Computers also become a family resource, providing tools for parents seeking employment
AUGUSTA – Leading yet again on the integration of laptops into the classroom, Maine is preparing to expand its student laptop program into the high school, providing laptops for school-related use to every public high school student in the state. Maine, which was the first state to provide laptops to all seventh- and eighth-graders, will be the first to provide them statewide at the high school level.
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The expansion is part of an agreement the state Department of Education negotiated with Apple Inc. for a reduced rate on the laptops, allowing the state to lease 100,000 machines within existing funds dedicated to educational technology. Under the agreement, the state will provide new laptops to all high schoolers and replace older machines at the middle school level. School districts are not required to participate in the program, though superintendents have indicated overwhelming support for the laptop expansion.
Governor John Baldacci announced the expansion during his State of the State address Tuesday night to the Maine Legislature. Maine first deployed laptops in grades 7 and 8 in 2002, though the law that established the initiative has always called for laptops in the high school, as well.
An important aspect of the deployment of the laptops is a focus on making them an economic development tool for parents, too. The computers will come with software that links parents to state Department of Labor services, including their Career Centers.
“We are going to revamp our laptop program and turn it into a powerful tool for the entire family,” Governor Baldacci said. “Every night when students in seventh through 12th-grade bring those computers home, they’ll connect the whole family to new opportunities and new resources.”
Commissioner Gendron, who led the negotiations with Apple, said laptops are essential to successful 21st century classrooms and schools.
“Laptops have been shown to engage our students, and initial research shows they improve student achievement, particularly in writing,” she said. “Using technology in this way helps prepare our students for the jobs of today and tomorrow, and are in line with President Obama’s challenge to build 21st century classrooms. We are proud in Maine to once again be leading the nation in innovative and bold steps to prepare our students for college, career and citizenship.”
Gendron said, “The laptops will become powerful tools at the high school level, providing increased access to information, a powerful tool for simulations and modeling and ideal for students, especially in rural schools, to take classes they would not otherwise be able to access.”
- For more information on the laptops initiative, visit http://www.maine.gov/mlti.
- David Connerty-Marin | Maine Department of Education | 207-624-6880