Stories From Main Street: Montvale School Ditches Books, Chalkboards For Laptops

MONTVALE, NJ (WCBS 880) – Times are changing. Technology is everywhere at the Pascack Valley Regional High School District in northern New Jersey. Forget about the chalk and blackboard.

WCBS 880’s Sean Adams in North Jersey

In this district, teachers don’t say “Open your textbook.” They say, “Open your laptop.”

“Basically, in every class, we’re using laptops to take notes on Microsoft Word. It’s more organized,” says Andrea, a sophomore.

Seven years ago, while Andrea was still in elementary school, Pascack Valley became the first high school district in New Jersey to give every student a laptop.

“Before, without the computers, I’d have to carry around a lot more textbooks and stuff. My backpack weighed 50 pounds. Now, it’s like five pounds of notebooks and stuff,” says Andrea.

Stories from Main Street - Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

Stories from Main Street - Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

RELATED: More Stories from Main Street

“I’d say the vast majority of our subject areas have broken away from textbooks,” says Erik Gunderson, director of curriculum. “We have our teachers collaborating with one another in the various school buildings that we have. And so they’ll either Skype or video conference.”

The students, too, are making internet connections with their laptops.

“Students in a molecular genetics course, they’re conducting authentic research in the classroom and they’re communicating their findings with graduate assistants and professors at the Rutgers Waksman Institute [of Microbiology],” says Gunderson.

Another sophomore, Annie, says, “In math, currently, we’re working on sketch pad, which is … a program where you can design different shapes and things like that and learn about medians and centroids.”

“If you were to walk around our classes, you’d see students using Google Docs to share documents, to peer edit their papers. You’d walk into a science classroom and they may be using a Wiki space so that they can their data that they’re getting from an experiment,” says Gunderson.

Do you think all schools should take up the same practice? Sound off below

Laptops link to sensors and collect data in science experiments.

He adds that students also videoconference with others around the world.

“Now we’ve had students that have been collaborating on projects with students in Taiwan, China, and we have an Italian class that holds class very early in the morning every Friday morning with a school in Italy,” says Gunderson

Matthew Kutolowski teaches Chinese. In his class, the flash cards are digital.

“They never lose the cards. They never get beat up. The dog never chews them. They don’t forget to brind them to class. They always have them,” says Kutolowski. “And these are talking flash cards.”

Students also learn digital photography, video editing, and web design.

“We’re using our laptops to film workout videos of us using the machines and we’re importing them into iMovie and editing them to show our class,” says Andrea.

Recently, the National School Boards Association even visited for a tech tutorial.

The Pascack Valley Regional High School District operates both Pascack Hills High School in Montvale and Pascack Valley High School in Hillsdale.

More from Sean Adams

    Yes We Can Build a


    • Ryder

      Maybe you should be asking… “can what?” “Yes we can fail” is not a good result.

      Enough with the “feel good” politics already. It’s for children, not adults.

    • hmmm

      maybe you shouldn’t?

  • Ham i nMD

    What is wrong with you people? Go back to pencil and paper, are you kidding me? Let’s take away calculators to use a slide rule or abacus; replace cell phones with good old hand-written letters and surface mail, and why bother with cable TV, let’s all sit around and watch the radio. Why force our children to memorize useless facts when then can be looked up on-line? The ‘Three Rs of Education’ (Readin, riting and rithmatic) is a thing of the past! This is the information age of sharing, networking and communicating: Facebook, Skype, Twitter. It is about knowing immediately about everything that is happening everywhere. It’s a consciousness of change that we see happening in the Middle East every night. Our children need to understand and learn how to use this capability to mold the future not to understand why outdated technologies worked for us. I wish my school system would use this capability – I’m all for it.

    • Ryder

      you shouldn’t be. The ONLY thing that matters here is RESULTS. If you are thinking or caring about ANYTHING ELSE, you are drinking from a huge bucket of fail.

      The move to laptops is a massive fail. It’s going to really set these kids back. I know. I use computers every day for both work and education, and I have been a teacher. PC’s are a distraction, and a barrier that comes BETWEEN students and teachers.

      This is a stupid, expensive exercise, and is right in line with how US schools find more and more ways to deliver less at higher cost, as has been the trend for decades now.

      Stupid, stupid, stupid.

      • Ryder

        Paying for too much administration is ALSO stupid. There is plenty of stupid at our institutions of learning. far, far too much stupid.

      • Bruno Behrend

        No. It is not stupid. Paying taxes for 15,000 needless school districts and administration is stupid.

        Doing what we’ve done for decades, more money for more payroll and more buildings and more textbooks and more bus routes, and more payroll, and more pensions…

        That’s what’s stupid.

      • MMMMMMM

        Stupid is continuing to fund a completely BROKEN public education system. Give out vouchers and let the parents put thier children in whatever school they want. The public schools will either get better or go away. Oh yeh, you also have to tell the public schools that they have to live within thier means (balanced budget). The school right down the street from my house has just installed huge red flashing signs wasting 1,000s of dollars so they can say little johnnie did good. They have NO friggin clue what they are doing.

    • mobynowak

      “It is about knowing immediately about everything that is happening everywhere.”
      Regardless of the relevance, importance or benefit to one’s future.

      “This is the information age of sharing, networking and communicating: Facebook, Skype, Twitter.” OMG 4 shur. Y du we need spelling? 2 ba thA cant cr8 anything.

