School District Still Forcing Parents to Buy $1,500 Apple Laptops

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.

Hey kids, everybody got a laptop? OK, building clear.
Hey kids, everybody bought a laptop right?

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.

39 Replies to “School District Still Forcing Parents to Buy $1,500 Apple Laptops”

  1. I think all students should be utilizing a computer in education, but a MAC? Are you kidding me? They are EXPENSIVE! What’s wrong with a $400 Dell laptop, or better yet, a $2-300 net book.

  2. I agree on the price issue, Jack. It’s 2009 and there is no reason to be spending that much money on a computer for education. But since the parents are paying and not the district, the administration has no incentive to shop around. I bet Apple kicked in all sorts of extra goodies for the district too.

    Even if the computers were cheaper, the core issue remains: The cost of these computers is unconstitutionally forced upon parents by the district.

    1. Joe, all government power is ultimately supported by the threat of force, therefore any extortion by a government agent is also coercion.

  3. It should also be noted that all of the parents that I interviewed were angry but afraid to speak out against this program. They felt that the school district would transfer their child to another school if they voiced an opinion on the laptop program. After seeing the video presentation, the threat is clearly real.

  4. Awesome. I knew I could count on nimble minded people to comment on this blog. It warms my heart to know that some people can’t think for themselves, but listen to all the talking heads tell of utopian desires while pretending to “report” facts.

    So, lets run down the list of things the city of Fullerton expects my tax dollars to pay for.

    1. Educate the child to the standards set up by people in Sacramento that receive kickbacks in order to determine exactly what the standards should be.
    2. Force me to buy a laptop for my student in order to promote some sort of “feel good, hey look how advanced we are at teaching our kids.” Education Consultant with fake credentials to convince the world that he knows what is good for everyone. (By the way, all you have to do is pay a fee and BAM! YOU are an Education Consultant…..where is that EASY, button when you need one.)
    3. Upon forced extortion, my child is shipped to another “school” where the neighborhood kids do not attend because they relented and paid for the computers, thereby relishing the child to an existence that will no doubt prove less, “fruitful” in the education process.
    4. Harmfully impart damage to the self esteem of my child because he/she is no longer scholastically evident to peers in the same neighborhood.

    Fullerton is awesome. If only all societies were so brilliant in their concept of how to extort money from people, while making them feel good about themselves. But it’s good to know we have constituents in our district that are nimble enough to realize a scam when they see it… long as it’s not too expensive.

    By the way I am still waiting to hear how educating our children is a right born in the United States Constitution………… J

    For those curious……IT NEVER WAS…..and this is what we end up with, fat cats, masquerading as “intelligent” people while fleecing US for every dime we are worth so they can JUSTIFY their existence.

    What’s next, teaching us that EVERY CHILD NEEDS A CELL PHONE…..I can hear the line now, “WE ARE ALL SAFER WITH PHONES…….they are magical devices that connect is to other people….AMAZING!”

  5. And by the way Joe, lest you feel outraged by being extorted remember – the educrats say its for your own good. You need to be educated!

  6. I was one of the sheep that was herded into a tiny room like cattle on a hot September evening for a mandatory 6th grade parent meeting. Men with nice suites stood in front of us and explained the value of the laptop program. Complete with graph charts, they convinced us that the United States was so far behind the rest of the world educationally as well as technologically, and that we need to buy a laptop for our children so that we can catch up with the rest of the competing nations. My mind was swimming with information overload and fear gripped me as I thought about how it was up to me to make our country more intelligent by purchasing a computer for my 11 year old. Like the rest of my peers who were in the room, I stared ahead, nodded my head, and signed a contract feeling like I had just participated in a government mind-control experiment, and not really sure of why the program was being implemented only that it was necessary. Last week they held another meeting. At this meeting we were told that we had the option to ‘buy-out’ of our purchase. Wait. I’m confused. I thought that we had to buy this thing. I thought that that’s what I was doing with my $45 a month for the last 9 months. If this was just a lease, if we were just renting this thing, then why were we forced into purchase? So basically I paid that money for my daughter to get a free public education at the school of my choice. Oh I get it. I feel sorry for the parents who bought it outright. They are stuck with the thing. They don’t get the option of giving it back. Oh and an added bonus, the junior highs that are available for my daughter to go to next year no longer have laptop programs. Baaaa bbbbaaaaaaa!!!!!!

  7. dig a little digging on the mover and shaker of the laptop inequity, hilda sugarman. A fortuitous marriage has freed this woman to meddle in affairs that reveal her ineptness. Public education is supposed to level the playing field for all students regardless of their socio-economic status. sugarman’s laptop program caused inequity in education by forcing poor students to transfer out of schools they chose to attend. Sugarman needs to stay at home in her kitchen baking sugar cookies for the local PTA fundraiser.

