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Computers-for-Student-Eyeballs Scheme Goes Under 94

mwalker writes "The New York Times is reporting that ZapMe corporation is sending schools the bill for computers that they had given the schools for free. ZapMe's original business model of playing ads for students on the computers, and trading their personal information for "Zap points" towards prizes seems to have fallen afoul of a few privacy advocates."
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Computers-for-Student-Eyeballs Scheme Goes Under

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  • Well, if you had read the article, you would see that the contract was was not for free computers, no conditions. I quote:

    "We never gave the computers to the schools" outright, Mr. Mortensen said. And William R. Connon, a Hartford lawyer who represents the Plainfield Township schools, said the ZapMe contract gives the company the right to charge for its services or to take them back.

    This means the contract probably said at one point that they can take back the computers or charge for them at anytime they wish. Unfortunately, for a small school with a limited budget that is a risk they might have been willing to take because they have so few options. It is more likely, however, that they just were not aware that the contract said anything like that. They probably just jumped at the chance for the computers.

    This isn't neccisarily the companies fault. They tried to do something good and make a profit at the same time, and unfortunately they failed. However, if the school had the resources in the first place they wouldn't have had to get locked into a contract that they didn't understand. Once again proving that the educational system in the country is flawed.

  • by Xenu ( 21845 ) on Friday November 03, 2000 @08:28AM (#652999)
    It''s a shame that the US educates it's folks with teachers that carpool from the trailor park each day and that little johnnies teacher is also trailor park patty, just on her day job because that's the only caliber of people they can find that will work for 20K US a year. Hell, garbage men in my country get more than that.

    Don't let the facts get in the way of a good rant.

    If you want to see real data on teacher salaries, look at this page [aft.org], whick contains the results of the AFT 1998 salary survey. The 1998 U.S. average teacher's salary is $39,347, which is more than most people make.

    Many public school teachers (and administrators) are overpaid, incompetent and should be fired.

  • Then maybe your college needs a swift kick in the backside for using SSN#s as student IDs .. can't they make up their own number and increment them???

    new student=studentnumber++;

    ad infinitum...

    It's not hard, people.

  • by goliard ( 46585 ) on Friday November 03, 2000 @08:40AM (#653001)

    Ok, this has gotten surreal, the combination of this thread here and the simultaneous story The Man Who Wouldn't Be King [slashdot.org]

    Geeks should volunteer their time more than the norm.[...]I hadn't really thought seriously about voluteering before reading this, but it appears that public schools are desperate enough to submit to the demands of greedy profiteers. Its got to stop, and it appears the only way to stop it is to offer alternatives.

    Dude, do what you think is right, but I am not going to volunteer or donate anything so a school where:

    the school principal charged that the 17-year-old Griffiths "disrupted school activities or otherwise willfully defied the valid authority of supervisors, teachers, administrators, school officials or other school personnel engaged in the performance of their duties." [for refusing the homecoming crown]

    Put another way: I was suspended once, for getting beat up. Why on earth would I do anything for the institution that not only turned a blind eye on assault and battery, but reprised against a victim?

    Face it: as geeks many of us have very schizophrenic attitudes about schools. On one hand, we say things like "we should contribute to our schools to advance learning and education and people picking themselves up by their bootstraps". On the other, our personal experience of school was, well, the Hellmouth.

    Until the Hellmouth series here, it was possible -- or even highly plausible -- for geeks to look at their own experience as anomalous. They disregarded their first-person empirical evidence of what schools are like, so that they could continue to support the abstract ideal of schools. They could say "Yeah, I got beaten up every day at school, but schools are still a wonderful thing."

    But now we know our experience isn't anomalous. Teachers are biggotted against the smart and the odd. Funding is poured into athletics and not academics. Violence against certain classes of students is condoned. And this happens all over, not just in isolated cases.

    It's just about impossible for us to kid ourselves now. I can't be the only one who loathes the idea of supporting the institution which abused me.

    How could I possibly be willing to give -- without restraints -- to an institution which is so vile, which treated me so vilely?

    How do I know that if I donate computers to my local HS's computer lab, that they won't say "Great, we got computers for free this year, so we can take the new computer budget for the lab and spend it on the football team"??

    How do I know that I am not enabling the school's continuing abuse of it's students? Do I want to work on a computer net which lets teachers know where teens surfed?

    How do I know my serving as a volunteer would not be taken as a sign of endorsement of repressive school administrators or board members?

    Frankly, at the absolute minimum, a school would have to convince me that it was addressing these issues, and that it was committed to improving them, before I would help it.

    I want, bluntly, a quid pro quo. I want to know that if I give to them, they are going to work to improve the lot of the geeks and outcasts who are getting stepped on, and the civil rights of all students.

    I'd far and away rather directly support the students, than the institutions: supporting non-school organizations which help students. There's no way I'd want to cart blanche give over any of my time and money to school administrators.

  • Obviously they must not want anybody to know anything about their "service"...hence the redirect on thier site [zapme.com].

  • > where traffic coming from slashdot is automatically let into a story,
    > ... and in exchange for not having everyone here mess with their marketing department

    Too late. If their DB is accurate, I'm a female orthopedic surgeon from Botswanna living in Zaire making $99 a year.

  • ZapMe would have us believe their failure was due to harsh critics and bad press. While the idea to pump ads into schools is in itself a bad one, it's equally likely that their business model is flawed from the whold idea of Internet advertising in general. Pop-up ads, banner ads, click-through ads, etc. are DESPISED by most people. The bigger picture is that ALL Internet advertising schemes are going down the tubes. They just don't work.
  • I am a senior in high school and a few days ago the entire senior class was told to go to the auditorium for an "important senior announcement." I have several friends who are class officers and asked them what was happening. They had no idea. I thought this was quite odd. A man there proceded to tell us how important it was to send cards to friends and family that announced our graduation. He also told us how we could buy mugs with our school's logo on it. He said that he went to over 100 schools per year (and that was just him!) I absolutely could not believe it. I missed Chemistry so that I could hear a speech about buying greeting cards and mugs!

    Now, everyday on announcements we hear how we should buy these things. There are posters advertising this company all over the place. The school even dedicated an entire display case to house demos of this company's wares.

    There is obviously something wrong that is happening to our public schools. Commercialism has gone too far. We can even buy Domino's pizza in the cafeteria. I believe that it should either be all or nothing. If one company can be invited to sell greeting cards, all of them should.
  • "...what makes you think that your ISP is shortchanging you on bandwidth?"

    The fact that the T1 gets a data rate of a 56K modem. Seriously, they should've gone with OC3 or something better. Perhaps a tweaking of the contract is needed.

  • I hadn't really thought seriously about voluteering before reading this, but it appears that public schools are desperate enough to submit to the demands of greedy profiteers. Its got to stop, and it appears the only way to stop it is to offer alternatives.

    If you want it to stop don't offer your time as a volunteer, but get out there and stump for school board and rally for increased funding to schools.
    Volunteers, while well meaning and frequently useful, are absolutely not the answer. The state has committed to provide public education but it frequently does so poorly and local communities begrudge every penny. Because of what are generally inadequate and inequitable funding for school districts and wide-spread voter opposition to school budgets (and the resulting taxes), volunteers are just patching a leak. You can volunteer all of your time and still not solve the basic problem. It has nothing to do with computers and everything to do with paying for public schools.