      No wonder China is kicking our butts. We are becoming a nation of non-thinking ignorant imbeciles incapable of formulating a single thought and being able to solve a single problem, but they know who the Kardashian twits are hooked up with this evening. And that is Soooooo important.

      • Adonis JonnyPu

        um…China is kicking our butts because their schools are already high tech. They put MUCH more funding in their educational systems, They have higher testing standards (which is arguably worse because they breed students without imagination and originality, but that’s another argument for another day). They do not yell at teachers for getting such ‘amazing’ benefits as Healthcare and Retirement and livable wages (which is something every employer should provide just from an HR and PR perspective). Teachers are also evaluated by performance, but again that causes issues of corruption and teaching material that the government deems correct (and silencing free speech to w/e Big Brother demands).

      • MMMMMMM

        Before you start quoting what China is doing you had better go there and see for yourselves. Most of what you hear in the news is FALSE they are feeding you the information that they need you to hear so you will support thier social programs.

        In other words… It aint all peachy in China either!

      • Adonis JonnyPu

        Yes. China is a country that lacks basic civil rights protections from their workers, and allows them to be slaves. They do not have ‘evil’ organized unions (guess you wana be more like them, eh?). They force families to kill their children. They violently suppress freedom of speech. Never said China is the almighty savior of the land or that I have any respect for the government that runs their establishment…

        But they do spend their money on education. And the results do pay off.

    • Adonis JonnyPu

      Yay for common sense!

      Technology is not evil. Embrace it! Don’t shy away from it.

  • Brian Smeltzer

    Teaching cannot be done the same way when computers are introduced. Most of the arguments compare old ways of teaching with new possibilities. It’s like trying to apply principles of horse and buggies to a car. Things have to change. Teaching can’t be lecture based nearly as much as it is now. It has to be more broadly challenge or project based where students are figuring out how to do things on their own, while being directed by a teacher. Schools also have the right to filter websites that are visited on school owned computers. It’s really up to the teacher. They can suck it up or they can use it as an asset to what they do.

    • Ryder

      Or they can fail.

      What NOBODY is talking about is CHECKING to see what happens to the kids. Do they perform better? Are they learning more?

      That is the ONLY THING THAT MATTERS.

  • Enlightened1

    What’s a chalkboard…Oh I forgot it’s not politically correct to say: BLACK BOARD. That’s why I took my two children out the schools in Montvale…they forget to mention their plummeting test scores. PRIVATE SCHOOL ALL THE WAY!!

    • Zack

      Maybe they said chalkboard because not all chalkboards are black, all the ones in my school are green. I would think one so enlightened would try to make a point rather than make it about race. I’m just glad you didn’t decide to home school.

      • DLewis

        There is not one chalkboard, greenboard, or blackboard in our school. They are all whiteboards – seriously! They did away with chalkboards here a long time ago.

    • andrew

      most chalkboards these days are actually green. so it’s not so much politically incorrect to say “blackboard”. Its just incorrect. Its a board, meant for chalk, is it not? I agree things are way too PC these days. But your argument doesn’t really help this thread.

      • Adonis JonnyPu

        um….you do realize that the site educators use for posting online content IS called “Blackboard”…….?

        *facepalm* :-/

  • Julianna Golas

    We are giving the students way too much credit and assuming that they are using the laptops constructively. As a college prof. I know many students bring laptops to class with the good intentions of taking notes, but find themselves browsing the internet, checking facebook or playing games. This is huge investment for any school system to undertake and maintain and empirical evidence has not adequately demonstrated any significant gains in test scores. Another example of America spending way too much on education with little to show for it.

    • SReed

      Yes! Finally, a truth-teller!

  • rationalist

    Gazillions of laptop computers – and hey wonder why school systems are going broke…

  • eleanorpetryphotography

    So why even go to school?
    It has become nothing more than a taxpayer-funded nanny service/daycare facility. You can receive world-class online instruction via the internet at home – free. No more property taxes wasted on school buildings/physical plants, overpaid administrators/union hacks, gangs, undisciplined bullies.
    “No more textbooks, no more ule books, no more teachers’ dirty looks…”

  • sk

    the school system has not shown/proved taht this technological system works better. there is npothing great to show about this program if they can show great lasting results/students success related to new technology. it just sounds like wasting thousand of dollars, and taking away jobs from aothors/book complanies

    • mhmm

      Many textbooks are available in e-book or .pdf format from the vendors. No money is lost, they are providing it to you in a different format. Why not?

      • Brian Smeltzer

        the difference is that many of the textbook vendors charge for the ebooks each year as opposed to the paper copy is a one time charge. They don’t necessarily charge less for the ebook either.

  • Justin Time

    Bill Gates only allows his children to use the computer for 1 hour a day.

    • andrew

      The Gates Children will never have to work a day in their life. Their life can hardly be compared to the life of the Average American.

  • Deb

    I believe a Kindle would be great; no reason to carry around the heavy books.

    However, computers…are you kidding me?

    I can just hear the excuses now; my computer experienced a ‘blue screen’, my computer system needed to update and I spent hours on that, my hard drive died and all my weeks of work is gone.

    When little Johnnie doesn’t receive an A+ in English because his computer died,his parents will file a lawsuit, they will win millions from the hardworking citizens, the teacher will be reprimanded, and little Johnnie will never work a day in his life.

