Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Maine Gov. LePage considered killing school laptop program

My story in today's Portland Press Herald reveals that Gov. Paul LePage wanted to end the state's laptops in schools program, but was talked out of it by his education commissioner.

Internal documents show LePage's concerns and Bowen's successful argument that they should at least put a request for proposals out to renew the program, as they could still shut the program down if they didn't like the bids they received.

There's also continued confusion among schools as to how much various technologies will cost under the new contract, which would go into effect in the fall. This contract has been delayed for months -- and still isn't fully concluded -- as Gov. LePage studied (and overrode) the evaluations of the five semi-finalist bids.

Maine's laptops-in-schools program was the first in the nation to give each and every public school middle school student and teacher a laptop. Many districts have chosen to buy additional devices for their high school students at the reduced bulk prices negotiated by the state.

A correction to note: the print edition quotes LePage's spokesperson Adrienne Bennett saying he had "specific concerns with non-Windows systems". That should have read LePage had no specific concerns. (Apologies to Bennett for that typo.)

[Update, 9/5/13: Here's how the initial deployment went.]

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