The Mac vs. PC battle rages on. In Carteret County, NC, the school system is planning to transition from Macs to Wintel systems. But if they do, it won’t be without a fight. A citizens group, led by John Droz Jr. — spokesman for the group and Mac consultant, addressed the Carteret County Board of Education, saying such a move would hurt students, teachers, and taxpayers.
Droz told the board that studies indicate that students are more creative and productive when using Mac equipment, according to a story in the Jacksonville Daily News newspaper. And he said that when this change gets consummated, the school budget will increase by approximately US$1 million a year.
Factoring in a number of variables, including the initial purchase cost, setup and software, training costs, ongoing maintenance and the life of the computers, Droz estimated it will cost the schools $400 more per year per computer for PCs, according to the Jacksonville Daily News. The newspaper said that Droz’s claims are backed by a number of studies found by the group, including one by International Data Corporation. IDC found that, when looking at the total cost of ownership, schools surveyed in the study gave Mac a higher rating than PCs for overall effectiveness.
“The study looked beyond initial purchase costs for computers, and noted the savings of the Macintosh, which doesn’t have to be replaced as often, is used longer before an upgrade is needed, requires less technical support, and provides for easy and quick training,” the newspaper reported.
There were others besides Droz who asked the board of education to reconsider. Bob Stone of Cape Carteret said the estimated $1 million additional cost is money that could be better spent elsewhere; for example, for more teachers. Larry LaBrie of Pine Knoll Shores said although the county board doesn’t have line-item control over the school system budget, it does have approval over the county’s overall spending. And he hopes the board will halt what they consider unnecessary spending, according to the Jacksonville Daily News.
The newspaper reported that Droz asked that the county reactivate its Citizens Technical Advisory Committee, a group which was formed after the $29 million school bond referendum was passed in 1994. The bond provided funds to modernize the school system’s technology program. And it was recommended at that time that the school system standardize on Macintosh computers, which are now in use.
Droz and the citizen group have a
Mac vs. PC Web site
that’s definitely worth checking out. Meanwhile, another local newspaper, the
Carteret News Times
ran a story — which, alas, no longer seems to be online — about the Macs vs. PCs issue. Droz told MacCentral that the story had “several inaccuracies” so he sent them the following letter (reprinted with his permission):
In regards to your "Mac vs PC" article on Friday, I would like to clear up several misunderstandings.
1) I have been privileged to have been asked to be the spokesperson for a group of citizens on this issue. These people are NOT all Mac users, and there is NO ASSOCIATION with the NC Crystal Coast Mac User Group. (Actually all of the people who spoke on this issue to the commissioners) were 'successful businessmen' -- so that categorization would be more appropriate.)
The fact is the only commonality the people in this group have is that they are NC Carteret County property owners and taxpayers who have an interest in our school system.
2) Despite the school district's insistence that the Dells are cheaper:
a) The school (in their plan to make the Macs not acceptable) arbitrarily included specifications for obsolete features. For instance, arbitrarily requiring that your next car absolutely must have an eight-track player (floppy drive/ serial port) would obviously exclude several good cars from being considered.
b) Getting a recent quote directly from Dell and Apple resulted in the Macs being some $600 less expensive (when similarly configured).
c) For over two months the school board has been asked to get the specifics of the costs and specifications involved here, with no response. Let's see the district's official data!
d) Much more important than the initial cost is the Total Cost of Operation (TCO). This takes into account such items as: initial hardware cost; annual maintenance cost; usable lifetime of the computer; software costs (license, support, upgrades); networking costs (hardware, software, licenses, maintenance, etc.); operating costs (e.g. electricity); teacher training costs; teacher preferences, satisfaction and efficiency; and the ability to provide student with an enjoyable and productive learning environment.
e) The approximately $400 per year per computer extra cost that will result from every Mac that is replaced by a PC is NOT my figure, and does NOT come from my own experience. Rather this amount is an AVERAGE figure of numerous detailed TCO studies of this issue by other businesses and school districts who have accurately performed this detailed calculation
Similarly, for over two months the school board has been asked to provide the specifics of the Carteret School District's TCO calculation, again with no response. If they don't like the conclusion other schools have come to, then set's see their supportable official TCO calculations!
3) Apple (and their Macintosh computers) has NOT been "moving away from the education market." The truth is exactly the opposite. (For example, Apple announced on Tuesday an exceptional program called The Apple Teacher Institutes.These institutes will allow K-12 teacher participants to learn, from other teachers, how to maximize technology in a classroom. The cost is FREE. No PC box assembler offers any comparable program.)
4) As far as how many other people use PCs or Macs, it is surprising that educators should be teaching us that a good decision strategy is 'to do what other people do.' What do they say to kids who give that argument for using drugs? And do you buy a car solely based on what other people buy? If so, all of us would be driving Ford Escorts, etc.
Our school district should be only concerned about getting the most cost-effective quality computer available -- despite what anyone else does. Essentially ALL studies done on this issue conclude that the answer is to buy Macs.
We should learn from the many other people who have been this way before. Almost all of them are saying that this is a costly mistake.
Droz said that if MacCentral readers wish to do something about the “Wintel invasion,” they should send an e-mail supporting Macs as a
letter to the editor
to the Carteret News Times. Make sure to emphasize the cost benefit (a local hot button issue) of standardizing on Macs, he added. Droz also encourages Mac users to check out the online