Cobb Laptop Saga Comes to an End?

Cobb County (GA.) Schools Superintendent Joseph Redden announced his resignation today (free registration or BugMeNot). Is it just me, or does this passage seem a little less “newsy” and more opinionated?

Redden’s departure from the 104,000-student system surprises few, if any. Redden had defended himself and his staff of wrongdoing after a critical report on the bidding process for what would have been one of the nation’s largest efforts to provide laptop computers to students. But his situation had become increasingly dysfunctional.The ambitious program proposed by Redden in February would eventually have provided computers for all the school system’s teachers and all students in grades six through 12. In unveiling the idea, Redden chose to emphasize the magnitude of the program rather than the incremental steps that might have been an easier sell.

After a divisive public debate, a lawsuit brought by a former county commissioner stopped the program last month, not on its merits but on the plan to fund it with proceeds from a special sales tax approved in 2003. Then, Aug. 14, came the stinging report by a corporate investigator alleging bias and deception in the bidding process for the contract that had been won by Apple Computer.

Most of the buzz in the education blogosphere seemed to indicate that many educators felt Cobb should have been able to get the laptops. I live in the next county over from Cobb, and I teach at a private school. I still can’t figure out how this would have been affordable. We have about 150 students, and we can’t afford to get them laptops. Cobb has over 100,000 students.

Other than that, from personal experience, I can say it’s great when students have laptops. There are a few who try to abuse it — play solitaire or IM — but for the most part, it really helps them organize and neaten up their work.

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