Magazine article Curriculum Administrator

Worries about Insurance, Maintenance and Hidden Fees Make Michigan's Free Laptops Program a Tough Sell

Magazine article Curriculum Administrator

Worries about Insurance, Maintenance and Hidden Fees Make Michigan's Free Laptops Program a Tough Sell

Article excerpt

Michigan state officials say less than one-third of the state's school districts have signed up for its free laptop program. The $110-million giveaway plan, proposed by Gov. John Engler and passed by legislators last year, is aimed at providing laptops for 90,000 teachers statewide.

Two hundred and eleven of Michigan's 668 districts applied for the $1,200 portable computers during the program's first three months, officials say, which represents 23,839 teachers at a cost of $28.6 million.

In metro Detroit, about 8,750 computers worth $10.5 million are headed for classrooms in 16 districts. Most are tabbed for Detroit Public Schools, which has applied for portables for 6,300 teachers.

"This program gives us the tools we need," says Warren Baker, a high school English teacher in Wyandotte after receiving one of the first free laptops from Engler. "Our district doesn't have the resources to do this."

Engler says he expects all local school districts to apply by the June deadline. Many apparently are moving slowly and some "probably don't communicate very well," he adds. …

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