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Education United States

School Internet Program Audit Shows Fraud and Waste 387

Posted by michael
from the information-superhighway-is-a-toll-road dept.
uid0mako writes "CNN is reporting on the abuses of E-rate. E-rate is a government-sponsored program that provides discounted Internet access and internal connection gear such as wiring, adaptors and servers to underprivileged schools. One of the incidents includes $24 million spent on 74000 wireless network cards that never left the loading dock."
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School Internet Program Audit Shows Fraud and Waste

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  • Do tell!!!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by dreamchaser (49529) on Friday June 18, 2004 @08:54AM (#9461915) Homepage Journal
    What, fraud and corruption in a government run program paid for by the little guy? I find this so hard to believe!

    *note to the sarcasm imparied: my tongue was firmly in cheek.
    • by Tackhead (54550) on Friday June 18, 2004 @10:39AM (#9462894)
      > What, fraud and corruption in a government run program paid for by the little guy? I find this so hard to believe!

      Still more evidence that we live in a culture of the people versus the powerful! To compensate for the waste in the programme, and to ensure that children not on the loading docks of the powerful can also ride on the information superhighway, we must double funding for this program immediately! The American people are big-hearted enough to know that it's right to chip in a couple more bucks a month on their phone bills. It's for the children!

      > *note to the sarcasm imparied: my tongue was firmly in cheek.

      I see your sarcasm and raise you cynicism.

      Prediction: We see my sarcastic comment used - without sarcasm - in the John Kerry campaign this summer.

      Side bet: After we see the Kerry spot, the Bush campaign uses the same text, but replaces the "people versus the powerful" and "ride the information superhighway" phrases with "not be left behind on the information superhighway".

  • by antic (29198) on Friday June 18, 2004 @08:55AM (#9461918)
    Who said that they needed to leave the loading dock? Aren't they wireless?

    Har.

  • by wishiwascool (60898) on Friday June 18, 2004 @08:56AM (#9461922)
    24000000 / 74000 = ~$324/NIC

    guess they weren't buying Netgear cards at that price... ouch!
    • from cnn: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ikea5 (608732)
      from cnn: The cards were purchased in 1999 for about $24 million, including supposed installation charges. The price is with installation charges included.
    • You know, the sad thing is that of the $24M, a good chunk of it was probably the cost of storing the things.

      What I don't understand is why they would horde such a huge number of cards in the first place. I mean, 74,000 NICs is enough for every student at 2 large universities to get one. Somehow, while I feel that many public schools could use these things, it sure would take quite a few of them to get rid of 74k (at least, the ones who use them right).
      • by Servo (9177)
        Having worked in an educational environment before (community college), my guess is that the reason why they sat unused is because they didn't have the computers to put them in.

        It is typical to do some sort of political purchase like this as to "spend money to look good" but then the tech types get involved and realize they just ordered 74k wireless cards for 200 386's.
    • by Sancho (17056) on Friday June 18, 2004 @09:30AM (#9462214) Homepage
      The prices probably included thousands--if not millions--of feet of wireless ethernet cable.
    • Have you ever bid on a government project in Puerto Rico? We did once. The RFP was so full of irregularities that inidicated the process was corrupt that we complained and the whole thing got shut down. It was clear that the winner of the process had been selected before the search began and they were local and weren't qualified to do the work. This sort of thing happens all over, but the most blatant case I ever saw was in PR.
  • by ArbiterOne (715233) on Friday June 18, 2004 @08:56AM (#9461927) Homepage
    ... with 74000 wireless network cards? Creating an geomagnetic field disturbance for science class?
  • by John Jorsett (171560) on Friday June 18, 2004 @08:57AM (#9461942)
    Shortly after this program started, one of our local schools wired itself, and oh-so-coincidentally did it in a way that required recarpeting and painting the entire place to repair the "construction damage". All paid for out of the fund of course. I'll bet there are ten times more little scams like this that add up to way more than the big noticable ones.
    • by shione (666388) on Friday June 18, 2004 @09:10AM (#9462040) Journal
      If they needed new carpeting and painting in the first plae but couldnt get the funds for it, I don't think it's that bad as it would have been funded by the gov't anyway.
      • This is like upgrading a 911 dispatch system using anti-terrorism funds. It's probably going to improve 911 response - which is a good thing, right? Then again, it may not actually affect terrorism, the location where it's spent may be in very little danger of a terrorist attack anyway, and there may be other places or systems where that same money could do a lot more to actually fight terrorism.
        That's the problem here. If the school couldn't get the funds for painting and carpeting, then its because so
        • I actually know a very intelligent girl, whose father is a public school teacher and administrator. When we argued about private schoold being generally better, I mentioned, that, may be, being a good teacher is not the same as being a good administrator. Boy, did she get mad. I mean, really, sincerely, mad at me. She said, her dad had worked for free for several months, because the school had no funds. This time, I kept to myself my opinion, that this was, indeed, a sign of a devoted teacher, but bad admin
      • I hate it when the government rips itself off by paying for things out of the wrong funds. That money should go for computer hardware (granted I think somone with a fucking brain should be making the purchasing decisions) not school repairs.