  • justpassingthru

    Where did they get the money for all this??? My son wasn’t even allowed to write in (or bring home) his workbook; he would come home w/a looseleaf paper of useless answers and no questions to go with them.

    • Jimmy

      The computers are probably cheaper than textbooks. Have you priced textbooks lately?

      • WeThePeople

        But the books are just as expensive.
        And you cannot buy a used eBook.

    • andrew

      1 laptop vs. maybe 5 to 8 textbooks… The laptop is undoubtedly cheaper. And they have about the same lifespan too (meaning they are outdated-or in the case of books, too well used- after just a few years).

  • Tom Anderson

    “Students also learn digital photography, video editing, and web design.”

    Gee, there’s some great training for the world out there. I mean, web design is such a GROWING field out there, right? And communicating to others in Italy! Wow, video editing! What’s the big class project, a music video? Hey, who wants to be Britney Spears!

    Did I miss the line that english/math/science grades are up at the school since the laptops arrived? No?

    • John D. Shepherd

      The Kansas City, Kansas school district, has had such a program in place for more than four years and now all middle and high school students have a laptop. Due to a publicity campaign the first year informing everyone that the laptops have a GPS system that will allow the school district to track (and if needed, destroy the hard drive) stolen computers few of the 6000 plus laptops have been damaged. Three things have resulted from this program: scores for the students grades and standardized tests have gone up (something that a billion dollars of investment over 10 years under the direction of a federal judge failed to do), graduation rates (which were dismally low in this primarily minority school district) increased, and graffiti and damages to bathrooms (a common problem in most inner city school districts) has virtually disappeared. Oh one last thing, while that have both laptops with windows and mac operating systems, the majority are macs do to the reduced costs of maintaining the computers (clearing off viruses, keystroke counting bugs, etc.).

      • thomas anderson

        John, sorry, not buying it. In the context of THIS article, if student grades had gone up, they certainly would have reported it.

        You are absolutely right about Macs being less problematic. But they cost signficantly more and can still be easily damaged in a drop.

  • Tom Anderson

    As an IT guy, I gotta ask the question. How much does “blue screen” issues, driver problems, or all the rest impact the time for study? How about all Microsoft’s drivers that constantly need to be updated? My company’s policy for twitchy computers is to REPLACE them, or at the very least, reimage the whole thing. Are the students adept at doing that, or do they have all have to employ an IT team in addition to keep all the d$## laptops going? More hidden costs.

    • Brian Smeltzer

      There’s a reason many more schools go to Macs instead of Windows based computers. The school I’m working with is moving to Macs for every student in the fall and after plenty of research, there are many more back end costs to non-Macs as there are front end costs to a having Macs. Most of the time, schools contract with an Apple certified business to have them a few hours a day to fix problems that arise. Our school is ordering a dozen extra to switch out with problem computers. There are a few costs extra for the school but many other costs (printer paper, textbooks) go down so it’s fairly even in the end.

      • thomas anderson

        Show me Brian that in your district grades have been signficantly improved across the board with the introduction of laptops.

        Until then, it’s all window dressing. Period.

  • keith

    moving towards electronic everything can hurt us…all it would take is one sunflare at the right spot to kill our electrical systems, or even a terrorist with a nuclear dirty bomb to create an EMP and its all gone

    • Tom Anderson

      Agreed Keith, but as I mentioned in my screed above, it wouldn’t even take that. Viruses, system crashes, hardware failures, driver issues all add up to potential total downtime.

      To me, this equates to giving kids learning math calculators. Calculators are tools to speed things up once you KNOW math, not to help you learn it.

      You need nothing more than paper, pencil, books and a good teacher to learn anything in our wealth of knowledge. Anything else is glittery frosting.

      • Homer Simpson

        mmmm, glittery frosting arrrgg

      • andrew

        good luck finding a “good teacher”

  • Kevin

    Americans are like OMG so advanced and like feminized. This nation is on a downward spiral that no one can stop. We are, in all reality, a weak and clueless nation today. Giving little immature ignorant feminized brats laptops will not change anything. Most can’t even speak good English.

    • andrew

      haha, oh Kevin. “speak good English”. What a scholar you are..

      • svs95

        “Good” as a modifier for “English” is perfectly acceptable. If he had said “can’t speak good,” that would be bad grammar, but there’s nothing wrong with “good English.”

        As for the rest of his comments, I can’t agree. I can see the potential for great benefit, and the potential for great mischief. Laptops are a tool. They can be used or abused. As computer-dependent as our workplaces are today, I say let’s give this a solid try. It can hardly produce worse results than what we’re already doing!

      • Tom Anderson

        What would we do without the Grammar Police.

        I should have spelled it Grammer to really p*** the wankers off.

    • evan

      “most cant speak good english”

      oh the irony

    • Elvis Veizi

      Most can’t even speak English well*

    • caraeghettu

      Thumbs up !!