  8. Thanks for the story Ms. Lamb. It really helps us understand how the parents are being misled.

    There are so many angles to this boondoggle that I can’t fit them all here. For instance, I just got word that the school has lost tons of these laptops because some poor students can’t help but hock them for $25 of weed. Guess who foots the bill to replace each of those laptops, only to have it get “lost” again?

    At some point, one of the schools had to pull an educator out of rotation and put him on full-time laptop repair duty! An entire teacher’s salary wasted just to keep these over-priced devices working and/or calling the police to report them stolen.

    Why is the school board still driving this? Ignorance? Arrogance? Is there anyone who’s not afraid to stand up and say “we made a mistake”?

  9. It’s tempting to see technology as a quick fix for what ails education, but the real fix (in my opinion) is having good teachers develop quality thinking in their students. When someone tells me that the quality of my child’s education rests on his having a computer, I know I’m being sold a bill of goods. It’s just too easy for those in power to exploit a parent’s technical naivete to push something like the 1:1 program through. Parents all too familiar with their own struggles to keep current with technology often marvel at their children’s “accomplishments”, mistaking that for learning.

    I’ve seen adults being amazed that their child could put together a slick PowerPoint slideshow on topic like the Constitution, not realizing how easy it is to do. The reality is that kids pick this stuff up with hardly any effort at all, just try stopping them! The 1:1 program is tremendous waste, and those in charge should be ashamed for trying to get parents to foot the bill.

  10. Thanks for the insightful comment, Mr. Peabody.

    Say, how would you like to do a post for us on your theme? We’ll even let you use funny pictures!

  11. Where does the $1500 price come from? Surely there’s educational pricing. Standard pricing would be $949, but with so many computers bought, I would expect it to be less.

  12. Great question, Sherman. The district would probably say that the extra $500 goes for software and support, but I believe that money goes to subsidize the loaner laptops, the insurance program and/or additional computers for the administrative offices.

    On another note, the closest thing I could find to the admission of a mistake was in this letter from Superintendent Cameron McCune in 2006:

    When we initiated this program we had not anticipated parents who could afford to pay for a laptop but would insist that their child participate and not contribute toward the cost of the laptop. This has led to a conversation with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that jeopardizes the entire laptop program where over two thousand children already benefit from this innovative choice.

    To me this shows an incredible amount of arrogance on the district’s behalf. Essentially, the board had declared themselves the arbiters over the personal finances of every single family in the district by giving themselves the authority to demand personal financial details from Fullerton families and then telling them if they could afford a $1,500 laptop.

  13. I found an older cost breakout of Fullerton’s laptop program on a South Dakota state website (they were using it as a reference on how to not get sued by the ACLU.)

    The cost of warranty and insurance for the laptop is $364, well over a third of the cost of the laptop itself. In consumer terms, the pricing is absurdly high and undoubtedly the largest source of profit for Apple. This additional cost is not optional.

  14. I remember a few years ago, when one of the parents from Fisler came over to boost the concept of the laptop program.
    His justification was that he had lived in Europe and found that not only did we lag behind in a knowledge of cheese and wine, there weren’t enough computers in the class, nor was there a solid class in technology.

    So I called my friends in France and Germany, who said in their own way, “Of course my kid doesn’t have his own laptop. I have wine to buy, 4 week vacations to take.”

    So I felt there was two things going on.
    1. He was using us as a platform to call us luddites.
    2. He was warning us if we didn’t get on with the technology end of things our kids would be so far behind they’d never get into a reputable college (this guy probably his it figured out his kid is going to MIT).

    You have no idea how much I loathe this line of thinking, and the lifestyle being pushed.

    As a writer, I use the internet everyday. I communicate, get jobs and use it as a complement to the book-research I must do. I cannot imagine every going back to a phone and Selectric, or worse, a manual and carbon paper. (But let’s say I got caught in some third world country with a raging war, yes, I’d know how to do it all). Computers and the internet ARE very important tool, but they are one in the line up of many.

    However, I am very skeptical of the implication being sold that in order become a critical thinker AND an eager learner, that the kids with laptops are going to be at at the top. Forget it. They’re not. Success depends on vision, drive and tenacity.

    Today, my kid’s school has a great technology education course, appropriate for their age. They all get to use a lap top, and the parents don’t have to buy them. I think this is far better. But we have to remember that all this technology is no substitute for other programs that are constantly being stripped away –the arts, physical education, music and even books for our school libraries.

    The high pressure demand to require parents who can ill afford health care plans or even 3-squares a day, to fund a computer is not democratic. It’s not doing what’s best for everyone. It’s only best for those who can afford it.

    I’m not saying do away with laptops in public schools at all. But what I am saying is that we need to take care of the “pitch” we’re giving to parents to sell the naive belief that a computer is going to solve the world’s problems. It’s not.