        If the school looks like hell, then that should be a big clue sign that the government should, I don't know, GIVE THEM MONEY FOR THINGS THAT ARE USEFUL.

        I don't know how they can spend so much on hardware, and not have a damn clue. I mean, if you've ever been to best bu
    • I'd be interesting to see what kind of 'impovements' came of the school that received the 74000 wireless cards for 2.4 million ... do the math and I bet this school has the same new carpet, new paint, and a ton of neat-o expensive gadgets that suddently appeared around 1999. Wonder what their excuse was ...
    • This is by no means limited to schools or computers, of course. (And heck, at least they were upgrading facilities that the county might not otherwise budget for.)

      They're doing road construction near where I work. At one point, they put in part of the new road, connected it to the old, and then tore up the old road. Less than six months later, they put road back where the old road used to be, and closed the new section while they extended it. In other words, they tore up road they knew they were going
      • (And heck, at least they were upgrading facilities that the county might not otherwise budget for.)

        The problems is, you're taxing people in other areas to pay for your school's facilities. Schools are, and should be, local entities. If the local taxpayers don't want to spend the money to maintain the infrastructure, then why should you and I, who don't even benefit? Then there's the whole issue of dishonesty - claiming the funds will be used for one purpose, while secretly doing something else with them. W

        • by josh3736 (745265)
          (This will most likely be lost in the sea of comments, but here I go anyways...)

          The problems is, you're taxing people in other areas to pay for your school's facilities. Schools are, and should be, local entities. If the local taxpayers don't want to spend the money to maintain the infrastructure, then why should you and I, who don't even benefit?

          Because you've done something for the greater good? And that's the problem, no one wants to do good unless they see a way that they will somehow benefit from

          • by Warlok (89470)
            Because you've done something for the greater good?

            You're drinking the government Kool-Aid if you think giving your kids and your money to the government to lock them inside a brick building six hours a day, keeping them calm and docile with drugs if necessary, taking years to teach reading (which is a necessary skill, easily learnable in 6-8 weeks with phonetic skills), and forcing socialization on them is for the "greater good".

            Your arguments about taxpayers are spot on - no one wants to pay for it, so

    • The local schools see this as free money. They can put in the biggest, stupidest possible proposal to the feds. If it is approved, great! Remember, the guys in DC that administer the program are paid to give out money to schools, not to teach them about networks.