  • Mike Burns

    Eight years ago my daughters school, Immaculate Heart Academy in Washington Township, N.J. had each student buy a laptop through the school. Designed to improve the learning process, the laptop became a portal of abuse. At home studies were assigned (homework) which required internet access, which also led to our daughter instant messaging her friends, talking on Facebook, exchanging photos and music files, surfing the web, instead of concentrating on her assignments. Attempts to monitor her work were futile as she would cover her usage history tracks(as learned from classmates) Her grades suffered terribly. Math became an impossible exercise without use of pencil and paper and practical study methods. These bad habits followed into college and she still to this day has a large network of “Computer friends” and few real life friends with whom to interact. She spends an absurd amount of time (8 hours + a day) on line , talking to these friends. This “school computer” stole my daughters brain and personality ……

    • andrew

      These bad habits you are speaking of are the result of your bad parenting. YOU could have restricted her internet access to only educational sites. YOU could have blocked all social networking sites. YOU. But you didn’t. You made PARENTING YOUR CHILD the responsibility of the school. If you daughter’s “brain and personality” were stolen, it’s your own damn fault.

      • svs95

        I agree. Blue Coat’s K9 Web Protection is a free Internet and parental controls filter that’s available for Mac and PCs, and it is free of charge. It also WORKS. You can limit the times of day, as well as the types of sites that can be viewed on any computer. Doesn’t require any cooperation or appreciation from the kid.

      • Mike Burns

        Andrew, I had no say in the operation and control of the computer assigned by the school and no software programs were allowed to be installed on them…..YOU making assumptions sound like one of the robotized,laptop toting students who’s brain gas also been stolen by the internet. Get off your computer games and take in the fact that most all of America’s kids are facing the same problem. There have been many articles published about this phenomena. Look at your local playgrounds and tell me if they are not deserted. All the kids are home playing on their computers, No social interaction. The parents are doing the same thing,playing with their Iphones or Ipads…

  • a p garcia

    I am not sure that ditching tetbooks infavor of computers and facebook is a good idea. I say this because electronic communications bring out the worst in English writing, spelling, and grammar. I am an ex-teacher who uses facebook, computers and see exstudents write and see tons of mistakes and also their parents.

    • andrew

      as an aside, your punctuation isn’t all that great either…

      • Tom Anderson

        Andrew, shouldn’t your sentence begin with a capital letter?

        I don’t personally care about spelling and grammar on a posting. But if you’re going to play the part of the Grammar Police, we all would appreciate absolutely perfect grammar and spelling from you.

    • andrew

      That’s because they don’t care-not because they don’t know. I use emoticons and make mistakes when typing. It doesn’t mean I don’t know how to spell. It means I am a horrible typist. I wish I had had laptops in school. Maybe I would know how to type better… seeing as how we all use computers now. Let me ask you: when was the last time you sent a letter in the mail. A letter. Not paid a bill. Not Netflix. A handwritten letter. Or did you type out an email…

  • Airdoc

    I’ve heard of a school district that went the way of the Kindle rather then the more expensive laptops. So instead of having to carry 20 lbs of books home they have the same books on their Kindle.

    • Dk Hipkins

      This is great when all of the textbooks you want are available. However, a Kindle doesn’t replace all of the functionality of a computer.

  • Karmi

    Can they read yet? How about basic addition, e.g. 1 plus 3 equals what?

    • CM

      shh! don’t point out the obvious!

      the important thing is to spend lots of money on laptops!

  • MsCommonSense

    In Pennsylvania, they have been doing this for 15 years in suburban schools! Chalkboards were replaced by smartboards and laptops…..15 years ago!

  • FREE THE ND 88

    To better prepare them for

  • Kathleen

    As outlined in the Agenda 21 OWO agenda – eliminate teachers and indoctrinate every student with identical propaganda. Incrementally all schools will use computers/video to teach children. Good to know that Comrade (I mean student!) A on the east coast will be trained exactly as Comrade B on the west coast as the taxpayers have the privilege of paying for this.

    • Bruno Behrend

      technology will reduce indoctrination, not increase it, as children and families can find all kinds of on-line content to augment what is in schools.

      The idea that the current district system protects against indoctrination, or that your schools aren’t engines of indoctrination right now is laughable. As you dismantle the district and increase family and student autonomy, you reduce the chance of indoctrination.

    • Joe Blow

      Duh, winning!

  • RB

    This is one more dopey idea that costs taxpayers a fortune, but fails the smell test. Show me the data that demonstrates that kids become better students via this media. The proliferation of expensive hardware here in the U.S. has had very little or no impact on American students math or science rankings worldwide. As a veteran Advanced Placement science teacher I am one of the dinosaurs in my HS who shuns powerpoint as a method of teaching. (my AP bio scores are the highest of any subject in the school) My students are “powerpointed out” to the point where their eyes are glazed over. They love my “chalk and talk” method. Cool, glitzy, colorful photos consume too many superfluous neuronal circuits in the brain, thus uselessly wasting concentration efforts. If you query the older, expeienced teachers you will two disquiteing facts about todays students. Inability to maintain focus and loss of knowledge depth. The “educators” with doctor of education degrees are largely responsible for the precipitous decline in American academics. I could go on and on, but it is far too depressing. The enlightenment of the American student is long past, thanks to these feckless, unrelenting technologies.

    • Old-Fashioned College Grad

      Right on!! Glad to still hear from you veteran teachers who still get RESULTS by teaching the “old-fashioned” way. I get tired of our new age educators extolling the virtues of new technology used to teach today’s students and continuously seeing our 12th grade math and science scores on international universal tests not even making the TOP 20 in comparison to their peers in other industrialized countries. Our kids cannot focus for long; just watch them with the TV remote.

