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Obama Wants Broadband, Computers Part of Stimulus 901

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the that-would-stimulate-me dept.
damn_registrars writes "President-elect Barack Obama announced in his radio address that his administration's economic stimulus package will include investing in computers and broadband for education. 'To help our children compete in a 21st century economy, we need to send them to 21st century schools.' He also said it is 'unacceptable' that the US ranks 15th in broadband adoption." No doubt with free spyware and internet filtering. You know... for the kids.
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Obama Wants Broadband, Computers Part of Stimulus

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  • China (Score:4, Insightful)

    by religious freak (1005821) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:46PM (#26034509)
    Yeah, sure will provide a ton of jobs to the Chinese who manufacture these things.

    Not that I believe investing in education is bad, but passing it off as an economic stimulus is disingenuous.
    • Re:China (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Yvanhoe (564877) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:54PM (#26034681) Journal
      You can't pay money to Intel, AMD, ATI, Dell or Microsoft without buying some hardware to Asian manufacturers because this is their business model to have manufactures in Asia. In today's world, it is hard to stimulate one country's economy without stimulating another one. There are some fields where it is possible (construction, restaurants...) but most are tied to foreign manufacturers.

      Note that if giving job to China is an issue, one could prefer Taiwanese makers. I believe the difference is more important than it seems : one is a democracy, the other is not.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        One is a country, the other is not.

      • Re:China (Score:4, Informative)

        by TheLink (130905) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:41PM (#26035599) Journal

        But the Taiwanese may still pass the jobs to China.

        After all they have lots of factories in China[1].

        [1] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/1181993.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    • China Ohio (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fm6 (162816) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:26PM (#26035295) Homepage Journal

      Did you miss the (rather conspicuous) use of the word "broadband"? Our network infrastructure sucks quite badly, and if he's talking about upgrading it, that's a lot of domestic blue-collar jobs.

      If POBE is really serious, he'll look at giving us real broadband, like the premises fibre that Korean consumers enjoy. If he does that, Corning will have to de-mothball a factory or two, and a lot of people will be needed to dig ditches and pull cable. Sounds pretty stimulating to me.

      • Re:China Ohio (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:16PM (#26036261)

        Which is why need to bring back the WPA.

        The ASCE's report card shows that our infrastructure sucks. [asce.org]

        By JUST redoing the bandwidth, we'll probably duplicate efforts later pulling up roads to run wire, etc. Reminds me of a story a friend told me about a town redoing main street. They had a big plan and sent out info to all of the companies with pipes/lines under it. They said if they needed to replace anything, do it now or if they need to replace it before X years, they would foot the entire bill. The center of town got a ton of new fiber, etc.

        I think Bailout and any bailout money we were going to give the Big 3 and rebuild Americas' infrastructure. Bridges, Dams, Power lines, roads. Quite a bit of stuff was built during the great depression putting people to work. After the MN bridge collapse inspectors are coming out of the wood work going "Yeah, these could fail at any time now too."

        Take all those 2.9M employees that are out of work and have them start building shiat. If they want to sit on their Union ass and do nothing, they get nothing. Turn off unemployment. There'll be no shortage of jobs. Pay them what they're actually worth as manual labor. Caterpillar & Deere, the big 2 domestic construction manufacturers would need to increase their workforce (Which is partially union). Truckers would get more work shipping construction supplies and equipment. Mobile home makers would need to up production for temporary housing. Concrete, asphalt, and steel industries would need to up employment to help keep up with demand.

        Along every road and every bridge run fiber, it costs nothing compared to what a new road does, so run a fat pipe to every town in America. The next Wozniak or Linus could be sitting at a place that currently just has 14.4 dial up. Maybe the smartest of the high school students could take part in remote learning at MIT or some where where they'll not be kept behind with the rest of their class.

        In addition, toss a rail line down the center of the interstates. Get a light rail connecting most large cities. Maybe even a 'ferry' service. Need to go to CA? Load your car up on a rail. Go sit in the comfortable seats and in a day. You're in CA.

        Just like all those roads and bridges helped spark the auto boom a decade or so later, in 10-20 years we could really see the economy back on its feet doing something else productive.