      If the local schools thought it was important to wire the schools, they would find the funds and would design a much more cost-effective system. This has the effect of concentrating power in Washington. I think that local school boards should
  • by BJZQ8 (644168) on Friday June 18, 2004 @08:58AM (#9461946) Homepage Journal
    I have watched the e-Rate program since its inception, and am neck-deep in it now...this sort of thing happens over and over again. It is a multi-billion-dollar boondoggle, typical government program. Schools are forced to hire entire staffs, or outsource, just to fill out the hundreds of pages of paperwork. The end result? Rejection, or perhaps more paperwork. But in any case, all of those billions are funneled to IT giants like Microsoft and IBM, as well as the Telecom companies that are given "preference" for their stone-age T1 technology. Want to put in your own glass fiber between buildings? Not covered by e-Rate, because that would step on the phone company's toes. Better to lease a dozen T1 lines, in their eyes. The whole thing needs to be gamma-irradiated and shot into deep space...and the "Universal Service Fee" that covers it eliminated.
  • by Jargon Scott (258797) on Friday June 18, 2004 @08:59AM (#9461956)
    He was talking about a school system in Arizona (I believe) that spent some ridiculous amount on a system from IBM that was so complicated, the school system couldn't maintain it. The best part was how IBM "forsaw" that this would happen, and charged and additional $27M to build a "lavish support center" that the teachers could call for tech support.

    What the hell's wrong with these people!?! (Not IBM, I think that part is hilarious)
    • by jamie (78724) <jamie@slashdot.org> on Friday June 18, 2004 @09:39AM (#9462286) Journal
      I heard that same show. I don't see why this is surprising. The network cost $80 million to put together, and IBM included a $27 milllion support contract with the bid. Why is this news? Of course a very large, complicated network requires support.

      On the same Rush Limbaugh program, minutes later, a caller who claimed to be an anonymous IT expert explained that schools will put together a $500,000 network when they could just purchase a $100 cable modem. This sounds like one of the usual idiots who sees that a T1 is 1.5 Mbits/sec, local cable provider offers 1.5 Mbits/sec, hey they must be the same thing! And what expenses could there possibly be apart from bandwidth?

      The caller and host went on to agree that everyone could save a lot of money if we just got some of the "12- and 13-year old boys" in class to string up the network themselves. Rush isn't the most reliable [mediamatters.org] source for information...

  • by gcaseye6677 (694805) on Friday June 18, 2004 @08:59AM (#9461959)
    I'll keep this in mind when I get my next phone bill and notice the 30% taxes added on to it. At least half of that is the "Gore Tax", which was put to such great use as we see. Now that almost all American public schools have their intarweb installed, I see no reason to continue this financial rape of the public. This program should be phased out, since it has clearly outlived its usefulness. It's nothing less than irresponsible to suggest that a federal tax be used to pay the monthly internet bills for schools and libraries (neither of which are supposed to be federally controlled to begin with).
    • by Otter (3800) on Friday June 18, 2004 @09:12AM (#9462059) Journal
      I'll leave the flaming about socialism to others, but what clearly does not work is throwing a surcharge, tax or fine on one thing (telephone service, cigarettes, insider trading violations), accumulating a huge slush fund and then expecting that money to be used for its advertised purpose.

      It's happening again with the fines on mutual funds (that are supposed to be going to "investor education") and it will happen again as soon as the vultures start shaking money loose from the fast-food companies.

      • This is not about theories (ie socialism), or is it about fund raising this is about corruption and graft.

        Where is the integrity of the corporations involved that they simply took the money for stupid ideas for out schools. These are their schools too.

        ls
    • by BJZQ8 (644168) on Friday June 18, 2004 @09:34AM (#9462250) Homepage Journal
      What most people don't know is that a huge majority of the money doesn't go to internet access at all; it goes to the huge network of Microsoft Exchange Servers and Cisco 3725 routers that schools heap up for no reason. Additionally, things like voice mail and cell phones are covered under the program. It's really much, much bigger than most people realize...a wonderful form of corporate welfare.
    • You have confused socialism with megacorp consulting. One of these is effective, albeit expensive (e.g. tax extravaganza). The other is simply expensive. I think the problem here is not that the policy is misguided, but that various levels of government assume that IBM can do a better job of setting up a school network than a bunch of geeks from the local college.
    • Last time I checked, greedy corporations taking billions from inefficiently-run funds does not constitute "socialism." Sounds more like a pluocracy to me.

