A few back-of-the-envelope
calculations
here (estimating conservatively when in doubt)…

A. Number of students and teachers

50
million
public school students
+
3.3
million
public school teachers (full-time)
=
53.3
million
teachers and students

B. Cost per laptop (a regular laptop, not the OLPC laptop)

\$1,993 average district cost per client computer per year [from the three One-to-One CoSN Total
Cost Per Ownership (TCO) Case Studies
]
x
1.5 (I’m adding 50% just to
err on the safe side)
=
\$2,990 average district cost per client computer
per year (let’s call it \$3,000)

C. Total cost to give every student and teacher a laptop

53.3 million teachers and students (see A above)
x
\$3,000 average
district cost per client computer per year (see B above)
=
\$159.9 billion
(let’s call it \$160 billion)

D. Gross domestic product (GDP)

\$13 trillion (United States GDP, overall)
x
3.4%
(percentage of United States
GDP spent on K-12 education
)
=
\$442 billion (amount
in United States spent on K-12 education)

E. Percentage of GDP

\$160 billion (see C above)
/
\$442 billion (see D above)
=

36% of the overall United States K-12 education expense to
give every teacher and student a regular laptop

\$160 billion (see C above)
/
\$13 trillion (see D above)
=

1.2% of the overall United States GDP to give every teacher
and student a regular laptop

Obviously this is very rough, but hopefully it’s also thought-provoking. It
is highly possible that my numbers are incorrect somewhere. If you think I left
something out or miscalculated, let me know. Also, of course, opportunities for
savings abound (e.g., open source software, bulk discounts, buying OLPC laptops
instead of regular ones) and those would have to be factored in as well.

So can we afford to give every child (and teacher) in America a laptop? You
tell me…