CNNEducation: Smaller Budget Mean Fewer Laptops

There have been a rash of Apple laptop purchases by schools lately. The most publicized in recent years is Maineis iBook Initiative, in which the state handed out iBooks to every 7th and 8th grade student and their teachers in the entire state. Still, it has only been a rash of similar purchases, not the frenzy of buying one might after seeing such successes.

While such programs have been shown to greatly enhance the educational experience of all involved, buying laptops for a large number of students is a pricey proposition; it is becoming increasingly so according to a new report from CNN. The article, School laptops losing luster, reports that increasing budgetary demands are forcing schools to rethink plans for making the leap to laptops, even though taking such a leap would be beneficial to the students they must educate. Hereis a excerpt from the article:

Most educators and legislators agree the US$37.2 million program, which outfits the stateis 34,000 seventh- and eighth-graders and 3,000 teachers with laptops, makes the grade. Absenteeism has dropped, and students have shown significant improvement in paying attention to schoolwork.

But few states are rushing to follow Maineis example.

In just a few years time, state budget surpluses that soared during the dot-com era have vanished, and laptops suddenly seem extravagant for states grappling with tight budgets, said Steve Smith, senior policy specialist for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

"States want to cut things that arenit going to directly affect the classroom," Smith said.

Even in Maine, funding is uncertain after the four-year laptop program ends in 2005. Gov. John Baldacci is proposing US$5.7 million in 2005 to keep it running, spokesman Lee Umphrey said. The appropriation would require legislative approval.

Talk of expanding Maineis laptop program into high schools has been all but abandoned because of the tight budget.

The article goes on to examine Michiganis laptop program, and further examines Maineis program, mainly touting its successes. Go to CNN and read the entire article for more information.