  • by Chineseyes (691744) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:46PM (#26034515)
    Was that really necessary to get the story across?
  • No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by m0s3m8n (1335861) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:48PM (#26034543)
    It is a fallacy that you need computers in schools. Teach the kids reading, writing and math skills, the rest can come later. Computers are a drain on schools with already tight budgets. We went to moon with engineers and scientists who did not have computers.
    • Re:No. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by m0s3m8n (1335861) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:50PM (#26034597)
      Edit: We went to moon with engineers and scientists who did not have computers - when they were in school.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        IMO, this is exactly the issue. We should figure out our education problem before we spend money and put more distractions into the schools. Yes, distractions. If you can't READ and you graduate from high school, having a computer isn't going to help you. And, by the way, paying a bureaucratic school system more money isn't going to help education either. Nor is making homeschooling illegal (California has been trying for a long time), making it harder for private schools, putting even more emphasis on

        • Re:No. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Targon (17348) on Monday December 08, 2008 @03:29PM (#26037631)

          The exact issue is that the school system is modeled after the one room schoolhouse. The entire concept of grades K-12 needs to be thrown out, and instead just have each student advance in each subject at his/her own pace. In this way, a student who is good in English but needs math help does not get held back or even looked at strangely.

          Every student will have strengths and weaknesses, so it should be the norm to be several "grades" higher in one or two subjects, and possibly one or two grades lower in one or two subjects. When there is no stigma to having difficulty with a given subject, students will no longer have to hide the fact, and their needs can be addressed.

          With this sort of system, the school system can finally improve. Throwing more money at a system that is clearly broken will not help, but replacing the system with something that will work and then moving students into that new system WOULD.

          It is a sad thing when most people are more willing to replace an old but working computer than they are to replace a clearly broken system. The same applies to Social Security, health care, and everything else. Everyone keeps trying to fix something that is broken beyond repair instead of trying to figure out what to replace these old broken systems with.

      • Re:No. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by visualight (468005) on Monday December 08, 2008 @04:22PM (#26038433) Homepage

        Right, but they also had a much richer school environment. They did not have to suffer through this back to basics, three R's crap that started in the 80's. Creative problem solving, critical thinking, you don't get that with a 'stick to the reading writing and math' regimen.

        When I grew up in the 70's we were always told the Japanese will never be as innovative as we are, in part, because their schools did not teach kids to think creatively while ours did.

        Now, after 25 years of budget cuts and "back to basics" we have to import skilled people because not enough Americans want to be engineers. Am I the only one that looks at that whole picture and thinks "well no shit, look what you did to the schools..."

    • They don't need paper and pens either, the engineers and architects that built the Empire State Building and the Hoover Dam used slates and chalk at school.

      Actually you don't need slate and chalk either...

    • Re:No. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by 0racle (667029) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:00PM (#26034801)
      Computers in schools have been a colossal waste of money. In the 'computer lab' you spend years upon years 'learning Word' and typing. In the classrooms, teachers don't know what to do with the systems so they sit there, the faculty to scared to touch them.

      The school system is broken, throwing magical boxes at the problem won't fix it.
      • Re:No. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by neokushan (932374) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:17PM (#26035125)

        That's not a problem with computers in schools, that's a problem with the teaching syllabus. All too often, the computer classes are just passed off onto general teachers who have, at most, some worthless Microsoft Certificate in Word 97.

        If we taught them more about proper usage of computers, such as basic maintenance (defrag, virus scan, etc.), emails (And the dangers of random attachments), etc. we'd probably save billions on tech support costs just a few short years down the line. I dread to think how much money is wasted on trivial calls to the Tech support line that could have been avoided with some simple, basic knowledge such as this.

        • Re:No. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by hey! (33014) on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:51PM (#26036929) Homepage Journal

          If we taught them more about proper usage of computers, such as basic maintenance (defrag, virus scan, etc.), emails (And the dangers of random attachments), etc. we'd probably save billions on tech support costs just a few short years down the line.

          On the other hand, if we taught them to be less passive when it comes to acquiring and using knowledge to solve problems, we wouldn't have to teach them about system janitorial tasks that are apt to be obsolete in a few years.

          For example, if you teach them to question the information they receive, to think about it critically, then you protect them not only against email scams, you protect them against future forms of scamming. Such critical thinking skills might have undesirable political consequences, I suppose.

          Likewise if you teach students to take initiative in solving problems, they will be able to handle whatever the equivalent of "defragging a hard drive" is in 2050.

