What if? – One laptop per child

The federal government spent $45.7
on elementary and secondary education in 2005–2006. This represented
about 8.2% of the overall government spending on P-12 education in our country,
with the rest of the monies coming from state and local sources.

The estimated P-12 public school enrollment for that same year was 48.7 million
. Add in about 5 million private
school children
and another 1.1 million
homeschooled children
and we have an approximate total of 54.8 million students. Using
these numbers, we can calculate that currently the federal
government spends about $834 per school-age child.

Even knowing that many families could afford a better computer,
what if the federal government bought a $100 (or so) laptop for every child in
? What would our schools be like? What would our children’s lives be like?


4 Responses to “What if? – One laptop per child”

  1. It would be great if the cost were really only $100 per laptop, but its not. Based on the Libya agreement, its at least $200, and if you look at Total Cost of Ownership, its in excess of $900 per laptop, blowing right through your budget.

    Here’s the $900 per cost calculation:

  2. Yeah that would be sweet…but would we be able to take them home or is it a school thing? either way it would be a great advantage to all students who dont have a computer to work on a home.

  3. I run a program called http://www.TKOEDucation.com that specializes in the sale of recently off-lease, working DELL computers that come to us from some of America’s foremost companies. I started the program back in 1997 ~ catering to K-12s across the U.S., selling exclusively the DELL OPTIPLEX line of PCs ~ arguably the most reliably built PCs available. Our prices start at just $119 and top out at $329.

    I make a point to make the distinction that this equipment arrives in WORKING condition because unlike factory refurbished units (which could be customer returns that have had problems and needed repair) there is absolutely nothing wrong with the equipment we refurbish.

    Upon receipt, we do an initial audit and some testing, and then we re-configure the units, update the BIOS levels (the behind the scenes stuff that fixes potential bugs, security flaws, etc.), and then meticulously clean each of these computers both inside and out.

    Ultimately, each of these professionally refurbished DELL OPTIPLEX PCs are as good as new. In fact, so confident in our process, we even add a 3-year warranty, a brand new keyboard and mouse and power cord.

    Why am I writing this in this forum? Because there are many, many K-12 school districts across the country that have seemed to have lost focus of some things ~ some very BASIC things ~ that would allow them to improve their schools without sacrificing quality or warranty or service and support.

    I’m talking about their stretching their technology budget specifically (because this is what I know ~ this is what impacts me personally), but this applies to any expenditure that these school administrators must make.

    Bottom line? If you are tasked with making a personal purchase ~ whether it is a new computer for yourself or a plasma TV or even a new car ~ don’t you select the best one that suits your needs, fits your budget, and has certain protections with your “investment” (ie. a warranty, or a return policy, or a lemon law)???

    Here’s my beef: In my neighborhood, we have a really terrific school district. They are at the top of the charts in the State. In fact, I have two kids that are in the district. Recently, we had some elections. In this election, there was a certain measure (MEASURE H, we’ll call it) that was a bond measure, that if passed, would provide X amount of money to the district for improvements. Long story short, the measure failed.

    Prior to the election, I approached the district multiple times to try to sell them our professionally refurbished equipment. Each of my efforts met with deaf ears, stating that the district has set certain standards for their technology purchases (basically, they have opted to purchase the “latest and greatest” direct from Dell, with the least expensive computer hovering near $700). But check this out – when MEASURE H failed, now they have decided to open the lines of discussions with me.

    Because the district FINALLY realizes that money doesn’t grow on trees, they are giving our program consideration. Shouldn’t these district administrators give consideration to alternatives regardless of how much money they have? I mean, if it were there own money, chances are they would spend it wisely, but when it is tax payers money, they don’t????

    For the K-5 (elementary level), http://www.TKOEDucation.com offers a $119 computer. This particular refurbished DELL OPTIPLEX PC has a Pentium 3-1GHz processor, 256mb of memory, and a 20GB Hard Drive, in addition to all the standard stuff – cd-rom, sound and video, and a network card. Again, we add in a new keyboard and an optical mouse and power cord and we wrap it up with our 3-year parts replacement warranty.

    Consider what software most elementary students use ~ Reader Rabbit, Mavis Beacon Typing Tutor, Word, Internet Explorer, and perhaps even PowerPoint for the 5th grade students. You know what? The $119 refurbished DELL OPTIPLEX computers that TKOED sells will flawlessly run these software packages without hesitation.

    District administrators who are looking to standardize an entire school or even their entire school district could literally replace all of their antiquated clones or the hodge-podge of different makes and models that have accumulated over the years from donations, and replace them with identically-equipped refurbished DELL OPTIPLEX PCs for just $119ea ~ and know that their investment would carry a 3-year warranty!

    Again, I’m involved in technology, so my story is about computers – but the same rules should apply to every purchase the district makes.

    Sean Dion

  4. Now, see, this is why I blog. I learn a ton.

    Yes, I think the TCO factor needs to be emphasized more.

    I had no idea TKOEDucation even existed, but the idea(s) that Sean discusses are worth considering. Do we need the latest and greatest in schools? If so, we’d better be able to articulate why.

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