So it seems that the superintendent has decided to change the computer deal in the middle of the year. But of course he hasn’t decided to share it with any, you know, legally responsible adult.
Instead, he’s decided to just threaten children and have third graders walking around wondering what they have done wrong.
If you remember, back in the summer there was much confusion over the agreement that parents were being ordered to sign for their children to take home the computer that they were being forced to use. There was no getting around this agreement. When we asked if we could use our own computer instead of the school’s computer, we were told:
HCS cannot support other computers. Feel free to buy your own computer; however, we have to use the HCS imaged computers in our schools. They are set up to be used in our schools – they have to go through our servers/filters. We won’t maintain any computers besides HCS devices.
In other words, if you have a child in Huntsville City Schools, you have no choice. You must pay a “$35 User Fee” and you must use the school’s computer.
Remember how the agreement that we were asked to sign ended up being different from the one that was posted on the website? The original one was dated, July 23, 2012 and had an introductory paragraph that read:
A computer power cord and carrying case will be issued to students to support the 1:1 Technology Initiative being implemented in Huntsville City Schools. The student curriculum will be accessible digitally for all core subject areas, on the computer. The computer should be kept away from food and drinks and stored in its carrying case when not in use. Computer Lab Technicians will assist with hardware and software troubleshooting and support. There will be a $35.00 user fee to help cover repairs and or replacements. The school district will help make special accommodations for free and reduced lunch students.
However once parents began picking up the devices, they noticed that the agreement they were being asked to sign had changed to this:
In support of the 1:1 Digital Learning Initiative being implemented in Huntsville City Schools, students will receive a computer, power cord and carrying case. The student curriculum will be accessible digitally for all core subject areas, on the computer. Parents/guardians and students must review and sign this contract. Parents unwilling to sign the contract must assume responsibility for student’s being able to gain access to the digital curriculum. Computer Lab Technicians will assist with hardware and software troubleshooting and support. There will be a $35.00 user fee to help cover repairs. The school district will provide accommodations for free and reduced lunch students and any student attending Title I Schools. The cost to replace the Netbook computer for Grades 3 is $250. The cost to replace the laptop for Grades 4-12 is $600.
From the beginning the district was either constantly changing the agreement or refusing to be upfront with parents about the agreement they were entering into.
But that was the agreement that we signed, and that was the agreement that is applicable for the 2012-2013 school year.
Except, now, as always, Dr. Wardynski has decided to change the agreement, again.
Beginning last week when students turned on their computers, they were suddenly greeted with a new desktop background as seen above. Included on that background is the following statement:
This device is the property of Huntsville City School Board of Education, a political subdivision of the Alabama State Department of Education. It has been provided to you, as a student of the Huntsville City School District, in order to enhance your educational achievement through utilization of District-approved digital curriculum. Intentional misuse of this device (including destruction, defacement, installation of unauthorized software, or download of unauthorized programs) may result in disciplinary action including expulsion and a fine of up to $750.00) [sic]
That’s right. The cost of replacing your child’s laptop or netbook (this screen shot also appears on the netbook) has jumped from either $250/$600 to $750. And in addition to that, actions that were listed as Class II violations (suspension) have now, automatically, been raised to a Class III violation (expulsion).
Does anyone else have the feeling that this wonderful, amazing 1:1 Digital Initiative just keeps getting worse all the time? Remember when the superintendent constantly underestimated the cost of the Digital Curriculum by four million dollars? Remember when Wardynski claimed that everyone would have wireless access to the curriculum, even though the network regularly and consistently crashed during the first half of the school year? Remember when Wardynski called a parent’s suggestion that this conversion should be handled in a more judicious fashion, “ludicrous” and “absurd?”
Well, it seems that the superintendent has decided to change the ground rules yet again.
Honestly, is there any promise, any agreement, that this man won’t break? I feel like Lando making a deal with Darth Vader and hearing Vader say, “I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.”
There’s a board meeting Thursday night, February 21st at 5:30pm at the Merts Building. While most of the meeting will be broadcast, the citizens’ comments will not. If you want to hear what your fellow citizens have to say to the board, you’ll have to join us in person for the meeting. Hope to see you there.