EDITORIAL/Laptops for the classroom
Wednesday, July 16, 2014 1:00 PM
It's taken nearly a decade, and several million dollars, but the Madison County School District was able to pull the trigger and supply every high schooler in the district with a laptop.
Beginning this fall, high schoolers and teachers will forego traditional notebooks and chalkboards for state-of-the-art Macbook Airs and Apple TVs.
The digital initiative has been the brainchild of Superintendent Dr. Ronnie McGehee for 10 years, but the circumstances were never ideal. That all changed this year and the years of planning are evident.
A lot of credit goes to McGehee, the School Board, and the parents who continue to support the district. A lot can be learned from this new endeavor, too.
This new venture is being done without raising taxes. It's being done without raiding the coffers. It's being done without issuing bonds or creating PIDs or TIFs. It's being done because the officials in charge had the foresight to save and plan.
That is something that other school districts - and even the Madison County Board of Supervisors - could take note of.
You see, it would have been real easy for McGehee to commission a million-dollar study to see if this was an effective program. It would have been easy for him to ask for a raise in taxes to purchase the equipment. It would have been real easy for him to ask for a loan.
Instead, the school district did what government should do - they remained within their limitations, planned, and bought when the timing was right.
This next school year, over 4,000 high schoolers from Velma Jackson in the north to Ridgeland High School in the south will have an advantage over other students across the states. Teens who have grown up in the digital age will now be learning in the digital age. They will be more prepared for colleges that teach in the digital age and workforces that operate in the digital age.
High schoolers are not the only ones benefitting from this program either. The middle schools and elementary schools will all have access to other computers, in different platforms. By the time a student makes his or her way through the public school system in Madison County, they will have learned how to use a multitude of devices.
There is a reason our public school district continues to churn out some of the brightest students in the state.
We've had excellent leaders in the past like superintendent Mike Kent who managed money and planned well.
To be sure, there's still a place for printed books - even newspapers - but these laptops will open up a whole new universe for many in our public schools.