    - technik
  • Thank you, that was eloquent...if only ALL parents felt this way.

    "I'm not a bitch, I just play one on /."
  • I would agree with what you said. I'm just a pessimist...

    I went to high school, if my memory serves me correctly, I don't know if it'll solve anything by handing the authority figures I encountered lots of money. Who needs computers when you can create a second JB wrestling team *retch*...

    I agree with you about the fact that public schools are very underfunded. I personally recall all of the senior citizens being lead onto their representative bus like cattle and then sent into their representative voting districts to vote down anything that could possible represent a tax increase (ie: the school budget, every time)

    Then these dipshits wonder why there's so much crime.......

    I hate people.

  • Um, Network tv is dead in most areas, it's called cable tv now. And you pay for cable. Without cable in most of the places that I have lived you don't get GOOD tv reception if any (or you have satelite tv). The point is that only 5 channels or so broadcast purely network (ABC, UPN, WB, CBS, and NBC) and they don't usually have large antennas that reach every area. Now if you said radio I'd have to agree with you. However in the case of both TV and radio, neither of them are trying to collect data about the users the way that this company was. Yes there are the nelson ratings and things, but those are volunteers. Nor do they put ads where you have to see them. You cannot get up from your computer and go away and then when you come back the ads are gone, they are still there. Tv and radio you change channels during commercials and then change back. Or you have picture in picture.

    I don't want a lot, I just want it all!
    Flame away, I have a hose!

  • Seems if people like you and me gave more back into our society (without worrying about who is "worthy" of our time), we'd have a lot less to bitch about.

    Seems if people like you and me worried a little bit more about whether or not our contributions were used for good or evil (instead of giving to stroke our own egos) there'd be far less evil in the world.

  • Maybe this is a shockingly naive thing to say, but perhaps you could contribute to its reformation?

    Yeah, shockingly naive.

    BTDT. Volunteer teacher, both in schools and independently.

    I've been following school reform, and studying previous reform movements for 18 years, and I have come to the conclusion: the schools can't be reformed. They can only be dismantled.

    For a crash course in the issue, and why the biggest names in school reform all abandoned the cause, I strongly recommend to you the writings of John Taylor Gatto and John Holt (especially the heartbreaking introduction to his "Teach Your Own").

  • Email me if interested in pursuing conversation.
  • Keep something in mind about this, though:

    The page shows unadjusted salaries for the states. No where in there are you looking at local cost of living, nor how many teachers are in each state. The average they gave, $39,347, is most likely way off, since I'm pretty sure that there are unequal numbers of teachers in the respective states.

    Also, speaking from local experience (CA, SF Bay Area), I can honestly say that our teachers (at least in this area) are GROSSLY underpaid. It's a sad state of affairs, when a teacher can not afford to live in the community in which he/she teaches, and instead has to commute 30-40 miles, each way to get to work, to enlighten our country's future. My first part-time job in the networking industry, I was paid 42k, and back in '98, I was making more than ANY teacher at my high school. Even those that had been teaching for over 30 years. My school was by no means in a low-income area, either. It is one of the more affluent (not by dot-coms) areas of the Bay Area. Those of you that know the Lamorinda area, know what I'm talking about. That, IMO, is a very shitty arrangement.

    As of now, I make over twice as much as most of them, and have only worked for 2.5 years. Yes, they only work 9 months a year, and yes, their contracts only say they must work from 7a-3p (this may be different elsewhere), but do they only work that? No, they end up working (grading papers, preparing lesson plans, staying after school to help students) stressful 10-12 hour days.

    As for your "overpaid, incompetent, and should be fired" comment, I believe that it is a very debasing comment, and reflects heavily on your wisdom. If you would wake up for a moment, and think about the situation, instead of just relying on a site's quick survey, you may be able to grasp the unfortunate situation our society has plummeted our schools into.


  • It does not make it the equivalent of $52,463. It reflects a 9 month appointment, because that's all they work. In the schools where they go year round, the teachers get paid the same amount, basically. It just is spread out over the year instead. They don't ever see the full year's salary equivalent of $52,463. A lot of teachers I know take odd-jobs over the summer, to "pay the bills".

  • All I can say is, you're a lucky bastard if it's true that you wouldn't have had to deal with the consequences. When I worked for a public school district, we were expected to support every single computer in the schools, no matter where it came from or who nominally owned it. Every time we refused to support something like this, word came down from on high: "Yes, you will."
  • Now, corporations do have their abuses, but they also have a vested interest in having healthy, affluent consumers purchasing their products.

    What like RJR, McDonalds or Pizza Hut. Please. Corporations have one aim and one aim only - to make money. If they were interested in the average Joe's affluence, why have so many manufacturing jobs been exported to third-world countries to be replaced by minimum wage service jobs. Corporations are very short-term and abusive and wouldn't care if the world descended into anarchy, so long as they were the ones supplying the guns.
  • by wmoyes ( 215662 ) on Friday November 03, 2000 @07:42AM (#653018)
    The way I understand it my school district had a similar thing happen. They were promised a grant from a large nameless corporation in the one million-dollar range for computer equipment, and of course they purchased the equipment from the large corporations educational subsidiary. Well the machines arrived, but the grant didn't (I never did find out why they bought the machines without the grant first). Since I was only a student I wasn't in on the full details, but I did get a ear full whenever I went to help fix one of the 'broken' computers.

    P.S. For any local computer genius, be careful when offering help to your school. After getting pulled out of class three times in one week for an 'emergency' I had to politely explain that it was inappropriate. Yes it was fun for a while, but trust me, it will get worse than your grandparents/uncle/any other relative asking for computer help.

  • by T. Emthrie ( 198024 ) on Friday November 03, 2000 @07:43AM (#653019)
    To do it right. From the archives of the state.

    The Beginning

    On Dec. 19, 1991, Southern Local and Northern Local school districts filed a lawsuit against the state in the Perry County Common Pleas Court on behalf of Nathan DeRolph, a sophomore in the Northern Local school district. The suit alleged that Pennsylvania's public school funding system was unconstitutional. At the conclusion of the case, Judge Linton Lewis, Jr. ruled that Pennsylvania's system of school funding was unconstitutional. The decision was appealed, and on Aug. 30, 1995 the Pennsylvania Fifth District Court of Appeals reversed Judge Lewis' decision. The case was then appealed, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction of the case on Jan. 17, 1996.

    (Back to top)

    DeRolph I: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court's First Decision

    On March 24, 1997, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that Pennsylvania's public school financing system violates Section 2, Article VI of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which mandates a thorough and efficient system of common school throughout the state. This decision is now known as "DeRolph I."

    The Supreme Court's majority opinion cited these specific statutes unconstitutional:

    • Operation of the school funding program;
    • The emphasis of Pennsylvania's school funding system on property tax may no longer be used as the primary source of funding;
    • The requirement of school districts borrowing through the spending reserve and emergency school assistance loan programs; and
    • A lack of sufficient funding in the General Assembly's biennium budget for the construction and maintenance of public school buildings.
    • The Supreme Court would not retain jurisdiction of the case because it is the trial court's responsibility to rule on the constitutionality of the enacted legislation and render an opinion. Either party could then appeal the trial court's decision directly to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

    (Back to top)

    The State's Response

    After DeRolph I, the General Assembly introduced many different types of legislation and ideas to create a new educational funding system.