          The way I see it, too much of school reform is focused on "things kids should know". While by in large this is a good thing, students ought to have some experience of setting the fact finding agenda themselves. I don't think everybody should get out of high school with a working knowledge of electronics, but it should be possible that any student might acquire such a knowledge in the process of pursing other educational goals.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by joggle (594025)

        Depends on your profession. I was fortunate to attend a school that had a computer lab that allowed me to learn how to program on my own time (my family couldn't afford a computer at home at the time).

        If you come from a poor family having computers at school is a real boon. I don't think studious kids should be punished by not being allowed access to computers due to the majority not using them for educational purposes.

        I also don't think the school system is broken. There's nothing stopping kids from going

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DragonWriter (970822)

        Computers in schools have been a colossal waste of money. In the 'computer lab' you spend years upon years 'learning Word' and typing.

        In school, using computers I learned BASIC programming, Logo, the relation between frequency and musical notes, binary arithmetic, and quite a lot else -- and that's just 4th through 6th grade, in the 1980s, without the internet (or any other kind of net.) The problem's I've seen in recent years in schools with computers is that we've vastly expanded the number of computers i

      • Re:No. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by geekmux (1040042) on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:36PM (#26036633)

        Computers in schools have been a colossal waste of money. In the 'computer lab' you spend years upon years 'learning Word' and typing. In the classrooms, teachers don't know what to do with the systems so they sit there, the faculty to scared to touch them. The school system is broken, throwing magical boxes at the problem won't fix it.

        If you have staff to afraid to touch the "magical boxes", then hire more competent staff. Damn, hire some young teachers who actually grew up with computers and tech and are proficient enough with them to at least not be afraid to USE them.

        And for all you teachers sitting around dreaming about the good old days when you used to be able to use a paper gradebook instead of this "newfangled online thing", wake up. You need to learn to use technology just as bad as your students. If you refuse, then don't be surprised when you get replaced by someone who is willing to adapt.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Agreed. Simply putting a computer in a classroom has no effect. Without incorporating it's use as part of the curriculum, what is most likely to happen is that it will sit there unused. There also has to be the support in place to maintain them.
    • Schools teach more that just math, reading and writing...
      Schools needs to teach how to use computers too... Schools educates kids how to interact as a part of society. I think adults who can type on a keyboard, have bigger issues, than those who can't write an entire sentence grammatically correct...
      Today, you can't even get a monkey job at a factory unless you can count and type the number of totally identical items you've produced any given day ...
  • by netsavior (627338) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:48PM (#26034545)
    "To help our children compete in a 21st century economy"

    It's bad enough that I have to compete with cheap "offshore" labor, now I gotta compete against someone willing to work for pokemon cards??
  • Great (Score:5, Funny)

    by LilGuy (150110) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:48PM (#26034551)

    It would be great if the local cable or phone company could run their lines just 1 block further from my nearest neighbor so I could get broadband.

    Maybe Obama can make it happen!

    • Re:Great (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Spazztastic (814296) <spazztastic@NOSPaM.gmail.com> on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:50PM (#26034599)

      It would be great if the local cable or phone company could run their lines just 1 block further from my nearest neighbor so I could get broadband.

      Maybe Obama can make it happen!

      Or Obama can help find where that 200 billion dollars went.

      http://www.newnetworks.com/ShortSCANDALSummary.htm [newnetworks.com]

    • Re:Great (Score:4, Interesting)

      by slyn (1111419) <ozzietheowl@gmail.com> on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:19PM (#26035171)

      I've always wondered if there was some way that consumers could "get back" at the telecoms for sucking so hard.

      Can someone file a class action lawsuit or something along those lines for the telecoms failing to serve the taxpayer/consumer despite being given so much aid from the government? Maybe throw in some analogy of how the banks over-sold the consumers with loans which led to a real estate crash and how the telecoms are over-selling the consumers with bandwidth which could potentially lead to an infrastructure crash. Add in a last quip about how their lazyness is what is causing the whole discussion of all protocols/websites/whatevers being equal in the idea of net neutrality and how if they just did their jobs the way they were supposed to the first time.

      Could solve all our problems in one fell swoop!

  • by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:49PM (#26034581)
    He also wants to use broadband for health care facilities.

