Dallas Dance's $205 million publicity stunt [Letter]

Baltimore County Superintendent Dallas Dance has demonstrated, again, why having a superintendent with virtually no teaching experience a bad idea. His endorsement and the school board's approval of a $205 million initiative to provide a laptop for every teacher and every student in Baltimore County may be one of the most ill-conceived and poorly thought out publicity efforts in recent memory ("Baltimore County school board OKs $205 million technology contract," March 11).

In the years I was a Baltimore County teacher, I cannot recall one year when every text book handed out in August came back in June. Nor can I really ever remember one parent paying for the lost textbook. This isn't anecdotal information; my guess is every teacher in every school system, in every state in the country, will tell you the same thing. And then when text book supplies became too low to give each student a book, teachers' requests for replacements were met with the customary reply, "We don't have the funds."

In a school system where roughly one-third of students qualify for reduced lunch assistance, does BCPS leadership believe parents will be able to replace $1,300 laptop? And when a student loses their laptop, or breaks it, or leaves it home, or sells it, what happens to instruction — you can't really share or photo copy a laptop.

Not to mention the speed at which technology changes will probably make these computers obsolete before the entire program is implemented.

In an effort to get media attention the superintendent is going to fetter Baltimore County with a $200 million obligation and heap more responsibility on teachers, without really understanding the practical aspects of what happens in the schoolhouse.

Spend money on less flashy things like teacher training and support, additional staffing to reduce class size and facility improvement, not to advance "the centerpiece of Superintendent Dallas Dance's initiative."

Ralph L. Sapia, Towson

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