    Joint subcommittees were formed to create recommendations and many senators and representatives developed their own recommendations. On Jan. 28, 1998, the legislative leaders from the House and the Senate announced a school funding plan. The plan was placed in House Bill 650 (HB 650), and the funding component was a joint resolution that authorized the issuance of general obligation bonds to pay for school facilities. The joint resolution was placed on the ballot and passed by voters on Nov. 2, 1999.

    Additional legislation was passed to support the new school funding system. Below is a list of key legislation for the school funding system:

    • Senate Bill 102: Created the Pennsylvania School Facilities Commission and provided $300 million in appropriations. Signed May 20, 1997.
    • Senate Bill 55: Established school district performance standards. Signed August 22, 1997.
    • House Bill 412: Provided for fiscal accountability by requiring school districts to maintain budget reserves, set-asides for building maintenance, textbooks and instructional materials and created the school district solvency assistance fund. Signed August 22, 1997.
    • House Bill 650: Outlined the methodology for determining the base cost of an education for 1999 through 2004 and provided $170 million in appropriations for school facilities construction, including an additional $30 million for the Emergency Repair Program. Signed February 13, 1998.
    • House Bill 1: Implemented the PennsylvaniaReads initiative that provided reading grants and volunteer tutors to help youngsters from kindergarten through fourth grade improve their reading skills. Signed March 30, 1999.
    • House Bill 282: This bill marked the first time the state created an education budget separate from its main operating budget as required in HB 650. Signed June 30, 1999.
    • Senate Joint Resolution 1: Authorized issuance of general obligation bonds to pay for school facilities. Approved by voters November 2, 1999.
    • Senate Bill 192: Committed $2.5 billion over 12 years for school construction and repair. The funding was a result of the money received by the state from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. Signed March 3, 2000.

    Click here for a complete list of legislative activity on school funding.

    On February 26, 1999 Judge Lewis ruled the state's response unconstitutional and the case was appealed directly to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

    (Back to top)

    DeRolph II: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court's Second Decision

    On May 11, 2000, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 decision that the state's response to the 1997 DeRolph case had not met the "thorough and efficient" standard set in Section 2, Article VI of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The Supreme Court majority cited seven specific areas to be addressed by the state:

    • Continued reliance on local property taxes as a primary means to fund Pennsylvania's schools has not been specifically addressed.
    • The cost of an adequate education formula that was revised by the state has structural deficiencies and may not reflect the actual amount per pupil that is required to provide an adequate education.
    • Continuing attention must be given to the mechanism implemented to fund the construction of new school facilities and to repair older, decaying school buildings, until the task is complete. Additionally, requiring local districts to pass levies as a prerequisite for obtaining state funding should be reviewed.
    • The School Solvency Assistance Fund established by House Bill 412 must be reevaluated, so that funds are available and used only in case of extreme emergencies.
    • The unfunded mandates in House Bill 412 and Senate Bill 55 must be addressed and immediately funded.
    • The phenomenon known as phantom revenue (when the growing property wealth of a school district gives the illusion of an increasing revenue stream that is not realized by the school district for a variety of reasons) has not been eliminated.
    • Strict, statewide academic guidelines must be developed and rigorously followed throughout all of Pennsylvania's public school districts.

    The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will retain jurisdiction of the case and continue it until June 15, 2001, when the state will need to prove they have sufficiently addressed the issues listed above.

    (Back to top)

  • by josepha48 ( 13953 ) on Friday November 03, 2000 @07:43AM (#653020) Journal
    Giving people stuff for free and sending them ads is not going to be and isn't an effective business model. With programs like proxomotron (windows) which can filter web page ads and web page content including javascript src and iframe/ilayer, I can block ALL ads from a site. With mozilla I can also block images from certain sites as well as cookies f I choose. There is more tech like that coming which is going to make it difficult for sites to just collect data on there visitors. They'll need to rely just on http data, like IP address and user agent and stuff like that.

    This company had to have been stupid if they thought they could get data from school kids. That is a BIG issue today and it is just not going to fly with parents. hey some web portols don't even allow people under 13 to join and get acounts. I am ammazed that they thought that they would even try to get info from students. If I were an IT admin at that school, I'd set up the systems that students use for surfing and what not, so that they could not submit this kind of data to begin with even if that meant coding a program that would block post operations (except to certain permitted sites like search engines google) at the firewall level. Yes that can be done it is just http header info.

    maybe web sites need a rating system. Like a meta tag that says

    meta name=rating content=r
    Then if people used this then you could filter out sites that are r rated like porn or maybe content=porn would be more appropriate.

    I don't want a lot, I just want it all!
    Flame away, I have a hose!

  • ZapMe! (Stupid exclamation point) has has a controlling percentage of their shares bought by r)star (stupid parenthesis) networks, a satellite broadband provider. They no longer pursue the educational service, they provide net access.
  • Personally I think this idea is crazy, it's also a little scary. The whole idea that these people are giving schools computers for students to view adds, that seems a bit dumb to me. Why don't school just go out and hire some IT person and then go get a deal from some company like intel or whatever, schools get a large discount for computer products. Now that this company, ZapMe is going out on their free-computer like deal not only are the dumb schools who signed up for their computers kind of screwed, they're gonna pay for them or they're gonna take them away. Yet that part is the plain part. Now why would a school force or make students view ads to use their computers. Thats a bit atrocious, not that people wouldn't find ways to get around it, but the idea of that kind of target advertising in a school...it's sort of absurd. The company even says it reserved the right to track where students were going individually, even though they supposedly never collected more than age, sex and ZIP. What kind of company is this, it sounds like a damned advertising agency that gives schools computers in exchange for schools giving their students info to the advertisers.
  • If this hit my campus, I would've become incensed. Not only is the college's contracted ISP short-changing us students on bandwidth, but our Social Security number acts as our Student ID number! Giving this to ZapMe! would've resulted in some inevitable Social Security fraud.

    Fortunately, not even Channel One casts its demonic tendrils on my college. I'm safe... for now.

  • They seem to have the opinion that pretty much everything on the Internet and TV is filthy. While I agree that children should not be exposed to that in the classroom (they're there to learn) they are going about it the wrong way. Claiming moral corruption and such shows their fundamentalism, and at the very least divides their support base and distorts the issue. The real issue is that kids should not be playing Quake (or puzzle games for that matter) in class, and they should not be watching non-curricular movies (violent/filthy or otherwise). Period. Nothing to do with corporate advertising, exploitation, captive audience, corruption. Those are all side-effects, symptoms. These are not the root cause.

    So, while they have good ideas, the approach may be a bit offtrack.

  • Just today, I saw an American Express rep trying to give people credit card accounts on campus. "Be launched into uncontrollable debt with no money down! Forget bankruptcy; we only seek lobotomy!"
  • If we didn't piss away all the government money on pointless, bureaucratic BS, this wouldn't be an issue - the schools would have money to spend on all the latest and greatest tech, and MAYBE even a LITTLE bit on the teachers themselves.

    In California, we passed more than $4bil in additional stupid bond issues for the schools in the last 2 elections, and they're beggin' for more, and want to lower the % needed to pass. Where has the PAST money gone? It's not that we need to spend more, we need to spend more wisely.

