King plugging away at laptop plan
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Feb 21, 2001
Defending his idea of providing computers to every seventh-grader in Maine,
Gov. Angus King told a group of educators Wednesday that societies will
fail if they don't embrace technology.
His remarks via video teleconference came during the Consortium for School Networking's annual conference. The group of K-12
educators from across the nation promotes the use of telecommunications
and the Internet in public schools.
"As I see it, the future is digital. The future is technological," King
said. Last year, the governor proposed spending a $50 million state surplus
to give the state's seventh-graders laptop or thin-client computers. The
surplus would be put in an endowment, and interest from it would pay for
the computers, he recommended. Bad public reaction, however, killed the
Most people thought the money could be used more wisely to fix leaky
roofs in schools or fund training programs. They also questioned whether
seventh-graders were responsible enough to handle the fragile, expensive
The surplus was placed in a school technology trust fund and a state
task force, which met through the fall, discussed how to use it. The task
force said that computers should be given to the seventh-graders, but recommended
that schools own the devices. "They'd be treated much like textbooks," King
The state would supply "mid-clients," which fall somewhere between the
full computing ability of laptop computers and the network reliance of thin
clients, which do not have a hard drive. He said that if the computers are
network-based, the school districts could also apply for E-Rate funding.
If the plan is approved by the state legislature, the goal is to distribute
computers by the fall of 2002 and use initial expenditures from the endowment
to provide professional training and preparation for teachers, he said.
King said providing students with computers and access to the Internet
would "take a huge whack at the digital divide."