The Birmingham News reported last month that more than 15,000 children in Birmingham city schools would receive an XO laptop under a tentative agreement new mayor Larry Langford has reached with the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) foundation, the organization behind the initiative. The computers would be given to every child in grades 1-8 and would cost about $3 million, or roughly $200 apiece.
If reached, the deal would mark a significant development in OLPC’s campaign to transform instruction through the use of technology, because it would open the door for other North American cities to participate. The effort previously had targeted students in developing nations such as Uruguay, Thailand, and Brazil. Until now, it was believed the only way U.S. residents could get their hands on XO machines was through OLPC’s “Give One, Get One” program.
The deal for Birmingham may fall through because of premature publicity, but it brings up an interesting idea. These laptops could be a great solution for meeting the technology needs of grades 1-8 at a relatively small cost. Should South Dakota be looking at this possibility? OLPC appears not interested in negotiating small quantities, so it would take a collaborative effort. South Dakota could make a case as a rural state that is 51st in the nation for school budgets and some of the poorest counties in the nation. Should we be having that discussion?
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