    Plus, this isn't such a purely evil thing that the commies would have you believe - this could be a great thing for poor school districts, outside of CA and NY, where there's so much money to go around, it's easy to be liberal.
  • As most of the intelligent and esteemed members of the /. community discovered long time ago

    There is no such thing as a free lunch

    The phone company, providing you with free long distance ? Right, only that they charge an arm and a leg when you don't read the fine print.

    You just one a free holiday ? Yeah, sure! One of the oldest scams around.

    Get this free book. The Scientology classes for which you pay for the rest of your life aren't quite free.

    In the case of schools it's an especially dirty scam. Schools scramble for budget and a slimey salesman promising a free computer lab must be very tempting. Nevertheless the responsible folks should have done their homework. How many banner ads do you have to deliver to how many eyeballs to pay for the cost of a cheap $800 computer ? This is not counting that ZapMe has to finance their overhead and line the pockets of their greedy stockholders.

    Bastards, the lot of them.

  • by erinlee ( 98502 ) on Friday November 03, 2000 @09:20AM (#653028)
    ZapMe seems to be asking the schools, "We'll pay you with loans of unreliable computer equipment for the right to distract your kids during class." If one of their classmates were to disrupt and distract the class similarly, they'd likely get suspended. Following this logic, perhaps the guy at Mira Costa could loan the school a malfunctioning computer in exchange for his refusal to accept the homecoming crown and various other "disruptive" acts. Ya think?
  • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Friday November 03, 2000 @09:26AM (#653029)
    >I know it's important to protect children from bad influences

    No, it is NOT important to protect children from "bad influences."

    It is important the teach children how to DEAL with bad influences in a positive manner.

    In our current social structure we forcably maintain children as innocents, and then, when they hit 18, say " You're an adult now, behave like one."

    But we've never * taught them HOW to behave as adults.* No wonder college age 'kids' have a reputation for appaling behaviour.

    The role of a parent is NOT to protect children, but rather to teach them to protect themselves.
  • Can you please not use the word scheme in the headline? (define (SchemeSucks string)
  • Actually, ZapMe's model is a very good business model! No risk! Yeah, it reeks of corporate greed, and there is no way these losers should get refunds. As per Microsoft, hey -- if you sign the dotted line, you pay the price. Maybe more people will start realizing that in the future.

    You don't become a failure until you are content with being one.

  • In response to their failures, the ZapMe corporation has changed its name and will now be known as FuckMe.
  • nah, it's just that as a rule teachers are not the savvyest bunch of grapes on the vine. They love to teach (not much point being a teacher for the pay these days) so you're not going to get the sort of person who scrutinises a contract for every loophole and repercussion (sp?).

    "well meaning" is probably the best generalisation, as it captures the intuitive notion of the strengths and weaknesses of educators as a generalisation.

    This is why the companies who prey on this mentality are such slime, IMHO.
  • This shure does explain a lot things I saw! Just recently my company was contacted to go and service some of zapMe's school sites here in LA, and guess what I saw? To start with, they had these cheesy Toshiba servers on a cable modem networked to a few toshiba desktops. Their app is this horribly dislexic looking mock of IE (their "custom" browser), which upon running makes you sign in or start a new account with all you "secret info". And knowing most kids, they probably filled 'em all in. They then proceed to run these fast moving ads at the bottom of the screen... I had to Laugh, you could barely follow them. The whole setup gave me a bad feeling. Why such a beefy server? Why the very personal info?

    Something on the side - I heard through them that most of their sites were experiencing (various) PC problems (mostly on the servers), and their fix was to reimage, sounds good except they had no image CD's left (sounding like this happened often), and had been out for a few MONTHS.

    ./ME :) []
  • If you didn't want them, then why did you buy them?

  • Isn't just obvious, with all intense competition and the advent of stuff for free, the internet was doomed to be bad financially. Look at any part of it, they all must compete because of places like pricewatch.com and advertising revenue is just a joke. Theres lots of ad space, did anyone think that was a bad thing? I'm not so sure about the internet, it's great and all but it's great because its free information (music, movies, and anything else...). Anyone can compete with minimal resources, bad bad bad as far as profits are concerned.
    Final note: fuckedcompany.com
  • And knowing most kids, they probably filled 'em all in.

    Well here at Bellarime, we had zapme for a while, but ended up using the school's t1(?). From what I remember, no one put in the personal information, and it was excellent entertainment the first day on what to put into the entry fields. I would say 90% of the forms were filled out as 'female' checked (this is an all boys school). Of course, the people didn't put in real information probably because it was fun, rather than because they were worried about privacy...

  • This is interesting stuff. I lived in the Valley while I was attending grad school and I lived on the same block as the CEO of ZapMe. We found that we were both heavy into technology and we used to go to dinner together quite frequently. In fact if you are ever in the Valley you should stop in at La Guizina [geocities.com]
    that was our favorite place to eat. (The flambou is excellent)
    I always felt like royalty back then because it was nothing for a lot of uber-powerful people to stop by our table and say hello. I met people like Larry Ellison, Steve Case, Scott McNealy and Linus himself. Linus was really cool, we had a lengthy discussion about the use of function pointers to let C simulate C++ functionality. Anyways, I know it's considered passé to drop names but all these guys were really cool. I would wait to hear more info before beliving that the guys at Zapme did anything wrong.
  • The idea that schools should engage in this kind of marraige with a corporation is both frightening and typical of modern USia. Rather than encouraging education, the single most important thing a government can do for its citizens, the USian government has left its schools adrift, forcing them to rely on dubious commercial ventures like this just to get basic equipment!

    Education is an area where commercialism could poison an entire generation, and it's already happening as cash-starved schools turn to greedy corporations all too willing to get their hooks into children from an early age. And whilst libertarians would love for our children to become happy corporate drones, if you're worried about the future of our nation, this story is an indication of the problem.

    Anyone who thinks that corporations have any place within schools is an idiot, and is obviously more concerned with saving a few dollars a month than providing for the future of a nation's children.

  • ...a scheme to make money of a bunch of hyper, sugar-powered kids fails. The teachers can hardly keep Johnny's attention long enough to explain why OH- bonds with H+ because of its extra electron, nevermind a company trying to keep Johnny's attention long enough to explain why the cool kids will bond with him because of his extra cool electron-colored sneakers.

    George Lee

  • by Kierthos ( 225954 ) on Friday November 03, 2000 @07:08AM (#653041) Homepage
    If the contract between the school and the corporation was for free computers, no conditions, then they can't turn around and charge for the computers, no matter what. It's called Breach of Contract, or something like that.

    Now, mind you, if the contract had some agreement that the ads would be available for students to use at their discretion, then they still shouldn't be able to charge for the computers, because freedom of choice lets the students answer the ads or not answer the ads at their choice.

    Finally, if the contract said that X percentage or X many students had to fill out the ads, then I believe it is patently unenforceable, because a contract between two parties cannot govern a third party who is not a signator of the contract. Which means that the contract would have been made in Bad Faith and is null. Whether the computers have to be returned or not, I don't know, but the schools still shouldn't have to pay for them.

    Again, IANAL.

  • Anyone who thinks that corporations have any place within schools is an idiot

    On that note, anyone who thinks that government has any place in education is an idiot.

