Back in the day, kids were given textbooks. Six classes of textbooks cost $600-$800. They get lost, damaged, and cost a fair amount of money to keep up with. Some districts try to force the teacher to pay for books lost by the students.

If we assume that students still need textbooks, giving those textbooks on an iPad or similar device can be cost efficient. If the student buys a keyboard, the iPad can do much of what they student would do on a regular computer. One can even teach the basics of programming or web development on the iPad, if there is a server running somewhere they can telnet to.

Of course the iPad is different from a book because the iPad is worth real hard cash, and the market for stolen iPads is robust. That is a hard problem to solve. It is the same problem with calculators. Students steal them and sell them.

At some point education will enter the 21st century and kids will have computers, and we will just each the cost of stolen machines. If we are to have a trained workforce, kids need to learn to use computers as tools, and that requires an acquaintance with them. We have not had a powered machine quite like the computer. The closest thing would be the car, but the car is not a general work device.

The biggest problem to educating our children is the idea that 'they don't need a computer'. I am fortunate in that in the 80's my family did not believe that. If they did I would be as ignorant and underemployed as so many who graduated in the last century are.