    Since I know that most of you don't RTFA and the summary is lacking that point, I figured I'd point it out.
  • ummm why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by larry bagina (561269) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:50PM (#26034609) Journal

    In grade school, we had a handful of Apple IIs (for AppleWorks, Oregeon Trail, Reader rabbit, and a few other educational titles). In high school, the library had a couple computers for the card catalog and CD-ROM encyclopedia, and there were a couple GW Basic/word processing rooms. So why do students need the internet for learning? Wikipedia is nice, but most schools are (rightfully) banning it. Instead of teaching math, should they just give out calculators and provide training for how to press the buttons on a McRegister? If people are graduating high school with a 6th grade level education, all the broadband in the world won't help them.

    • by netsavior (627338) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:10PM (#26034979)

      Instead of teaching math, should they just give out calculators and provide training for how to press the buttons on a McRegister?

      No offense, but if you think that you can do Math on a calculator, your arguements for better education are kinda weakened. Calculators (yes even graphing ones) are a way to get around the tedium of simple arithmetic, a way to skip past the dark ages and get to the meat of critical, logical thinking.

      I analyze water flow patterns as it relates to insurance risk for a living... a mathematical job to be sure. When calculating the trajectory of a projected river overflow, I grab my scientific calculator, and I think back in sympathy for my 4th grade self, who was tortured by moronic ciriculum focused on creating mindless times table memorization, which I could not do...

      The main advantage humans have over other animals is that our history and our technology make it possible to learn in one lifetime what could not otherwise be possible in a hundred lifetimes. "Back to basics" is how humanity self-destructs. Give them a pile of computers, have them teach the teacher.

      • by Helios1182 (629010) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:27PM (#26035337)

        Instead of teaching math, should they just give out calculators and provide training for how to press the buttons on a McRegister?

        No offense, but if you think that you can do Math on a calculator, your arguements for better education are kinda weakened. Calculators (yes even graphing ones) are a way to get around the tedium of simple arithmetic, a way to skip past the dark ages and get to the meat of critical, logical thinking.

        I think that was his point. Teaching them to hit buttons on a calculator isn't math. Giving them a computer isn't learning.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fm6 (162816)

      If you see "educational computing" as playing Oregon Trail and using a CD-ROM encyclopedia, then I guess it is no big deal. But that assumes that students just have access to a couple of non-networked computers at the back of the room that they get to use for a couple of hours a week. That approach stopped making sense about the time the Apple II was discontinued. Real educational computing means that students use computers in every single class. In the hard sciences, they use them to do complex calculation

  • Eh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Yunzil (181064) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:51PM (#26034613) Homepage

    No doubt with free spyware and internet filtering. You know... for the kids.

    Slashdot: News For Nerds (That Can Never Be Happy About Anything)

  • by cowscows (103644) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:52PM (#26034651) Journal

    How many people here are truly opposed to some sort of filtering in computers in school? While the idea of some sort of imposed filter on my internet connection at home is very bothersome to me, I don't have a problem with attempts to keep inappropriate material off of computers in schools.

    My biggest concern about it would be that generally the filtering systems aren't that hard to work around, so hopefully the school systems won't waste money buying into a really expensive product that ends up not working any better than a cheaper alternative.

  • by fredmosby (545378) on Monday December 08, 2008 @12:53PM (#26034661)

    1. Take a bunch of money out of the economy.

    2. Shuffle it though an inefficient bureaucracy .

    3. Put what remains back into the economy.

    4. ???

    5. Economic recovery.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gad_zuki! (70830)

      >Shuffle it though an inefficient bureaucracy .

      Wait, so AT&T and Comcast are efficient non-bureaucracies? Hahaha. Sounds like you've never worked for a big business.

      Lets see, on top of all the handouts and monopolies they are granted they still cant build out capacity. In fact, the US is the world leader on filtering out and curbing torrent packets! So when the government FINALLY decides to move in and do something about it, we get more whining from slashdotters. Sigh.

    • by WiglyWorm (1139035) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:08PM (#26034943) Homepage
      1. Take money out of the top of the economy where it just curculates around buying luxury yahts, private jets, etc.
      2. Put money in to the bottom of the economy where it buys things like houses, cars, TVs, and flows back up to the top
      3. Economic Recovery

      As much as people like to bash "tax and spend liberals" the economy and stock market historically does better when one is in office.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pete-classic (75983)

        Right, because overweight, cigar smoking, filthy rich Republicans build yachts and fuel private jets.