  • From the start of hearing about the ZapMe! program. At the time when it was at it's "peak" I was working as a network administrator for a fairly large public highschool where one of the science teachers was on fire to sign up. I pretty much stayed out if it and let them deal with it all so I wouldn't be responisble for the consequences. After going to a couple of technology conferences and talking to some of the ZapMe! reps (every time I talked with them they were dressed in a costume! Santa/Bunny/Chicken!&!& never could figure that out!)

    Any ways didn't sound too bad, but I refused to sign anything and eventually the school board decided to go with the go ahead to sign up. Well luckily before they signed all the final papers one of the lawyers was going over some of the contract information and they had altered the agreement at the last minute! You can rip of big companies all you want and you can swindle home users because they're idiots! (not flaming just trying to make a point!) But conning public schools is the worst thing in the world! They barely have enough money as it is pay the teachers let alone buy computers!

    And for the record we had Channel One and there is no way I would compare it to ZapMe! I was very impressed with Channel One, they were nice as could be and legit all the way. And the commercials for the most part were funny or at least not annoying.

  • Something similar could be accomplished if the geeks of the USia would recommend to their collective corps that the computers they are obsoleting should be donated to schools. Especially if the geeks would get involved in loading older "obsolete" versions of OS's on these machines (Dos 6, Win 95, NT 3.51 etc). Just something for the students to learn on.

    "Well why not *nix desktops?" you ask. (go ahead, ask.... Thank you.) Since the current situation has M$ products with a huge market share, and *nix's with a significantly smaller one, it would make sense to teach the "widely available" apps / OS first, with possibly an advanced level class for *nix.

    I've tried (unsuccessfully) at several workplaces to have them donate their old PC's to schools / univ's (some universities could use them for parts for Comp Eng classes / projects). Apparantly, the potential liability for doing such outweighs the tax write off the company could receive for such a "charitable" donation (IANAL, and IANAFinancial Advisor (IANAFA))

    Now for the obligatory "How about a Beowulf cluster of these pouring hot grits down Natalie Portman's petrified pants??"

  • "Anyone who thinks that corporations have any place within schools is an idiot"

    Frankly, I find the idea that government has such a huge hand in education equally innocuous. What more perfect place for a government to brainwash it's citizens with it's propaganda? ... the USA is not magically exempt from this happening either.

    I don't have any suggestions though. Clearly corporations and government both have their share of alterior motives, but what alternatives are there? How can we get education systems to be more focused on science, math, and teaching people to actually think? I know I had my share of religuous and nationalist propaganda when I was at school .. and people weren't taught to think but rather to follow hundreds of stupid meaningless rules and just do what they're told .. wasn't really so bad though overall, we had some pretty good teachers (and some damn lousy ones) .. actually the biggest problem was probably that there was very little focus on education, and a lot of focus on cricket, soccer etc.

  • Face it, despite the ravings of Browne and Nader...

    Ravings of Browne? Browne isn't anti-business. Not in the least. Where the hell did you get that idea?

  • show it during lunch. problem solved.
  • by Rurik ( 113882 ) on Friday November 03, 2000 @07:59AM (#653048)
    Donna Unterreiner, a library media specialist for the Margaret Buerkle Junior High School in St. Louis, said that the ZapMe lab had been "a godsend for us," since the school district had not been able to pass bond issues that would have otherwise paid for Internet access. The advertising, she said, did not bother her or her students. "Can you turn on a computer anywhere, and they don't have ads on them?" she asked.

    I can not believe this. Now the whole computer industry is so tainted and jaded in the eyes of everyday people that they see no problem in advertisements all over their machine. Since when does using a computer entitle you to having to watch dozens of ads sucking up your bandwidth. But it's now a common conception in our minds that that is what has to happen. If we want a computer, we get ads. If we want internet, we have to watch ads on every page. If we want to play games, we have to watch ads.
  • "but they also have a vested interest in having healthy, affluent consumers purchasing their products"

    Of course, you forget to mention that corporations (in particular actually) also have a vested interest in ensuring that the majority of the buying public are naive, easy to pursuade/sucker, doesn't demand quality (how many technically-illiterate people do you know who actually understand that when Windows crashes, it's because the product is defective, and it's not their fault, and that they should demand better quality?), and follow trends like sheep. This is exactly why corporations should stay *out* of education - the competition of capitalism works better when people can think for themselves, because when people are capable of criticising the stuff that is being shoved down their throats, then there is more incentive to actually produce quality goods.

  • by aardvarkjoe ( 156801 ) on Friday November 03, 2000 @10:11AM (#653050)
    No, some teachers are incompetant. (I had my share of those while in school.) But there's no way they're overpaid. The starting salary where I live (IIRC), is about $23,000. If there started close to $40,000, it would be fine, but not many people are willing to work the extremely long hours, on starvation wages. That's why there's such a shortage of teachers, and many of the ones we have don't have a clue ... because they can't get anyone else.

    Most of the administrators are grossly overpaid and completely inept. In high school, my principal was completely clueless, and perpetually drunk. She caused nothing but trouble, and all the teachers hated her. (I was fortunate to have quite a few very good teachers, but that's the exception rather than the rule.) The brand-new school superintendant is making well over $200,000 a year. (He gets paid as much as 8 teachers put together for showing up to meetings and saying things like, "I think that we should try to have a 100% graduation rate." Not exactly the correct wording, but that's what he said.) My high school physics teacher taught 7 classes a day, with 35-40 students in each class, as well as being the head of the science department, because they couldn't be bothered to hire someone else to take some of the load.

    It's depressing that conditions never get better, even though politicians keep on claiming that they're constantly raising school budgets. In truth, there's so much corruption in the public school system that it will never get better until we get rid of the pork and the overhead that sucks up every available dollar.

  • I'd set up the systems that students use for surfing and what not, so that they could not submit this kind of data to begin with

    Last year my department went to a ZapMe demo session at a local school. I'm pretty sure that the ZapMe contract specifically forbids altering the systems they loan you.

    For the record, here's how it worked (IIRC): ZapMe equips one or more labs with a bunch of mid-range PCs running a modified NT workstation. The PC desktop is not accessible -- instead there is a shell with a corner advert box and buttons for access to various apps, mainly MS Office & a stripped-down MSIE with no address bar (to prevent kids from wandering off to "unapproved" sites). These are not general-purpose PCs by any stretch of the imagination.

    The PCs connect to the Net by way of an NT server. The server uses a modem for outbound traffic (mainly just GET requests and the all-important user data) and a satellite dish for inbound traffic.

  • There already is a voluntary website rating system. It's the RSAC [rsac.org], and allows you to rate your site in four different categories: nudity, violence, language, and sex. It's been around for a while, and is completely voluntary (which means it's also open for abuse...).
  • > I want, bluntly, a quid pro quo. I want to know that if I give to them, they are going to work to improve the lot of the geeks and outcasts who are getting stepped on, and the civil rights of all students.

    OK... It doesn't take a rocket scientist (or a PhD in Phychology) to know that the schools are screwed up. Now, are you just going to complain about it, or are you going to try to do something to change the situation?

    > I'd far and away rather directly support the students, than the institutions: supporting non-school organizations which help students.

    Well.... are you actually doing anything? I put in 9 hours or so last Saturday trying to jurry-rig a bunch of old crusty computer equipment at a local school that doesn't have the $$$ to go out and buy shiny new computers and network equipment. I've donated hundreds of dollars worth of equipment and many hours of time, and I know people who've given a lot more than I have. (Most of them are teachers, by the way...)