    • Fabio Escobar

      I’m only a ten-year college teaching veteran, and I only teach philosophy. I can’t speak to a lot of the changes referenced in this story. I can’t disagree with much of what you’ve said, RB. All I can add is that the inherent hierarchical infrastructure of computer-based organization is a boon to us logic teachers. Anyone who wants to teach inferential skills and clarity of thought has a friend in the modern folder-based hierarchically-structured computer.

      I also see the problems with attention span and what you call knowledge depth (if I know what you mean by that). I also see computers providing students with a model for how to organize their own thoughts and how ideas and concepts connect with one another in an inferential structure. There’s value to that, and thus there’s value in the use of these technologies. Is the value sufficient to throw out the chalk? Doubtful. In fact, I teach logic with nothing but chalk — but I also require my students to type up their notes and retain a running record of the class. The old and the new commingle rather neatly in some cases.

      • russ

        Pardon me. I meant to say, “Get bent you posturing wienie”. Sorry.

      • russ

        Get bent,Teach.

  • john

    Hey, why do we need buildings or teachers?

    • Bruno Behrend

      We need many fewer. We can deeply cut feather-bedded staff and overhead.

  • TruthMeister

    Sounds like a great place to learn. I wonder what the district spends per child compared to the budgets of large inner city schools. Only concern is that there is a growing body of evidence that seems to indicate that our society’s heavy use of screens is hurting people’s vision later in life. TV screens, computer screens, mobile phone screens. We’ll see how all of this ends up.

  • RB


  • cupcake

    Amazingly stupid, they need to keep the chalk/white boards and replace the overpriced text books with something like a kindle. To buy new laptops for each student, every couple of years, if not every year is ridiculous beyond belief! Ignorance at its finest.

    • DLewis

      I work for a telecommunications company in San Diego, and we have been in collaboration with Amazon to do just that – download textbooks onto Kindle. I love the idea – I do not love the idea of handing out laptops to every student. As for lugging around textbooks – my son is a sophomore and we actually weighed his backpack – fully-loaded. It was 25 lbs. In order to solve this, I went online and bought used textbooks for very cheap- I understand not everyone can afford it- but he keeps those used ones at home and then keeps the school-owned ones at school in his locker. Solved the problem of him lugging stuff around. And then I pass down the gently-used textbooks to other students that live on our block. I have been doing this since he was in middle school and it works great. I have had other parents say “I never thought of doing that.” Sure helps the kid’s backs, when they are lugging around 25 pounds of books, a musical instrument case, and a lunchbox. Just my 2 cents.

    • Bruno Behrend

      With an I-pad in the $500 range, pink slipping 2 $100K needless administrators buys 500 I-pads.

      I ask everyone reading this article to stop thinking inside the failed existing paradigm of massive payroll, buildings, and bureaucracy.

      It shouldn’t be about the amount of spending, but the amount of learning. If we can more education (connected neurons) for LESS money, then we’d be silly not to take advantage of what technology offers.

      • carl

        No, not an iPad, it would not be used solely for reading/learning and costs almost 4 times as much as a kindle, and I’m sure they could get bulk rates on the kindle too. The kindle should be used to replace text books and other paper work.

  • awest521

    This is a terrible idea. Not all students will be geared to learn from a computer screen. If you’re like me, you simply can’t get from a computer screen what you would get from a physical text book and face-to-face learning environment. I’m a straight A college student. The only class I’ve ever dropped was an online math class; because despite doing all the work and following all the lectures I failed the first two exams. When I took the same class in a traditional environment the following semester I ended up with the highest grade in the class. Using technology as a tool within the tradition classroom isn’t a bad idea, but I fear that giving kids laptops instead of textbooks, and getting rid of the paper and pen will hurt more students than it will help.

    • Old-Fashioned College Grad

      Good to hear from a college student, particularly one with your feedback.. As I was reading this story and the comments, I was thinking how difficult it would be for me to take a math course primarily using a laptop. Continued success in your education.

    • Bruno Behrend

      Just because ALL students don’t or can’t learn that way is no reason to disallow access for students who do.

      This is why we must kill the “one-size-fits-all” of the outdated district system. No one should be forced to go digital, but no should be disallowed from doing so.

      Please please please think about how awful and unworkable the existing system is.

      • Dk Hipkins

        Excellent points. Well said.

  • SirGareth

    One thing that bothers me about this trend is the inability of parents to monitor what the schools are teaching (or indoctrinating) our kids with.

    In the realm of science we see the state religion of environmentalism supplanting real science and in history we see the bashing of traditional American values in favor or new world orders.

    There is certainly nothing wrong with the medium as long as parents are provided the full means of accessing the curricula. I do not trust government union thugs with the education of our children in the absence of the means of monitoring their activities.

    • steve

      Psychological issues? Do not worry you children will still love you!

  • hobb

    Why not Ubuntu or Debian with LibreOffice?????

  • Nick

    “I’d have to carry around a lot more textbooks and stuff. My backpack weighed 50 pounds. Now, it’s like five pounds of notebooks and stuff,” says Andrea.”

    Oh my gosh sweetie, so rough of a life it is…schools are shutting down, can’t pay this can’t pay that and it’s handing out laptops like notebooks because even though most families COULD AFFORD THE the same old same old can’t so everyone gets a freebie in liberal “equal opportunityland”….