  15. Frankly, if a private group of citizens wants to get together to raise oodles of money for this program that will give each kid a lap top gratis, then my hat is off to them. Go ahead. Do it. But don’t come whining to the school district when there’s an upgrade needed, or the dang things break.

    I’d rather see them trying to boost programs already in place: healthcare, the school libraries, music, art and physical education.

  16. Well said, Miss K. Yet another example of how these families were pressured and forced into unhealthy financial commitments based on gross exaggerations and in some cases, outright lies.

    Again, there is so much more to this story. Stick around…

  17. I smell a bitter “Chris Thompson” in this post. Maybe because he lost when he ran for School Board. My two boys Kalil and George Bushala have been part of the computer laptop program. I want to thank Jackie Pearce, Hilda and Fisler for the great opportunity to provide this program to my boys. It’s amazing how much they have taught me and my husband Tony Bushala, specially when he was trying to get his power points ready for City council meetings. I’m sure he cannot thank the boys enough for their help! Our future is in technology! without the knowledge on computers you can’t get a job almost anywhere. I wonder how many of you “bloggers” specially the ones that are hiding behind fake names? have children in school? I bet most of you negative bloggers have nothing to do other than attack people that are trying to help our children. Keep in mind nobody is perfect, but at least they are trying to do something positive for the community. Unlike these negative post that just bash people. Dave Zenger are you behind one of those names or maybe two or even three? Or maybe Mr. Chris Thompson aka Mr. Hooka?
    Come on guys COME OUT OF YOUR CLOSET don’t be afraid!!! We want to see who is behind the “names”?

    Poor Mrs. Lamb…..

    Travis I gotta give you credit for putting your “real” name out there.

  18. Freydel Bushala it’s great that your kids taught you how to do a power point, but let me clarify a couple things. Knowing how to do a power point does not equate to critical thinking, involves very little creativity, and often makes kids look like they are actually learning something when they are not.

    You can’t educate kids by throwing money and laptops at them although you may get your own picture in the paper!

  19. Also read comment #12:

    “I’ve seen adults being amazed that their child could put together a slick PowerPoint slideshow on topic like the Constitution, not realizing how easy it is to do. The reality is that kids pick this stuff up with hardly any effort at all, just try stopping them! The 1:1 program is tremendous waste, and those in charge should be ashamed for trying to get parents to foot the bill.”

  20. Mr. Sipowicz in my comment I did state that my boys helped my husband Tony Bushala with the power point presentations for City council meetings. As the President of the Fisler Booster club, I was able to help kids raise money. I don’t “THROW” money and laptops to my kids. No I don’t want my picture in the newspaper. Why is your definition of “creativity” Did you do a research? How do you know kids don’t learn when they have a computer? How many kids do you have?

  21. Mrs. B, I have five children and they read a lot of books. We don’t watch much TV. My wife and I try to teach them that things aren’t true just because you see it on the internet. That’s critical thinking.

    Can any of your kids paint a picture or write a story on their own? I sure hope so. That’s creativity – and it has nothing to do with owning a computer although the two things are not mutually exclusive.

    You don’t educate kids by turning them into your own little consumer products.

  22. B’rni Wewak, “tribal warfare you say? you ain’t seen nothin’ yet”, boy oh boy you weren’t kidding.

    Freydel, the only time I change comments is if someone uses profanities. I’m glad to see you are reading our blog.

    Also, Travis broke this story, and it’s a good story to tell. Technology is in every home and it’s here to stay, there’s no argument there. Our future however, needs to be in the hands of people who can teach people how to think for themselves. Darn near everyone knows how to left & right click, cut & paste, upload, download, google this and google that, heck if I can do it anyone can 🙂

  23. I used to work in a big office. 3 points:

    1. Everyone knew how to make a Powerpoint
    2. None of them had laptops in grade school
    3. Very few of them were critical thinkers.

  24. Mr. Sipowicz I guess you are the exception. Congradulations. I was born and raised in Nicaragua with no computers and I do not know how to paint a picture and we did not own a tv. Who says that things on the internet are true? my kids don’t think so, but a I guess we don’t live in a bubble?

  25. Where did you get certified to give a diagnosis as to what qualifies a person to be a critical thinker? Specially in a “big office” How did you know the “none” of them had laptops in grade school in such a “big office’? Maybe because the program is about 4 or 5 years old. You don’t need to be a “critical thinker” to figure that one out? Right

  26. Mrs. B, I guess you missed my question: can YOUR kids write a story or paint a picture? It’s not about you. Or is it?

  27. As a matter of fact…. yes they can. I guess they now qualified to be “critical thinkers” QUOTE “My wife and I try to teach them that things aren’t true just because you see it on the internet. That’s critical thinking. ” maybe I can teach my boys that things aren’t true because you see them in the internet…. Yeah that’s critical thinking!!! wow…..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *