Thinking back to that initial meeting in the high school library [with a teacher who recommended I buy a Mac], I see now that for all their postulating about technology, the teachers really didn't understand its applications in the educational environment.
Sure, they could write programs, create Web sites and surf the Internet, but they didn't realize that computer technology is a tool to use at home and school.
That's right, it's the teacher who doesn't understand the role of a computer in education, while Mr. Brooks, in all his righteous ignorance, does.
The Mac platform has come a long way in recent years, especially in terms of perception. Mac OS X, the G5 processor, the iMac G5, the Xserve, Virginia Tech's System X supercomputing cluster, and even the iPod have all contributed to make the Mac less of the odd-man out.
While it's true that Apple has lost market share during the course of all those events, the fact is that the Mac user base has steadily grown, more developers have come to the platform, and more people than ever are apparently considering buying a Mac.
Accordingly, I find it a tad disheartening, if unsurprising, that ignorance such as Mr. Brooks' thrives in the midst of that environment.
So be it.
In the meanwhile, a couple of our forum members wrote to Mr. Brooks, and this was his (apparently) carbon-copy response to them:
Like most Mac users who wrote to me, you missed the point.
Macs may be superior to PCs in many ways, but the fact that two versions of the same programs are needed to share files makes it for me. The school district must maintain two separate platforms to accommodate Macs and PCs. It's expensive and unnecessary when one considers that Macs have only a 3 percent share of the home computer market.
I said it before, and I stand by it: the decision to phase out Macs and replace them with PCs is a no brainer.
Yeah, and you're still wrong, Mr. Brooks.
If you want to write him yourself, you can get his e-mail address at the end of his two-page column. I'd post that address here, but IMNHO, you shouldn't write him unless you read first hand what he said. I would also advise anyone writing him to be respectful, or at least courteous, as the drubbing he deserves will fall on deaf, or ignored, ears.
began using Apple computers in 1983 in a high school BASIC programming class. He started using Macs in 1990 when the Kinko's guy taught him how to use Aldus PageMaker, finally buying a Power Computing Power 100 in 1995. Today, Bryan is the Editor of The Mac Observer, and has contributed to the print versions of MacAddict and MacFormat (UK).
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