As another school year comes to an end, the Fullerton School District is telling parents that it’s time to pay $1,500 for a brand new laptop for each of their children. Included in the presentation is a reminder that if they don’t get a laptop, the school district will ship their children off to a lesser school under the premise that they must have 100% participation to continue the laptop program.
First, a little background — this little shakedown started as the brainchild of Fullerton School District Superintendent Cameron McCune, with the assistance of board member Hilda Sugarman. McCune had grandiose visions for his future career as an educational consultant, and he figured the best way to make himself popular was to manufacture a “digital revolution” and give away computers to every child in Fullerton.
Predictably, there was no money in the district budget for thousands of new computers, so McCune and Sugarman led the school board to ask the parents to pay for new computers themselves. At $1,500 a piece, that wasn’t going to be an easy sell. Just as they were about to give up, the perennial big-government solution presented itself – COERCION. The board decided that they could help Apple extort $1,500 from every parent using the threat of forced student relocation for non-participating parents.
There was a mother in Fullerton named Sandy Dingess with four children who now “needed” laptops to attend school. Being wary of disclosing private financial details in the required paperwork, Sandy called the ACLU, who then sued the school board. In the ACLU’s words “the Program plainly violates the free school guarantee under the California Constitution”. A lengthy battle of legal letters ensued, with school board caving in and allowing a small number of parents to opt for a $65/yr insurance premium instead of an outright purchase. Obviously the Constitution was still being violated, but it was enough of a victory for the ACLU to back down.
In the end, three of Sandy’s children were forced to move to another school because they could not afford laptops.
For those of you who don’t believe that the school district would participate in such thuggery, here is a clip of this year’s presentation from the District’s technology director:
So what can the victims do today to stop this expensive charade? When the 1:1 Laptop Program survey comes to your school, you will be presented with four options…. the first two leave you with a hefty bill. The opt-out choice will allow the school to ship your kid off to a location of their choosing. The “insurance only” option is obviously the way to go, as it forces the school to procure a laptop for your child even though they still take $65 from you. Remember that this will be a high-pressure sale, as the district can only afford to purchase laptops for 10% of the students. If there are more requests for laptops, the 1:1 program could be in jeopardy at that school, which cuts into Apple’s bottom line. But do not be swayed - let the school know that you will not be forced into participating in this high-tech boondoggle.
As Fullerton teachers and parents are losing their jobs, the district is attempting to expand this expensive program into new grade levels. It’s time to let them know that we cannot afford it.