    The point the previous poster was trying to make was that it's high time we quit sitting around on our high horses, pissing and moaning about how awful yhe schools are, or what jerks the teachers are, or how incompetent parents are, or how selfish most students are, and DO something about it. Seems if people like you and me gave more back into our society (without worrying about who is "worthy" of our time), we'd have a lot less to bitch about.


  • Here, I'll do the problem on the board:

    20 Marlboros in a pack
    1/2 * 20 Marlboros = 10 Marlboros
    20 Marlboros - 10 Marlboros = 10 Marlboros
    10 Marlboros - 1 Marlboro = 9 Marlboros
    1/3 * 9 Marlboros = 3 Marlboros
    9 Marlboros - 3 Marlboros = 6 Marlboro

    Is the answer lung cancer? :)

  • Fortunately, not even Channel One casts its demonic tendrils on my college.

    I'd be a little skeptical about the quality of your college if Channel One [channelone.com] were there, because it's designed for children in middle and high school. So is ZapMe, AFAIK.

    I used to teach at a school that had Channel One. A TV set mounted on the wall of every classroom is a fair trade for watching a reasonably informative 5 minute news broadcast each day. One minute of commercials (ChannelOne) is MUCH less evil than continuous streaming adverts with audio (ZapMe). Not to mention having to use NT Workstation...shudder.

  • I don't think that libertarians want kids to become corporate drones. The idea that kids can be deprived of free will and intelligence by a combination of forced advertising and administrative fascism is a bit naive. Unfortunately this view is held by both proponents and opponents of these harebrained schemes.

    Remember the school in the south that tried to force all the students to wear Coke t-shirts? Did they really score big points with those students?

    Kids are mostly trying to carve out their own identity. Anything mandated by the authorities is not cool.

    I think libertarians want parents to buy education for their kids, rather than having it bought for them by a middleman (local government) with very different values. If a parent chooses to expose his child to propaganda, whether commercial, political or religious, to get lower tuition or better education, that's his decision.

    Personally, I'd like my (hypothetical) kid to endure a barrage of well-crafted propaganda. The real world is full of propaganda and success depends partly on skepticism and critical thinking.

  • In one of my courses in college, we looked at the ethical implications of ZapMe and its brethren, most notably, the equally, if not more so, intrusive Channel One from Whittle Communications. Speaking as someone who's seen Channel One, I'd have to say that it wasn't worth it... sure, you get new equipment, but at the price of losing time for education... in Channel One's case, actual time to watch their "news" program, and in ZapMe's, time looking at the ads, instead of doing research (or "research", as the case may be").

    Not to mention that the stuff they're shoving down our throats was total crap without any redeeming qualities, but hey... That's pretty much high school, innit?
  • I agree. Public schools are evil to the core. Because they devalue human intelligence and initiative, and because they champion mindless obedience and ass-kissing, they will repel the people who could help them and attract their true soulmates like Channel One and ZapMe.

    Your demand for a quid pro quo is reasonable, but of course unrealistic. Any school administrator would rather spend $4000 of grant money on a bad PC than accept a free PC from some grubby hacker who thinks students have "rights". In the first case he's the hero who wrote the grant proposal, got the money, managed the project. Sure there are a few bugs to iron out, but he's on top of it. In the second case, he's merely the passive conduit that allows you to be the hero.

    Also, in the first case he can be fed and fawned upon by a sharply dressed salesman who speaks of "leading education into the 21st century" or something. In the second, you will stare at him with disapproval and basically call him a human rights violator.

    I'm amazed that adults can sentimentalize school into something noble, completely forgetting how viciously authoritarian it is.

    Now I just need some idiot to "rebut" me on the grounds that his wife is a teacher and "overworked" and "underpaid".

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The New York Times article talks about Plainfield High School in Central Village, Ct.

    Here's what's really going on at that poor little impoverished school system. I live there and went to that high school, so I know a little bit about it.

    The school administration is trying to ram a new high school down the taxpayers' throats. They have been engaged in a massive disinformation campaign to make the high school seem like it's falling apart. It isn't. A teacher there (who I think should be fired) has gained so much control that she has forced the carpeting to be torn up from the hallways. She leaves her classroom windows open all winter, which besides sending money out the windows, prevents the next rooms from being adequately heated. The administration doesn't mention this. It simply whines that the heating is "uneven".

    The administration is pulling another scam on the public they are supposed to serve. They are in the middle of an "accreditation" review from an education industry front group. At taxpayers expense, the administration whines in an exaggerated fashion, and the reviewers write it all down hungrily. The review claims that the school is "inadequate". It isn't.

    If there isn't any money for technology, it's because all the money goes into these teachers' and administrators' pockets. They are the highest paid staff in a wide area, and the school system is one of the costliest per student.

    They also have a newly hired superintendant who is trying to make a name for herself.

    Last winter, these honorable representatives of the education industry packed a town meeting (they also control the town government here) and passed themselves an authorization to spend another $25000 (that's twenty-five thousand dollars) for bus routing software for one windows computer after spending at least $50000 for similar software previously.

    This is serious wastefulness. These clowns don't deserve another penny.
  • umm.. and how does this really relate to the topic? and do we care if you met these ppl or not? the main answer is NO ..go back to doin whats best for ya..and kiss some more ass.
  • Remember too that the average reflects a 9 month appointment, making it the equivalent of $52,463. Having worked in public education that is not necessarily unfair, but it certainly is not poverty. My wife is working in a middle school right now, and if you really try to engage the students and give a damn it is downright stressful work.
  • Of course, the people didn't put in real information probably because it was fun, rather than because they were worried about privacy...

    well, I guess thats probably also true. Guess I was just the neieve kid in elementry school, I've learned my lesson now though.
    Email me [mailto]
  • The only consumer goverments have are welfare clients.

    Are highways welfare? Ha! I can see it now, "Those damn commies are building roads again!"

  • by dasunt ( 249686 ) on Friday November 03, 2000 @07:16AM (#653064)
    Is there anyway that Slashdot could get an equivalent of a general user's account at the New York Times? There seems to be plenty of stories that are linked to the paper, and we must send plenty of traffic in their direction, has anyone at Slashdot/Andover tried to come to an agreement with the NYT over being able to copy the article cited or have a slashdot account all slashdot users could use?

    I'm probably spitting into the wind here, but it can't hurt to ask now.
  • The only place corporations should have withing schools is donating equipment on a unconditional basis for the betterment of the students. They'll get good press off of doing so, name recognition with the students, and that should be it.

    No garnering of personal information, no conditions on use, etc. I'd love to see more corporations donate computers that they don't use any more (a lot of corps buy new computers all the time and just dump the old ones) to help students out. Unfortunately, we have dingbats like Zap...

    I hope they get everything that is coming to them. (Vindictive? Moi?)

  • "To its founders, ZapMe had a noble vision defeated by a handful of naysaying activists opposed to any commercialism in schools and ready to jump to conclusions about the company's use of data about the students' computer use"

    "It's heartbreaking for me," he said. "That opportunity we gave America's schools was taken away" by "a few people."

    Do what you want, but I will have a drink tonight. If all privacy-fucking ideas (can anyone says digital convergence ?) could die this way...


  • They were still the property of Zap Me, who put them into schools for free. Now that they aren't allowed to put their advertising on them anymore, they have to take back their property. The schools can also buy the comptuers from the company if they want to keep them.