        It would be neat if your understanding of economics was less . . . cartoonish.

        -Peter

      • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:59PM (#26035945) Journal

        1) Who do you think builds Yachts, Jets etc?

        I remember way back when (10-15 years ago), a certain Bill Clinton Administration passed a "Luxury Tax" on such things. The logic was that the rich will just keep buying these things even if they taxed them to death. Reality was that they had to rescind the tax when the workers for the companies making those thing lost their job. Not a single rich person lost their job. Taxes only hurt the poor, regardless of who you think you're punishing.

        2) The Top of the economy buys things from the bottom of the economy, and hires them to service the rich.

        The problem isn't the rich, in spite of Obama and the left. The poor will always be with us. Looking around here in the USA, Most of those called "poor" aren't really "poor", especially when compared to the truly impoverished in the rest of the world.

        I care more about opportunity than I care about people being poor. Opportunity to succeed and be successful. To that end, each and every regulation government imposes limits the ability of one to succeed. True economic justice doesn't punish success (taxes, regulation), True economic justice means the little guy has as much opportunity to succeed as the big guys. Let me know when a true startup or small mom/pop company can make a car, without being regulated to death before they even start.

        3) Economic Recovery can only happen when we start imposing the same restrictions on imported goods as found on goods produced in the US (or where ever you are). The reason we offshore is because there is economic advantage to. When we can't make electronics in the US because of environmental, worker safety, and wage laws make it non-feasible to do so, but China has no such problems, of course all of our stuff will be made in China.

        AND as long as Walmart and others only want "cheap" goods, it will remain so. Neither the (R) or (D) understand this. Because both want more regulation.

        And before you start saying "evil corporations", corporations are neither evil or good. They are built to make money for their owners, which often times are you (Stocks, bonds, pension funds, 401K etc). And you are buying their products. People are evil or good.

        Choose Good .... everytime.

    • by StevenMaurer (115071) on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:45PM (#26036801) Homepage

      The overhead of private health insurers averages 35%. The overhead of Medicare is 3%.

      The median tuition for their member private day schools in 2005-2006 in the United States was close to $14,000 for grades 1 to 3, $15,000 for grades 6 to 8 and $16,600 for grades 9 to 12. Public schools average cost per student is $13340, and they take everyone, including the very expensive special-needs kids.

      The problem with government run programs is not that they're inefficient. They're nearly always more efficient, because they don't have to make profit, and culturally it's unacceptable for the chief officers to self-deal like US CEOs do.

      The real problem with government programs is that they're inflexible and rarely innovative. Which means they should only be used for industries for which there is a known, steady, need: Libraries, Schools, Roads, Bridges, Power, Healthcare, a bare-minimum forced retirement savings program (Social Security). Everything else should be done privately.

      Oh, I know. Taco did his snark, and you were modded +5 Insightful, because of the Republican/Libertarian cult of the CEO. But just remember that if you're ideology actually worked, Obama wouldn't have to be working so hard to bail us out of the economic mess you got us into.

  • by crucini (98210) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:02PM (#26034817)

    I work with lots of good Chinese and Indian software engineers. Most never saw a computer before University. They did have a rigorous and old-fashioned education, with lots of math and logic.

    I also know talented hackers who got into programming as kids/teenagers, and benefited from the fast dev cycle of Apples, TRS-80s, etc.

    But giving kids the latest and greatest computers is not going to help anything. The important stuff can be learned on a 486.

    Chinese and Indian schools value the academic achievers, while American schools value the funny, the athletic and the socially gifted. That is why those countries are beating us.

  • Here's an idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PeeAitchPee (712652) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:06PM (#26034905)
    Use that money to give cash payouts to the teachers (not the schools) whose kids have the greatest degree of improvement in their region, with "improvement" defined as a conrete metric. Here in Baltimore, for example, the city has a graduation rate of approximately 40%, and our literacy rate is also very low. Stupid investments in "broadband" and "computers" won't help these kids, but highly incented teachers just might. The teachers' unions would never stand for it (in fact they'd label it discriminatory), but you need highly skilled, motivated people to reach these kids on a one-on-one basis. If cash can attract the best folks for the job, I say go for it. They've tried everything else here for decades, including paying the students themselves for good grades, and nothing has worked.
  • by starglider29a (719559) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:08PM (#26034951)
    Have them log into Monster.com, et al, and see what the salaries are for various fields, including jobs for those with a "mere diploma", and they will become more interested in College Prep and getting good grades.
  • by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:08PM (#26034957) Homepage Journal

    So, we go from a guy who cuts taxes and then over-spends to a guy who won't cut taxes but still over-spends. Time will tell, but I have a feeling that Obama's spending will exceed Bush's, just as George "Smaller Government" Bush's exceeded Clinton's. I have a feeling Obama's will be roughly in proportion to the difference in their tax policies. I suppose this is an improvement. Kinda.