      ===---===

  • Dammit! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mz6 (741941) * on Friday June 18, 2004 @08:59AM (#9461962) Journal
    Why couldn't they get access points? They could be the Robin Hood's of the Wireless World setting up AP all over the USA!

    Ahh.. i can dream atleast...

  • by bludstone (103539) on Friday June 18, 2004 @09:01AM (#9461975)
    Is not an entierly bad idea, but its not being done properly.

    First off, not every kid should have an internet connection. Period. The Internet is not sesame street (which every kid SHOULD have.) In fact, I consider it more like the streets of NYC, at night, in the bad part of town.

    Its simply not safe for kids to have un-guided access while at school. Blocking programs are even worse. As such, internet connections should be wide open and subjet to constant teacher review. Perhaps a single lab, with all monitors in view of the proctor would be considered adequate.

    The rest of the money here is simply wasted. The current problems with america's education system is epidemic. Youve got underpaid, unmotivated and uneducated teachers, attempting to simply control a group of apathetic and uncaring students, who have little to no motivation and guidance from their gaurdians. The problem cannot be pinned on any single group. Everyone is messing up here, equally.

    And as Americas education system continues to collapse the nation will be seriously hurt by this. A nation of unmotivated morons cannot compete with.. well.. india. Nor should we be able to. I dont know if youve looked at the job market in minute detail, but a major part of the problem is that people are too incompetant to do the job.

    • First off, not every kid should have an internet connection. Period. The Internet is not sesame street (which every kid SHOULD have.) In fact, I consider it more like the streets of NYC, at night, in the bad part of town.

      While I agree that not every kid should have an internet connection, I don't believe it is because of the dangers of the 'net. Cost is truly the prohibiting factor here. Internet connections into the classroom increase classroom efficiency. Labs only improve student efficiency outside

    • The average American teacher's salary is higher than that of the average Japanese teacher. The difference is probably that, while American teachers spend 2/3 of class time "teaching" "self-esteem", Japanese teachers are teaching math, grammar, and history.

      BTW, NYC gets a bad rap. It's not even on the top 25 most dangerous cities in America.

      • The problem isn't the "average" teacher. The problem is teachers come in 2 flavors: Older than dirt or fresh out of school. Most of the people that enter the teaching profession leave it by year 3. That means every year you have a set of bright new faces that don't have a clue what they are doing.
      • by TheSync (5291)
        Japanese students who expect to go to college take several hours of additional privately funded classes outside of school every day to prepare for entrance tests as well.
  • by cubicledrone (681598) on Friday June 18, 2004 @09:01AM (#9461979)
    Education bureaucrats waste large amounts of money.

    In other news, the sky was reportedly blue this morning and there seems to be a large amount of water west of Oregon.

    More late-breaking news as it becomes available. We now return you to your regularly scheduled argument about text editors.

  • by xsupergr0verx (758121) on Friday June 18, 2004 @09:03AM (#9461991)
    I just finished high school at a public school. This is not at all uncommon. They spent $50k on a lab for the CCNA students and found the two worst teachers I have ever had to teach it. Both were underqualified and took the same 4 semester course over the space of 2 weeks. Obviously, they passed the class instead of learned the material, and it showed. Of the 18 students who started the first year (myself included), only 3 made it to the next year, Semester 3. Cheating was rampant on tests as the teacher thought his time was better spent ticking out emails and doing lesson plans for his biology classes than enforcing anti cheating measures.

    After the 15/18 failure rate, he was replaced the next year. This new teacher was even more awful. He took the course the same way, and used us remaining 3 students to "help him" rebuild the lab. This involved taking old donated computers from the A+ lab and making them seaworthy for the class. Oh, and grabbing some old desks from the woodshop on the other side of the campus and doing chimp work with a drill to make them able to stand. Of the 3 remaining second year students, all of us dropped out. Of his 24 first year students, all of them dropped out as well.