    Saying ZapMe is "sending a bill to the schools" is a bit misleading.

  • If you had actually read the article, you would have noted that it was stated the contract gave the company the right to take back or charge for the computers at their discretion.
  • Was going to happen when they work with a company called ZapMe. If I was to get into a business relatinship with we'regoingtofuckyourealbad Inc., I guess I'd have to figure going in that I was going to take it in the shorts.

    This points out a fundemental problem with the U.S. education system. Those folks in the U.S. are being taught by teachers and administrators that are just plain stupid. WTF did they think was going to happen. Now after they invested 4K US, what are they going to do next? I'll bet they go and hire a consultant for another 4K US and blow even moe education money. It''s a shame that the US educates it's folks with teachers that carpool from the trailor park each day and that little johnnies teacher is also trailor park patty, just on her day job because that's the only caliber of people they can find that will work for 20K US a year. Hell, garbage men in my country get more than that. Wake up america, if you want to compete, educate your population. Even at the higher levels of education, even up to post grad studies, the US pales comapred to most 2nd world countries.

  • The answer is "Smooth Marlboro flavor"
  • by Anonymous Coward
    is that ZapMe or FuckMe?

  • by trolebus ( 234192 ) on Friday November 03, 2000 @07:20AM (#653072) Homepage
    I used to go to a school in California that subscribed to a service called Channel 1. Basically in excange for free TVs and VCRs the school would show us an add ridden, could not be called news by any stretch of the immagination, "news" program that lasted about 20 minutes a morning. While it was a great time to get some homework done it was sickening to see how low schools had to go to get equipment. The really sad part is that even though they got all that gear very few teachers even used it.

    It was amazing how many people took it for real news. Some of their tech coverage bordered on blantant lying.

  • I think what he means is something where traffic coming from slashdot is automatically let into a story, without having to log in at all.

    Perhaps if they explained that pretty much noone here is going to give correct demographic information to read stories about invasion of privacy (can you smell the irony here?)anyway. I would reccomend Roblimo or whoever does the wheeling/dealing get in touch with them, and in exchange for not having everyone here mess with their marketing department by listing themselves as 120 year old brain surgeons with interests in cars and modeling, offer some basic info that would still allow them to target ads to traffic coming from slashdot (computer companies, technotoys, etc) so that we could click a link and have it log in with a blessed generic user/pass, and everyone wins.

    Failing that, just click the link and on the login page, erase everything up to and including the second "www" and type in there "partners". Works every time...

    Fist Prost

    "We're talking about a planet of helpdesks."
  • While I was working for the UW, my boss and I would head over to University surplus and pick up a stack of 486's and early pentiums. He was an authorized buyer for his kid's elementary school, and we could pick up a stack of 5 pcs for about US$ 100. Out of the five, we could generally build three or four working systems. Together with the odd scanner or die hard HP LaserJet, we could ensure adequate computers in his kids classrooms.

    Granted, I wasn't providing training or support, and beyond the occasional semi-defective hub I wasn't providing any networking either. But that's still a far cry from US$3,000/school/month. What level of advertising revenue were they expecting to pull to cover that kind of expenditure?

    Frankly, providing adequate computing resources to schools is almost never as expensive as it's made out to be. Some courses, maybe CAD or programing in high school might require faster systems or high end monitors. But word processing, spread sheets, typing courses, or searching the web for useful content and the like don't require a screaming fast system or connection.

  • aka TANSTAAFL, which sounds like a city near Istanbul, but isn't.

  • 1) I have read thru the subscription agreement and it does not state anywhere, that the schools are to be charged for the equipment. But it does state that the computer equipment can only be used the with 'approved' zapme use , which means technically nothing can be done on those computer without zapme's approval. 2) The computers HAVED to be in use for 4 hours out of the day. Does that mean students have to be forced to view ads or that they are denied educational time to be forced to use the zapme system? (note that 4hrs per computer not student). 3) All lesson plans or educational material used with the zapme equipment becomes property of zapme with no recompense or credit to be made to the actually creator of the material (doesnt this technically violate IP laws?).Can we say ala homestead. 4) This already has been referenced in the media but, the equipment can be used by other parties after hours and zapme doesnt not have to pay for any school resources or equipment used. 5) According to the agreement no 3rd party software nor material maybe used without zapme's permission. OHNO guess that mavis teaches typing is illegal to use on the computers without zapme's written consent. Also it means nor more unauthorized lesson plans according to the guidelines in the zapme agreement. (this may not be enforced) 6) Zapme's user agreement is automatically in place for everyone in the school (hmm, doesnt this violate the shrink wrap license agreement laws)? 7) The school shall provide user logs to zapme including names and personal information to 'verify user accts'. Not to mention its the schools responsibility to provide edited user logs providing age, grade, and gender. Hmm I guess that means the schools are doing the marketing work directly for zapme then correct? Just some thoughts and ideas
  • Face it, despite the ravings of Browne and Nader, our children will grow up in an America that's largely controlled by corporations.

    Check out some of Nader's "ravings" here [essential.org], including the damning truth about ZapMe (Commercial Alert is a group founded by Nader).

    This is one way in which Nader differs from the two major presidential candidates. All of them see a decline in the childhood experience, but the Bush/Gore response is to censor or rate film, television and the internet. In contrast, Nader's solutions prevent the over-commercialization of schools. Whereas Bush and Gore propose mandatory internet filters in schools and libraries, Nader wants to eliminate Channel One, ZapMe, exclusive soft drink contracts with schools, etc.

    America was founded by corporations (Hudson BAy Company, anyone), and corporations have caused America to become the great place it is, do you remember "What's good for General Motors is good for America."

    ZapMe will not contribute to anyone's future greatness. The junk products peddled by ZapMe and their destructive advertising strategies do not add overall value to America or anywhere else.

  • What like RJR, McDonalds or Pizza Hut?

    I do realize that most corporations have dubious motives for what they do. Yes, a normal corporation is not going to do a project if they are loosing money for it.

    But there are cases where corporate sponsorship can be good. I speak in particular of Pizza Hut's "Book it" program. For those of you who are not familar with it, grade school children set reading goals, (so much time/ so many books etc...) and if they meet those goals, they are rewarded with a coupon for a free personal sized pizza at Pizza Hut. If the entire class meets the goals, the whole class gets a pizza party at year end.

    If we consider getting kids to read a good thing, this definatly counts as a good thing. What is a child going to be more apt to do: read because at the end he gets rewarded with a pizza, or read just because his teachers/parents force him to?

    Of course this isn't causing Pizza Hut to loose money. When the kid goes in to redeem his pizza, he most likely drags a parent along, who then has to buy a pizza at regular price. In addition, it fosters good will and loyalty toward Pizza Hut. ("Let's go to Pizza Hut, Mom! They're nice!")

    So although Pizza Hut is benefiting, don't be quick to judge the program as bad. Although Pizza Hut gets money and good will out of the program, the kids in the program also get something out of it: they're encouraged to read. It's a win-win situation. And as long as Pizza Hut doesn't put overly restrictive conditions on the program, I don't see any problem with it.

  • Frankly, I find the idea that government has such a huge hand in education equally innocuous. What more perfect place for a government to brainwash it's citizens with it's propaganda.
    You know, I'm not really too worried about the Baltimore County government inflicting propaganda on students. What are they going to do, feed students jingoism about how superior we are than people across the river in Howard County?

