Idiots In Charge Of School Systems: Lemmings, Part II

If your best friend jumped off a bridge, does that mean you should change your whole school system to PCs? As TMO reported late last week, the "Everyone else is doing it, so why shouldnit we?" mentality has struck again, this time in Pinellas county Florida.

School superintendent Howard Hinesley decided the whole system needs to switch to PCs despite the fact that 69% of the existing computers are Macs, and most staff members being against it. Oops, did I forget to mention that he never asked the staff (the people who actually use the computers) what they thought?

After reading letters written to the St. Petersburg Times, itis seems the most common reason for the switch to PCs is to prepare the children for the future. In the words of one reader, "to learn using the same tools they can expect to use across corporate America."

That is stupid, short-sighted and just plain wrong. With the rate of change in the computer industry, it is silly to expect that places will still be using the same operating systems kids are now using in school. Who knows what operating systems will look like in 3-5 years, let alone at the time when todayis graduating children land a job where they actually use a computer? In fact, I would expect that many current PC users first learned on Apple IIs in school. With the millions of PC users out there, that doesnit seem to have kept them from learning a new platform.

Itis bad enough our roads and buildings get built by the lowest bidder, should we be happy to see education be held to that same standard? Individual unit price is the usual justification given for wholesale switches. School systems should be choosing on the merits of the product. Itis interesting that nobody claims a switch is needed because different machines would be better, cheaper in total cost, easier to maintain, longer lasting or more secure. Those are only included in arguments for keeping Macs in the schools.

Itis important to remember that the public educational system is not supposed to merely teach vocation, as was mentioned in the spin of TMOis coverage. Primary schooling is designed for flexibility in learning. If its purpose is only to prepare kids for what they will see in the workplace, why teach foreign language or art? Learning how to operate two different systems should be seen as a benefit, not a detriment.

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