    I bet many of them ‘get stolen’ ;) wink wink and end up in Pawn shops from the usual suspects …..just you wait and see..” I needs a new one, my junkie brother who juss gots home from jail done stoled mines”

  • Larry Urdahl

    The top performing high school in the State of AZ is all digital. The only reason this has not gone National yet is that States have contracts with the book makers and much corruption is involved to keep the old antiquated system of books. Some schools have been doing this for years and it saves a tremendous amount of money.

    This is not new and it works and the on line text books are up to date. For those against this check it out rather than contempt prior to investigation. You will find that this is something that needs to be in every school district in the US

    • Fabio Escobar

      And let’s not forget that often the online textbook is identical to the hard copy. Those students who do better with the old modalities can print their texts if they desire.

      • Larry Urdahl

        Not necessarily correct. The material is fresh and updated constantly. That is I am assuming that this district is combining this method with on line text books that are up to date and updated continuously.

  • Shauna

    I was skeptical of this as well, but my husband is a principal at a one-to-one school (school where every student has a laptop) in Lisbon, Iowa and it works really well. The computers are well cared for (students are financially responsible for replacing them if intentionally harmed/neglected) and it actually saves the district money as schools can cheaply access online versions of a textbook instead of paying for and storing physical copies. The teachers have been trained in the potential classroom management issues and in reality, things haven’t changed much except quality of work, organization, and variety of learning opportunities have increased.

    • Nick

      It’s all fine and good when you’re talking about suburban kids, not ghetto children who sadly 70% have no daddy, then uncle Remus living in the dining room on the dole steals it to support his crack habit

      who pays then when Xavier ‘s poor unemployed momma can’t buy a new one? Then the ‘personal responsibility clause’ gets chucked and poor little Xavier gets another one…and then the next hoodie and next hoodie and next illegal..

      .then little Johnny and sister Helen get jacked on the way to school when Uncle Remus needs another one and another one and another one.. then Johnny’s working parents have to foot the bill for theirs..

      That’s how these things always go ..

      • Shauna

        So we shouldn’t try something because it won’t be as workable in an extremely poor area like the ghetto? Each district should be able to try what they believe will work best for their students and families.

  • racecar

    This usn’t anything new. Niagara Falls, NY built a state-of-the-art high school that incorporated laptops, electronic chaulk boards, no text books, etc. The school opened in 2000. Each of the 3800 students were issued a laptop. there were supposed to be NO text books. Reality set in when laptops disappeared, were broken, IT problems, etc and older teachers wouldn’t stop using text books because it wasn’t in their contract. So, currently the technology is used on a limited basis and no students have laptops they take home … and they still have and use text books. Nice thought, but not really practical in a public school setting.

    • Dk Hipkins

      It really depends on buy-in by the teachers and what the expectation is for technology usage. We are in a one-to-one program and we find that it is exceptional overall. However, if the expectation is that the laptops will be used 100% of the time then that’s the entirely wrong expectation. They are tools for learning, not replacements for good instruction. They can and do seriously modify how teachers look at education and instructional delivery. There are public schools that do indeed do well with laptop programs, although not all public schools. This is not a one size fits all concept and to think that way is looking at it through the wrong lenses.

  • stop2think

    So will test scores improve in a year, or five or 10? Nope. It’s akin to changing from writing in white chalk to red chalk on a board. Style over substance once again.

    • Dk Hipkins

      No technology and no textbook will ever offset poor instruction. If the teacher is not a dedicated professional who knows how to motivate students to learn then the laptop will do no good. However, the Internet provides access to more information and more opportunities for constructive learning than any other medium in the history of mankind. Keep in mind that we are training kids today to do jobs that don’t even exist yet. If we are not preparing them with more than the same old skills we received they are going to be totally unprepared for the world ahead of them. I cannot imagine trying to go to college today without the skills to operate in a digital world. Some estimates say that by 2020 half of all college instruction will be virtual anyway, and that means that it will only increase between now and then.

  • Rollie Ciffo

    Schools should be using virtual desktop…a dumb PC monitor that gives the kids the rich desktop experience with all the apps on a central server controlled by the district. That way, they can better control internet access by limiting it to sites of the districts choosing….and ensuring the kids aren’t playing computer games because there is no PC to download on to. The kids should not be taking home district assets. Plus the hardware refresh is a lot cheaper. PCs are over $1000 and go obsolete in 2-3 years. The virtual desktops (sometimes called stateless thin clients) cost around $300 and can last at least twice as long…and more. What Pascack is doing is spending the funding before they lose it…and costing NJ lots of money…and making Gov Christie’s job a lot more difficult.

    • Rollie Ciffo

      By the way, I agree with Joel. But I am taking it one step further. A Virtual Desktop (aka stateless thin client) is different than what I think he is referring to, a desktop PC. Virtual Desktops are essentially 21st century versions of the dumb terminals hooked up to mainframe computers in the 1980’s. He is correct about desktops costing $150…if you get barebones and with a school district discount. The beauty of the virtual desktop is that its not bare bones. Its just that the computing power resides on the central computer and the network infrastructure. I think with school district discounts, the virtual desktop units can be in the $150 each range as well.

