City School Board OKs Laptops for Students

The Charlottesville School Board has OK’d a $2.4M expenditure to buy two thousand tablet computers for students, Graham Moomaw writes in the Progress. These Fujitsu Stylistics aren’t tablets in the iPad sense, assuming the Progress’ photo is representative, but really just laptops with the screen permanently affixed to the back of the computers, with a tethered pen-like stylus in lieu of a mouse, and a wireless keyboard. The operating system is simply a modified version of Windows 7, and not a real tablet operating system. Reviews of what I think are the right model aren’t glowing [1, 2], but presumably the school system’s requirements are rather different than most reviewers’. The laptops will cost $768 apiece, and will show up in a few weeks. CHS students will get them in mid-October, with kids at Buford and Walker getting them in November.

Note that this was originally pitched as a $500,000–$1,000,000 project back in February, a number that the school system was presenting as “below $1 million” in May.

23 Responses to “City School Board OKs Laptops for Students”


  • if there are 2000 computers at $768 apiece, and 2.4 million is the budget, what is the extra .9 million for?

  • ok – had my coffee and read the article. so the balance is for

    software , services and implementation.

    Particularly enjoyed that the computers are built to military specs…for ruggedness.

  • I believe these computers are very similar to the lap Va Tech requires (strongly suggests?) for their entering freshman.I wonder if they have over bought their specs?

  • if there are 2000 computers at $768 apiece, and 2.4 million is the budget, what is the extra .9 million for?

    That was a little test to see if people had read the article. ;)

  • What a great opportunity for our kids. I hope this program is a big success.

  • ‘Note that this was originally pitched as a $500,000–$1,000,000 project back in February, a number that the school system was presenting as “below $1 million” in May.’

    Here it is again where government is concerned. Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.

  • failing to see the issue

    Why NOT buy a souped up laptop for every student? I mean, what could possibly go wrong? It’s only 2.4 million dollars. Books are so outdated anyway. And all those trees!

    Students need more face time with electronic screens anyway. Good that the school board is forcing them to spend even more hours away from the pen and paper. Who actually writes stuff in this day and age?

    This was very well thought out and I’m sure that one day soon we’ll be lauding the school board members that made this unanimous decision. The lack of dissent only proves the wisdom!

  • So the extra million dollars will come from where? And, will each student have the option of declining his/her laptop?

  • That was a little test to see if people had read the article. ;)

    Isn’t that why I go to blogs… so I don’t have to read the article? ಠ_ಠ

  • I don’t know one person who owns a Fujitsu computer. Why would the city buy 2000 of them? And if you’re going to buy 2000 of something, why not do it from an American company or a foreign company with American manufacturing?

  • failing to see the issue

    Evan, how provincial! Charlottesville is a World class city!

    Think of how in these last few years our the relationships between the City of Charlottesville and her sister cities around the world have improved with. Commend the school board for issuing a statement in support of the International Day of Peace.

    Truly these are the issues all our local governments should be concerned with, when they aren’t purchasing 2000 tablet PCs for high school students. The school board is improving Charlottesville’s schools tremendously by taking these actions.

    It doesn’t matter how the schools perform. What matter is that every student will have a tablet PC and support international peace! It doesn’t matter if the city and the county don’t get along, that’s what sister cities are for!

    As long as we have a government that does things that makes right-thinking people FEEL good, why quibble over the cost or whether or not the vendor is an American company?

  • Am Your Neighbor Too

    4) Evan S

    “And if you’re going to buy 2000 of something, why not do it from an American company or a foreign company with American manufacturing?”

    Oh, tablet computers must have been on sale. What else?!!!

    Don’t you know how the exceptional amongst us are compelled to SPEND? Place red flag in front of bull here. Do the indifferent elite even know the meaning of budget and saving anymore?

  • Does there actually exist a computer manufacturer who makes their computers in the U.S.? Although I’m no expert in the topic of where computer components are manufactured, it’s something that I pay attention to, and I’m not familiar with any company doing that.

  • They should buy the wifi version of Kindle and get all textbooks on it. It would be far cheaper and they’re more durable.

    No, they’re not “full” table computers but they can still use school and home computers.

  • Waldo, there are computers that are completely made in the US. The federal government buys sole US sourced hardware for many contracts where they want only US parts in them over security concerns. However, the costs for these systems is much higher than ‘standard’ ones.

  • It’s really hard to imagine how a tablet computer would be a good investment for, say, a third grader. It will be interesting to see if the plan really enhances the educational quality for younger students.

    As for the older students, I’m wondering if a netbook would have been a better choice. It’s pretty hard to do serious work on a tablet.

  • They are giving the tablets to 6th to 8th graders, who can’t take them home, and high schools who will be able to take then out of school. That seems like a resonable policy to begin with.

  • I have a high school student who has already been issued all of the textbooks for his classes this year. So, how will the tablet enhance his education?

  • Waldo, there are computers that are completely made in the US. The federal government buys sole US sourced hardware for many contracts where they want only US parts in them over security concerns.

    I’ve spent the last twenty minutes trying to find information about this, but I just can’t turn anything up. There are lots of discussions out there about whether such a thing is even hypothetically possible, and I have to agree with the bulk of others’ conclusions that it’s simply not. The number of parts in a computer boggle the mind, and it strikes me as unlikely that every single type of part is manufactured in the U.S. While we remain the world’s largest manufacturer, there are some things that just aren’t made here anymore.

    What I think is more likely is that some agencies (NSA, CIA, etc.) require that key components be American-made, for security reasons. It’s really not of their concern if the keyboard, mouse, DVD-ROM drive, case, or power supply are made in the U.S., for instance, because there’s very little security exposure there. But there’s significant concern about the CMOS and, in fact, a great deal of the motherboard’s components. (There’s no way that they’d ever want to use China’s Loongson processor—the thing is guaranteed to have back doors.)

    To be clear, I don’t think that it’s impossible that there is such a thing as a wholly American-made computer, I just can’t find any evidence of it, and it does seem pretty unlikely.

  • You’re more than likely right about finding a completely American made computer.

    My point was that our government, when possible, should buy from American companies or at least foreign companies with American manufacturing.

    Sure, price and more importantly quality should play into the argument, but so should Made in the USA. I know nothing about Fjuitsu computers, never owned one, and don’t know anyone who does. Why would the city go out an purchase 2000 of these when they could have ordered from HP, Dell, Apple. If they’d been ordering from HP, maybe they could have gotten them for $99 a piece.

  • My point was that our government, when possible, should buy from American companies or at least foreign companies with American manufacturing.

    I agree!

  • It doesn’t look like the $99 HP tablets are quite the same, but in any case, I’d think that buying a computer as a close out item is a bit risky, since there’s unlikely to be much support.

    And, what if the gummit had bought an American made computer, but it was $50 more? I can imagine the howling about wasting our tax dollars!

    I think having a computer *could* make the students more engaged, and having a computer *might* help the students comprehension. I know that I’ve been really please with the computer-guided instruction I’ve done. I think it depends on the software and the teacher’s training.

  • It all depends on the preparation by the Division for the whole initiative and how prepared the teachers are to integrate the technology in their content areas? How much time and money has been spent on teacher training in advance? Otherwise it looks good in the news but may be a waste of time. Also how will it be evaluated for effectiveness? The Division should have that all laid out and explained in advance. Have they pilot tested this in a few classes? And is there evidence that it improves student learning and how? I am all for technology in education as long as it is well thought out and shown to be effective and that depends on teachers and their preparation. Are they working with anyone from UVA school of education?

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