Is it just my imagination, or does this make absolutely no sense? Benson’s program is a modest version of one begun by Maine last year. Maine gave laptops to 17,000 seventh-graders and 3,000 teachers in all the state’s public middle schools. Maine considers the program a success and this year will expand it to eighth-graders for a total of 33,000 laptops in use despite a projected budget shortfall. Absences, tardiness and disciplinary trips to the principal dropped significantly in one Maine school with the laptops, Benson said.” “If that doesn’t tell you this works, nothing else will,” he said.

Specifically, I’d like to draw your attention to two places.

First, 17,000 seventh-graders received these laptops. I am not quite sure what the average size of a middle school in Maine is, but if it’s anything like Minnesota, there are approximately 1000 7th and 8th graders total per school. This means that there are 500 7th graders per school. Given that Maine gave laptops to 17000 of these kids, this would imply that approximately 34 schools received laptops for their 7th graders.

Second, Benson attempts to link the drop in “absences, tardiness and disciplinary trips to the principals office.” Of course, if 3% of schools didn’t show marked improvement in an area like discipline every year we’d probably abolish public schools altogether. Benson prattles on to say, “If that doesn’t tell you this works, nothing else will.” Well, Gov. Benson, I don’t think anything’s going to convince me.

I don’t see any reason why a seventh grader needs a laptop. I sure as hell didn’t back then (in case you were wondering how old (or young, really) I am, I was in 7th grade during the 1994-1995 school year, which makes me 21 now). I just graduated with a computer science degree, i develop software all day to pay my bills, and I probably wouldn’t be able to figure out movie showtimes without the Internet. Nevertheless, I simply did not need a computer in 7th grade. My family still had one (a Power Mac 6100 running System 7.5), but I never did anything but play Spectre VR and Spin Doctor on it.