  • Joel

    You still don’t need laptops; there is no need to transport a computer around any more, desktop computers are available that any household can afford and if you say you can’t afford one get rid of the kid’s smart phone and problem solved, besides the fact that laptops are inferior to a comparable desktop. A desktop of the same specs is much cheaper than a Laptop, plus a desktop can be easily and cheaply upgraded. A computer if it is really needed should be 100% dedicated to the classroom (no cameras/email/games) and should only have intranet access and not internet access. Desktop computer for office/science functions are as cheap as $150 per unit opposed to a laptop which double the cost. Laptops are stolen on campus/off campus and then sold to faculty and their families for almost nothing when the laptop is deemed obsolete. It is just a feel good joke for the parents,teacher, school boards and tax dollar gift money to HP&Apple.

    • Dk Hipkins

      So for the sake of an anchored down machine that costs next to nothing you would deprive a student the ability to work productively anywhere he or she chooses? Do you seriously think that learning must cease when a kid leaves the classroom? I work in a one-to-one school and I see kids legitimately learning (yes, I do see what they do) all over campus. Do they chat on Facebook? Yes, occasionally. Are they being productive? Absolutely. I find that the work submitted to me is of higher quality and greater depth than anything submitted prior to our laptop program.

      It’s not about the money. It’s about how the resources get used. And for the record, we have yet to have a laptop stolen. Some get damaged and students are financially responsible for them. We have very few problems.

  • Dan

    Love it or hate it, it is the direction education is going. There will be fewer and fewer teachers. It will become an elite position. Kids aren’t learning content as much as they are learning how to do stuff. I agree that the communication skills are declining. Kids are dependent on a middle man for relationshhips whether its a laptop or their phone. Douglas Rushkoff has a documentary on this called Digital Nation. I highly recommend it

  • T Mobile

    Unfortunately not everyone in this country will be able to make a living sitting in front of a screen and a keyboard. Most of them will have to actually create or do something with their hands. Who is going to fix cars, repair air conditioners, build houses, dig ditches, drive bulldozers, fix downed power lines, arrest bad guys, fight fires, this is a stupid idea…
    Most very exclusive top notch private schools have NO COMPUTERS and still use textbooks and chalkboards. Computers are a 90% distraction to learning.

    • DC

      How does sitting in a desk all day looking at a textbook allow someone to learn how to fix cars, repair air conditioners, build houses, dig ditches, drive bulldozers, fix downed power lines, arrest bad guys, fight fires, etc….? The computer is just a new tool to get the same information across. Music used to be delivered by vinyl, 8 track, cassette, cds, etc…now it’s MP3s and ipods. The ability to have better sound and to “skip” to another track very quickly are some benefits in music. A textbook in “digital” form can also provide better benefits. The ability to enlarge text for people with visual problems, the ability to convert text to speech for people with hearing problems, the ability for perform “quick searches” instead of wasting time skimming and scanning for the information.

      Nothing beats “hands on” learning, but the above occupations require MUCH more than public schoolroom teaching. Those skills are obtained in vocational schools, mentoring, and on-the-job training, not basic public school education.

      Computers are not a distraction to learning, they are a TOOL for learning. The internet has more information than one textbook can hold. It is a virtual library. If kids are being distracted, then it’s because they are lacking in adult guidance and supervision.

      • T Mobile

        Ok, I will you give that. Agreed that the internet has a vast knowledge-base and if used properly is a fantastic tool for learning. HOWEVER, in front of a laptop, there is a HUGE TEMPTATION to “fart around”, especially when learning a difficult concept becomes very tough. I base this on my own personal habits. I also base it on my neighbor who has a daughter in middle school and told me she sends over 300 text messages a day to her classmates, while in school, and the teacher doesn’t care as long as the sound is turned off. I imagine 90% of students will be on Facebook, rather than browsing published papers in Harvard’s online library…

      • wasatchboy

        It is very very easy for a network administrator to hook all the computers up to the master computer (I.E. the teachers) The teacher at any time can take complete control of the computer and can monitor exactly what each student is doing. It is a BRILLIANT idea that I hope catches on everywhere.

      • T Mobile

        so the teacher’s are going to be spending their time monitoring to make sure the students are actually doing school work and not sending pictures of their private parts to other students??? And this is going to save so much time how??? And all these teachers are somehow going to become IT computer experts themselves??? 99% of the teachers I know chose elementary ed because it is the easiest major in college and most of them can barely spell themselves…
        STUPID IDEA. HUGE WASTE OF TAXPAYER MONEY. Laptops for $100??? Yeah that’s going to be a piece of trash that holds up well. Glad I don’t live in that district. I imagine their ACT scores are average for all the money they’re spending.

    • Dk Hipkins

      If you fix a car you must be able to use a computer today. If you work for the power company there’s a computer telling you where the grid is failing. Look in a police car sometime and you’ll see a computer with instant access to information on vehicles and people. For that matter, people who use a computer today need to create with them. Bloom’s Taxonomy (the new version) identifies creativity as the highest order of thinking. That creativity may begin on a computer. You would deprive a student because you think he or she is destined to dig ditches? I wonder what you do for a living to be so envious of another person’s opportunity.

    • cledl001

      Sorry to break it to you, but public education systems aren’t responsible (nor have they been) for teaching those kinds of curricula. Fixing cars and repairing air conditioners are things one learns through apprenticeships or in technical schools. Digging ditches and driving bulldozers don’t really require an education. Arresting bad guys requires basic writing and math proficiency (that’s all that’s required from most Police academy exams).