    What will it take for the electorate to become too ashamed (or at least angry) to keep voting for these people? To paraphrase Penn Jillette, if we keep voting for the lesser of two evils and we're just going to keep getting evil.

    -Peter

  • by tripdizzle (1386273) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:13PM (#26035039)
    A student's diet and sleeping habits are much more important than having a computer with broadband. Can we get a stimulus that promises a well-balanced diet and a Posturepedic bed for all??
  • by sp3d2orbit (81173) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:18PM (#26035149)

    When Obama announced that he was going to start the largest public works program since the Interstate system, I thought he might be talking about an interstate high speed rail network.

    Though, after looking through his proposal, I don't see anything about high speed trains. I think a train network would kill many birds with one stone:

    - it would provide a fast alternative to flying, which I hate.
    - it would cut down on carbon emissions since trains are much more efficient than cars or planes.
    - it could do for the country what the interstate system did in the last half of the last century.
    - it would create lots of jobs spread out across the country

  • Defending Obama... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowskyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:27PM (#26035329) Homepage Journal

    Oh my Gosh. Here I am the most right wing guy on slashdot and I'm about to go and defend Obama's proposals for infrastructure spending in general, and national broadband and school computing in particular.

    a. ubiquity creates new industries. If broadband is something nearly everyone has in the USA, then, you have a much easier time making a business case for a new kind of service. The USA has built railroads with federal help before, knowing that putting railroads would pump the economy, and it did. Then, roads did the same thing. Broadband won't be any different.

    b. computers in schools works. Yes, a lot of kids play games on school computers but there will be those kids who are not as well off but interested in learning to program that will use them. I know I'm grateful to all the computer stores and schools back in the 1980s that let me learn programming in the lab and I think that there's other kids like me out there.

    Note that I wouldn't restrict this to just computers. I would like to see schools have shop classes with real presses, CNC machines, and other tools of the art so that kids can get some hands on real things prior to joining the real world.

    c. My stock retort to other conservatives that would oppose this government spending would be, you had no problem spending 2.5T on building schools and broadband in Iraq, but why can't you support that in the USA?

    d. Hands on experience in computing and manufacturing is a national security issue. The USA needs to know how to manufacture its own goods. I would offer as exhibit A, World War II. It's handy for national security when you have a ton of manufacturing centers that can be quickly converted to produce for wartime needs. Indeed, has the USA had a better manufacturing base, maybe we wouldn't have had to wait for five years and four thousand dead to get decent armoured vehicles into combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    By extension, those who pine for the old cold war days with Russian and for a stronger NATO should also be reminded that a part of our military obligation to our alliance partners is to have an economy capable of sustaining manufacturing in the event our allied economies are destroyed. It benefits Europe if the USA is capable of manufacturing its own products as that know-how can be shared with the continent.

    So yeah, I think Obama's on the right track with a big infrastructure stimulus. I think Republicans would be better suited to argue what to build, rather than not to build at all, given that they already blew several times Obama's figure on rebuilding Iraq.

  • by bADlOGIN (133391) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:31PM (#26035391) Homepage

    My wife is a HS English teacher in Washington state. If Obama want to seriously help schools, priority 1 should be to put a bullet in Bush's collossal screw up that is "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB). It's too flawed to "fix" other than flat out removal. Bush has been too stupid to admit it's a failure and correct it (just like everything else he's done), so this is the only option.

    Next, in Washington state there's a bill called the Becca bill that requires the little monsters to be contained by the state in schools up until age 18 because some stupid brat ran away from school and got herself killed. Unfortunately, this also means that kids that would rather quit and go jockey a McRegister between times passing the bong are instead required to stay in school and suck up resources they don't care about. Get rid of this in Washington state (and similar laws in other states) and teachers can look the kids in the eye and tell them to leave and come back when (if) they care about learning something.
    Then, get back to helping the kids that are going to do something with themselves.