    These wastes of money were apparant, we got these expensive routers and bridges and our teachers were unable to answer simple questions about them. Useless, I think the routers ended up being shipped to another school so they could try their hand at the CCNA program.
    Oh, and other schools in the district have had the CCNA program for a few years, and are turning out graduates due to good (suprise!) teachers.
    • CCNA being taught at the High School level? That's a bad idea in and of itself, but I doubt that it was paid for be E-Rate.....unless this is another abuse of the program. Most likely the sales guys presented to the executive oversight committee which MAY have had only one support person on it and he was of the type that said ooo...CISCO...COOL....let's get it!

  • Money well spent? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Blackaxis (757860) on Friday June 18, 2004 @09:04AM (#9462000)
    "The program, run by the FCC and administered by a not-for-profit corporation, is widely credited for helping poor and rural schools get wired, giving students better learning tools." .. Of all the problems with poor and rural schools, they spend money on this? Technology is a good thing, but when my rural school only had an 800 average SAT score (of the people motivated enough to take it), you have to wonder why resources get wasted like this.
    • I concur. The reason rural and urban schools are doing poorly is because nobody wants to take jobs there. Where would you want to live, in a suburb within driving distance of everything, or a small rural town two hours from the nearest Wal-Mart, or an inner city where you could be shot?

      Pay teachers more to go to these areas, and more good teachers will go there. That $24 million could pay for a couple thousand teachers instead of going to some stupid wireless initiative. If the teachers aren't there, the k

  • by XavierItzmann (687234) on Friday June 18, 2004 @09:05AM (#9462006)
    a) 1996 - Gore/Clinton tax *your* phone bill to "put internet on every school"

    b) Any school can spend whatever money and get the ERATE fund to reimburse the school

    Waste and abuse happens because this tax should not even have existed to begin with. If school districts had to spend their own money, based on *local* taxation, this sort of careless purchasing would not happen.

    You vote for politicians who introduce taxes, you bring this upon yourself.


    • by velo_mike (666386) on Friday June 18, 2004 @09:11AM (#9462043)
      If school districts had to spend their own money, based on *local* taxation, this sort of careless purchasing would not happen.

      Sure it would, schools are notorious for misspending money no matter how they get it. As long as it comes from mandatory taxes, this kind of waste will continue.

  • by Pedrito (94783) on Friday June 18, 2004 @09:07AM (#9462023) Homepage
    I think we need to get George Bush more directly involved to find out what's going on here and to ask the really tough questions like, "Is our children learning?"
  • This is called "Trickle down economics". The Teamsters get the cash, and it trickles down to the rest of us
  • Never underestimate the bandwidth of 74000 network cards on a truck that has never left the loading dock.
    • Nah, what they're not telling you is:

      They only budgets for one AP

    • Actually, when you consider they're all contending for the same frequencies, even with spread-spectrum channel hopping, you're not going to get even close to the theoretical max with so many devices talking at the same time.

      [In the days before switched circuits, you'd run into problems when you started nearing 50% of your bandwidth with ethernet... I don't know how much better the collision handling is in 802.11b/g, but I'm guessing it's not so good that it can handle 74k nodes simultaneously talking.]

      And
  • Computers in schools (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jesterzog (189797) on Friday June 18, 2004 @09:12AM (#9462057) Homepage Journal

    It's a shame that there appears to be so much abuse of this programme. Sometimes I wonder if these types of programmes are really necessary, though. Mostly out of interest, what kinds of advantages do children actually get out of having computers in schools? By themselves the use of computers certainly doesn't cover the primary topics that schools are usually expected to teach, so presumably there's some expectation that having them there will either hugely benefit children in some other way, or will positively enhance the effects existing teaching.

    I guess that in theory children can get used to having them around. To some extent it means that computers would be available for someone who might be able to learn from them extensively if they wouldn't have been able to otherwise. But is anyone out there aware of any actual research that demonstrates that computers in schools results in a verifiable positive return? (Keeping in mind that lots of people who never had computers in school were simply trained in the workplace.)

    I don't mean to criticise, but I ask because I see a lot of people and governments claiming that it's a good thing. On the other hand, I haven't actually seen much evidence or that much that might convince me that we're much better off than we were a few years ago, when significantly fewer schools had access to computers.