    So long as things are still controlled at the local level, I don't see that public schools are any more propaganda centers than private ones. Certainly less so that religious schools, which constitute the majority of private schools around here.

  • Failing that, just click the link and on the login page, erase everything up to and including the second "www" and type in there "partners".
    Or use "cypherpunks01" as the login and password.
  • BTW, forgetting about the specifics of this contract,

    If the contract between the school and the corporation was for free computers, no conditions

    ...then it's not a contract.

    contracts must entail an exchange, something given in consideration for something received. If there had been no consideration, the company would still own everything. And, that still applies if the contract stipulated consideration but it was never delivered.

  • If you had read it, you would have seen:
    We never gave the computers to the schools" outright, Mr. Mortensen said. And William R. Connon, a Hartford lawyer who represents the Plainfield Township schools, said the ZapMe contract gives the company the right to charge for its services or to take them back.
    And the reason it couldn't continue:
    The company insists that while it reserved the contractual right to track students' surfing habits individually, it never gathered anything more than their age, sex and ZIP code - information it then shared in aggregate form with advertisers. When the company announced a program called ZapPoints, which would have given students points toward prizes while gathering personally identifiable information about them, the outcry was so swift and loud that ZapMe quickly discontinued the idea.
    Yes, you clearly are not a lawyer.
  • Well, I'm a South African, schooled during the apartheid era. To compare what gets taught in "South African history" before 1994 and after 1994, you would think they were different countries .. the history I was taught was very one-sided in favour of whites .. now it's turned around .. you get a fairly one-sided black perspective. Also, when I went to school, school prayer and classes preaching Christianity were mandated, but that has now been dropped, and is probably now closer to American schools in that regard - i.e. they *still* preach Christianity, and they still pray in schools and so on, but it is more of a voluntary thing that individuals can opt out of, or do stuff more specific to their own religions.

    How much do your schools' history classes focus on the ugly side of American history (like genocide of indians, the until-recently oppression of black people, the until somewhat recently lack of women's rights, prohibition etc) ? Just asking .. curious. My perception of American schools comes from what I see in TV and movies .. and from this side, it looks like American schools are full of pro-USA patriotism propaganda, all that "this country is so great" BS entrenched in all the little kids brains from a young age. Like I say, I can only comment on what I see in TV and movies.

  • Actually, it still can be a contract without conditions. The conditions I was referring to were for use or for information gathering. I should have made that more clear.

    And I have heard of corporations giving away computers, scott-free, but still setting up a contract which spells out exactly what shape the computers are in, and that the school agreed not to sue the corp for anything that happened to or with the computers that could not be satisfactorily laid at the corp's feet. (I.e. if little Johnny hacks into a goverment server using one of these computers, it's not the corp's fault for donating the computer that was used.)

    Yeah, a lot of that is common sense understood, but corps like spelling it out anyway. Gives corporate lawyers something to do when there are no lawsuits pending.

  • I stand by my post. It's not just a good idea; it's the law. Yes, you can give things away, but you can't write a contract that obligates you to give things away. It ain't a contract if there's no consideration. IANAL, But I Don't Have To Be in this case because I'm tellin' you the troof.
  • by Thackeri ( 203958 ) on Friday November 03, 2000 @07:20AM (#653086)
    Erm, is it just me or isn't the site obligation.org [obligation.org] a little extreme, strident, odd? Two bits that jumped out at me were:
    • [pic of doom II box] Picture of ultra-violent video game taken from ZapBuys web site.

    • [pic of marylin manson] ZapMe! allows children to have full access to Amazon.com. All they need is a credit card number and they can order the most vile music and sleaziest movies. Make no mistake - ZapMe! wants to convert children's allowance money into revenue for its advertisers. That is how they will make money.
    I know it's important to protect children from bad influences but I don't think the people who wrote the page referred to are particularly objective on this.

    Not that I'm standing up for amazon but they're hardly major corrupters of children. It wouldn't suprise me if this site is against the Simpsons and Buffy!

    Thank goodness this is in America!

  • by biftek ( 145375 ) on Friday November 03, 2000 @07:20AM (#653087)
    As usual, try the partners.nytimes link

    http://partners.ny tim es.com/2000/11/02/technology/02COMP.html [nytimes.com]

  • by tippergore ( 32520 ) on Friday November 03, 2000 @07:21AM (#653088) Homepage
    One more example of a bad business model that should have never been accepted by anyone. Just like channel one, students get a small benefit in exchange for the inescapable corporatist propaganda they are forced to swallow.

    This stuff is partially our fault. Geeks should volunteer their time more than the norm. Imagine what could be accomplished if a few nerds got ahold of a four thousand dollars? You could build many good usable computers for that pricetag. Maybe they wouldn't be up to par for running Word 2000, but they would certainly be capable of teaching introductory to advanced computer courses, that's for sure.

    Microsoft 'innovation' forces many schools to get into an inescapable loop of buying newer hardware to run software that's not all that much different from previos versions. My friend is currently working as a student teacher, and he's completely stranded technologically when he enters the school. They just don't have the resources or the know-how to get wired, a little linux and a little help would help out a lot.

    I hadn't really thought seriously about voluteering before reading this, but it appears that public schools are desperate enough to submit to the demands of greedy profiteers. Its got to stop, and it appears the only way to stop it is to offer alternatives.

  • by paeanblack ( 191171 ) on Friday November 03, 2000 @07:24AM (#653089)
    Bobby buys a pack of Marlboro Lights. He smokes alf of them, then a friend bums one, then he smokes a third of what's left. How many does he have left?

    a) WALMART
    c) L.L. BEAN

    Describe the process used by Dr. Hammond to bring the dinosaurs back from extinction:

    Viral marketing of your test answers will require taking student ethics classes.
  • Respectfully, I beg to disagree.

    America is a corporatacracy, always has been, alwyas will. America was founded by corporations (Hudson BAy Company, anyone), and corporations have caused America to become the great place it is, do you remember "What's good for General Motors is good for America."

    Face it, despite the ravings of Browne and Nader, our children will grow up in an America that's largely controlled by corporations. Which child will be better suited for life in such a world, one who has experienced the give and take or corporations from day one, and knows that anything a corporation gives you will have a price tag, or a child reared in a socialistic society where the real price tag for things is dsiguised in fees and taxes.

    What child will be better adjusted, a child who is used to watching corporations fiercely battle and evolve, or die out, or a child who has had their socialistic world suddenly trampled upon a change of governments?

    Now, corporations do have their abuses, but they also have a vested interest in having healthy, affluent consumers purchasing their products. The only consumer goverments have are welfare clients.
  • I strongly disdagee.

    Your post speaks to a marrage of business and education. They are one in the same. The business of governement that is. If the UUS government (the biggest business) encouraged a more socialist view, this would never have happened. The people of the US are under the false impression that they live in a democracy. They don't. They live in a republic. Big difference. Democrocy has failed time and time again throughout history, why do the arrogant americans beleive it will succeed this time? Because they are mainly steeped deep in the fundamental beleif that they, as citizens can overcome and do it on their own. Fact is they can't. You need a powerful governement to assist and pave the way for the citizens to succeed. The americans beleive the government is only there to build roads and basic infrastructure. You have the tools use them!

"Just the facts, Ma'am" -- Joe Friday