    Last but not least, get rid of the stupid state teaching certificates in all 50 flavors. There's a shockingly fantastic National Board Certification (federal gov't too... go figure!) program that uses a peer evaluation system to focus teachers on becoming good teachers IN PRACTICE in their own environment. My wife did this certification and is now contributing to the mentoring portion. Interestingly enough, teachers who can't "reach these keeds" don't cut it in these programs because it requires them to learn, grow, and be self-reflective about how they teach and continue to grow, unlike the the rubber stamp Master's degree (a.k.a "Masters in Ed.") programs that set teachers up for either a check-mark in the "has masters" box and unwarranted pay raise or a future as yet another worthless administrator (and a MUCH greater unwarranted pay raise).

    Bottom line, schools need more funding to train and retain good teachers. "Education" has a latin root word "educare" meaning "to bring out". It's not about throwing stuff at kids and hoping it sticks. It's about bringing out the best. You've never needed broadband or computers to do that.

  • by grandpa-geek (981017) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:38PM (#26035533)

    Installing advanced broadband in schools and hospitals is similar to a plan being implemented in Canada for rolling out advanced broadband nationwide. (By advanced broadband, I mean gigabit or better, bidirectional.)

    Connecting public facilities provides an infrastructure that can later be extended to homes and small businesses. New York State, under a project that involved Cornell University, either studied or actually implemented a multi-school-district network that allows enriched and advanced courses to be taught remotely that could not be justified for an individual school.

    Broadband installation in hospitals enables telemedicine, in which expert remote consultation is available for difficult cases, and lays the groundwork for installing an advanced hospital information system network. Such a network would cut costs and improve performance in medicine. I've been told there are two excellent hospital information systems in existence, one developed by Kaiser and the other developed by the Veterans Administration and available as open source software.

    Finally, someone is listening to what has been discussed for many years and is working to get it done.

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:40PM (#26035581)

    ...why don't you give us teachers:

    --Money for books and basic school supplies (paper, binders, text books).

    --Salary budgets so we can have more than one specialist (Gym, Music, Art, reading) per 4 elementary schools. These specialists spend their lives going from one school to the next

    --Librarians. Most in our district were 'let go' due to budgetary reasons and now parents/volunteers are doing the work. Parents/volunteers are no replacement for someone with 20yrs of experience as a librarian.

    --Raises so we can live within 30miles of our school (same goes for Firefighters and Police officers).

    I don't need computers when I'm teaching YOUR kids how to read and write, when I barely have enough for books and have to buy school supplies (dry erase markers, paper, binders) out of my own pocket.

    Obama is talking about broadband because it's "Sexy". It wouldn't get any attention if he said, "I'm going to make sure all of our teachers have enough textbooks, paper and supplies to teach our kids how to read, write and do arithmetic." Why doesn't he say this, because schools are funded at the state level.... and the towns/states referendums for tax increases to pay for this equipment (books/pencils) are voted down, year after year. The only schools around here that have sufficient supplies are in the higher income towns because the parents are willing to donate $5000....

    • by tsstahl (812393) on Monday December 08, 2008 @02:57PM (#26037059)
      Maybe you should talk to your administration and union before asking ME for more money.

      Why, in addition to my property taxes, do I have to provide a mandatory school supply list designed to keep the teacher in chalk AND kids who can't afford to buy their own crap? I give to charity in church. "charity" in public school is just a hidden tax.

      Four years ago when my local school board was crying for more money, I attended one of their open hearings. I asked quite simply, have you done any auditing internal or external of current spending. The answer was 'no'. The referendum didn't pass. Yet, the darn fire department got their first new truck in 20 years (ok, 18, but still).

      In exchange for higher pay, are you willing to work 8 hours a day doing community service in the summer? The union screamed high holy murder when this was suggested.

      In summary, look in before out. You might find a more receptive crowd around election time if you can demonstrate real belt tightening and real reform efforts aimed at the primary mission of educating children instead of bureaucracy growing and union power building.

      Of course, I know you specifically are not the root of evil, but as a poster child simply asking for more money is NOT the way to go.
  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Monday December 08, 2008 @01:41PM (#26035615)

    So y'all quit your yapping.

    Or does free government broadband smell and taste like free government cheese?

    Ick.

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