    I also don't mean to imply that maybe schools shouldn't have computers at all --- only that pouring vast amounts of money into actively supporting an infrastructure that deprecates so quickly might not be very effective. If the availability of technology means that most of people will already end up having reasonable computers in their homes within the next decade anyway, then pushing them so much in schools could be quite obsolete.

  • There should not be ANY fraud! Oh wait....this is government funded pork.. I forgot.
  • by Fenis-Wolf (239374) <jbudde@a2teTIGERch.us minus cat> on Friday June 18, 2004 @09:16AM (#9462094) Homepage
    That took advantage of this program. Our district received a massive government grant (in excess of 20 million? I think). This was of course split up between 5 seperate smaller districts in small towns. Each one of these districts had an elementary, middle school, and high school. In addition there was a Vocation School. This money from the government lead to a massive revamp of IT services in all those schools which included:
    -Connecting 5 towns to the Vocation School with redundant fiber lines
    -Purchasing top notch routing and server equipment for each of the schools
    -purchasing in excess of 200 brand new computers for each building
    -and the founding of an Internet Service Provider which server the area as a dial up provider and as the central hub that tied the schools together.
    It also led to the vocational school receiving much needed tech upgrades to CS labs and the Photo and Design Mac labs.
    When this government money is well spent, it can be a great force for good. But once a unscrupulous contracter gets his hands on those kind of funs, these massive frauds occur.
  • by Raleel (30913) on Friday June 18, 2004 @09:18AM (#9462103)
    Despite the fact that there are abuses, and they may be wide spread, I was part of a group of students who wired a dozen or so schools in the town where I went to college. we did the network diagrams, organized the groups, taught people how to do patch panels and the like.

    It was in the top three most rewarding experiences in my life, and one of the most valuable for jobs skills. it was a truly unique experience, and I would hate to see this go away because some people can't freaking be honest.

    I'd be happy with oversight (lots of stuff needs oversight) but don't remove it. I heard that there was a proposal to just turn it into generic school grants or something, and I think that would be a mistake as well :)
  • ...any time you have lifelong beauracrats running a program---they are more interested in prolonging the program than accomplishing anything. I believe we need to get back to the 19th century in terms of our government, where all federal jobs are up for replacement with each new administration. I know it would be a nightmare, but maybe someone would think it was time to cut some of the dead wood out instead of replacing it.
    • Nah. All you end up with is someones "REALLY GREAT" idea every flipping administration. Think about every time some new "Education Technique" rippled through your school. For me, it was every other year. About the only thing I learned consistently was that I was going to be learning another way in a year's time.

      (I'm still bitter because in my Senior Year they decided to try "Intensive Scheduling" where you take the course for double periods but only half the year. When the AP test rolled around I was eith

  • First, Kids need to read books at school. Google is great.... for the LITERATE. Now, I am programmer/analyst and my charge is to write the code that performs analysis on student test data. The results my programs output are factored into deciding wether or not a particular school/district is "making it" according to the Bush endorsed "No Child Left Behind Act". Billions of dollars of federal money are on the line. I am performing these analyses on my state issued Pentium III with 128 m
  • Apathy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mccalli (323026) on Friday June 18, 2004 @09:28AM (#9462190) Homepage
    I'm reading a lot of comments along the lines of "This is a surprise?", and "so? That's the way these things go". This is depressing.

    Look - a clear and serious fraud has been commited. People should be livid about this, even more so if this kind of behaviour is the norm. Just because it always happens doesn't make it right, and only pressure and accountability will ever sort the situation out. Shrugging the shoulders and going "so?" is really not all that helpful.

    Cheers,
    Ian

    • Re:Apathy (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lux55 (532736)
      I agree 100%.

