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Maine Task Force Recommends State-Purchased Computers for Students

February 09, 2001

In a follow-up to Maine Governor Angus King’s call for every 7th grader to have a laptop computer that they would use in school and could take home, the Task Force on the Maine Learning Technology Endowment has recommended that every student and teacher in the 7th through 12th grades be provided with computers that would be wireless and portable. The computers could be used in the classroom and, pending school district permission, be taken home. 

Last year, Governor King proposed spending $50 million to purchase laptops for every 7th grader. In response, the Legislature created a $50 million endowment and created the Task Force to make recommendations for how learning technology could be better incorporated in the classroom. 

The Task Force report outlines a phased-in strategy that would start with the 2002-2003 school year. The initial phase would target the 32,500 students and 2,330 teachers at the 7th and 8th grade levels. Expansion to grades 9-12 would be dependent on third-party fundraising or improved revenue and cost projections. Students and teachers would be provided with a computer that could operate as a stand-alone, non-networked device, but could be connected to the statewide network; be wireless and portable; and would be “rugged, tamper-resistant, and energy efficient.” The schools would own the devices and determine the policies governing home use of the devices. 

Saying the plan “goes well beyond a simple proposal to purchase machines,” the Task Force report also makes recommendations on professional development for teachers, the creation of a statewide network that the computers could connect to, and how technical support will be provided. 

The Task Force report can be found at: http://www.state.me.us/legis/opla/MLTErpt.PDF