      It’s a stupid idea to suggest that all of that non-skilled labor requires extensive education inside the classroom. It’s also stupid to suggest that public schools would have the time or resources to teach such a diverse skill set.

      If used correctly, laptops and multimedia education systems are extremely useful and actually can drastically increase student test scores. They allow students to be much more immersed in the ‘concepts’ they’re learning instead of just reciting facts.

    • Nick

      You said it Mobile, Today’s America….. land of the free and the website//Photoshop experts and builders…

      ..using computers built for ten dollars in CHINA and the Philippines by 5 year olds who are still smarter than our 9th graders sold to dumb Americans for 1000 that are obsolete by the third quarter of the schoolyear….such a deal…

    • Fabio Escobar

      Consider the following example: a traditional Spanish class with a traditional lecture/note-taking system. Student goes to school, breaks out the textbook, listens to the teacher, does oral in-class exercises, goes home.

      Once home, student logs on to the online exercise bank. He does 30 exercises, all of which are graded by the computer itself. The teacher doesn’t have to waste time performing the same function 800 times for a class of 25-30 kids, and thus the teacher can assign more homework, thus resulting in better outcomes.

      Computers have their place.

      • abacab

        exactly – eliminate the teachers – as it is now 80% of what they teach comes prepackagesd off the web anyway – and that which doesn’t is full of spelling and grammar errors not to mention such accuracy statements like “closing a switch allows the electricity to flow…” good way to kill someone. Tteachers are getting stupider and the internet is picking up the slack – entire teaching plans come off the Internet – used ot be a teacher had to create a teachign plan and have it apporved and be spot monitored durign the year – unions took acre of that.

  • Alex

    This make complete sense. Ca you even imagine how much paper is not being used. Text books are very very expensiive nowwa days! This type of progress thinking is what will change the world all for the better.

    • Nathan

      Right…because laptops are cheaper than books. Wait…

      • wasatchboy

        They are if you think of the thousands upon thousands of books bought over the years. If you really care then attend!!

        Pascack Valley Regional High School District
        Monday, March 28, 2011 – 07:30 PM
        Regular Board Meeting/Budget Hearing

    • MDWhite

      Maybe you should learn basic grammar and spelling before you comment. You sound like a complete moron.

      Mayb two much tyme in front yer computer?

  • Rick

    It would be interesting to see their English composition work, hand written on paper. I’m sure the grammar, tense, and spelling of the prose will be perfect.

    … but I agree, a tremendous waste of money and infrastructure to support this environment.

  • brad

    Until there is a power outage, brown out or electromagnetic pulse burst.

    • Dk Hipkins

      Yeah, because nothing operates on batteries anymore. Gee. Wish my laptop had a battery so I could go anywhere with it. Wouldn’t matter anyway with all those random EMPs we keep getting.

      Gad, what an asinine comment you made.

  • mcmal1bu

    the dumbing of america starts in the classroom…

    • Steve-oh

      This school is so far ahead of the curve you think they are behind. This is brilliant. Not time to raise the school building and home school this way.

  • Robert Lew

    I would like to know what the home owners pay in school taxes to support this nonsense !

  • Max A Million

    And wondering why they have budget problems. What a waste of tax dollars.

    • ethancase

      They aren’t having budget problems. The Pascack Valley School District includes Hillsdale, River Vale, Woodcliff Lake, and Montvale, NJ. Those 4 towns rank among some of the wealthiest in the Nation. Bergen County, NJ is one of the wealthiest regions in the World, with Alpine, NJ being one of the wealthiest towns in America.

      Not coincidentally, bergen county also has one of the highest property taxes in the nation as well, and that is how this stuff is funded. While the school systems here do get very much needed money from the state government. The state’s contribution, compared to other districts, is quite low.

    • wasatchboy

      Another ignorant blogger: attend if you care to care
      Pascack Valley Regional High School District
      Monday, March 28, 2011 – 07:30 PM
      Regular Board Meeting/Budget Hearing

  • John Galt

    Hopefullly, technology will allow us to use fewer teachers which will address
    the fiscal problems in our school districts. The Best teachers can lecture over the internet and sick students can participate from home. I’m sure the teachers’ union realizes this and is formulating a plan to preserve their jobs…….for the children. of course.

  • James

    Sounds very stylish. But are the students learning anything about interpersonal communication skills and the like?

  • Lukuj

    Soon the kids won’t know how to interact with humans who aren’t on a screen at all.



  • Steve

    In two years, the laptops will be on ebay as the district tries to figure out why the kids were spending so much time on Facebook and games during class.

    • DC

      Schools don’t have to have total internet access. They could have a network that the students log in to where they can click on a link to the textbook they want to view and have links to resources such as newspapers, dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc. And if they have internet access at home, they could access the school network via password, etc. Kinda like how some libraries will let you log into their system and access certain publications. Teachers should be monitoring students to make sure they are doing their work and aren’t doing other things in class anyway.

    • Dk Hipkins

      You’re right. Content filters will never catch those things.

      Good teachers find ways to incorporate laptops into learning. If it’s not time for the laptop the teacher simply tells students to close them. Problem solved. Plus there is plenty of monitoring software for that very purpose.

      It’s obvious to me you haven’t a clue about what you speak.

1 2 3
blog comments powered by Disqus
Giving Tuesday
Charles Osgood Event

Listen Live