      Unfortunately, apathy is an eventual product of democracies that stop considering free thought about justice to be a meaningful endeavour. We're living for our material desires now (fast food, movies, cable tv, going to the bar, etc.), not for any sort of sense of integrity or "doing what's right". We'll play rhetorical tricks, saying things like "what _is_ 'right' anyway? how do we know for sure?". When we see others doing things like this, as long as it doesn't negatively affect us direc
  • by CaptainFrito (599630) on Friday June 18, 2004 @09:30AM (#9462215)
    that amounts to $324 per wireless card. In these quantities, they should run about $40 even for latest-and-greatest super b/g cards.

    I think that the never leaving the loading dock issue is the smallest issue here. the price should tell you that actually shipping these cards was probably irrelevant from the beginning.

    wonder how much they spent on the access points...

  • by $criptah (467422) on Friday June 18, 2004 @09:41AM (#9462319) Homepage

    I was a high school student several years ago; most of my family works for public schools and I have heard a lot of great stories about how IT works or does not work for teachers and students. Here is the summary.

    As far as I remember, IT was a total disaster in my school. We were able to get computers and get them setup; however there was no qualified support. There was no single person responsible for providing user assistance and doing system administration! When computers crashed, students were not really allowed to repair them, instead our librarians tried to come to the rescue; it took them hours and hours to fix a simple problem. Go figure.

    When it came to security of networks and school computers, it was even worse. First of all, every damn computer had some sort of "cop" software installed that prevented access to "bad" sites. As a result, students were not research about breast cancer or human sexuality eventhough the pages came from dot GOV. The best part about it was the fact that students usually knew more than teachers and staff; boy, it was fun seeing old ladies trying to remove a picture of a naked chick from the background.

    Then there were students who did not know what to do with computers due to the lack of knowledge. I went to a good school that was required to bus certain number of students from the inner city and other "problematic" areas in order to meet some sort of a standard. Some of these kids knew zero about computers and there was nobody in school who could teach them. At least several computers had to be replaced every year because a frustrated student's actions.

    My girlfriend work for public schools in MA. The state of IT in her schools is simply pitiful. They have the oldest technology, and virtually no help. Two guys who are in charge of the system have no interest in making things work. When the schools receive new computers or software, there is not enough training provided; therefore, nobody can use them efficiently!

    So what's the point? Well, the point is that you can waste government's money in many ways. Direct stealing is just one of them.

    • My girlfriend work for public schools in MA. The state of IT in her schools is simply pitiful. They have the oldest technology, and virtually no help.

      Ok... so why don't you volunteer a few hours a week to help them? It should be more rewarding than watching old ladies try to remove dirty pictures.

      Ten years ago, when both of my children were in public school in a rural, mostly agricultural, school district I was contacted by the teacher who also had little experience with computers and networking. On my recommendation they ran fiber between all the buildings and used Linux (Redhat 4 and then early SuSE) for email, web, and - at least later - web proxy (and filtering). That teacher told the school board that my help had saved them over $50,000 and countless hours of fruitless effort.

      I also became a reading volunteer on a program that helped younger students - especially hispanics - learn to read.

      In addition, I nstalled Linux on several computers inherited by the Schools by the Public Utility District and put them into the library for kids to check out and take home. One student (mind you, the graduating class of the HS was around 40 in any typical year) used Linux as his senior project as a direct result of puzzling out how to make that Linux computer do what he wanted 6 years earlier.

      Now my company does engineering services for this school district under the E-Rate program. But if that were gone I would still volunteer my time as a parent and member of the community. It's an easy way to make a difference.

  • by the_rajah (749499) * on Friday June 18, 2004 @09:48AM (#9462381) Homepage
    common sense and (fiscally) conservative I've ever seen on Slashdot so far. Refreshing.

    "If you are not liberal when you are 20, you have no heart. If you are not conservative when you are 40, you have no brain." -Winston Churchill
  • Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ShadowRage (678728) on Friday June 18, 2004 @11:11AM (#9463164) Homepage Journal
    tell us something that isnt new with the US public school system.

    Thing is, the people who run the school system are not good with managing money. this is proven fact, the dont look into the best priced software, or hardware, or anything.
    it's whoever treats them to the best lunch.

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