As we reported on Friday,
there’s a “Mac vs. PC” debate raging in the Carteret County (NC) school system — and the Mac is losing. Last night a citizens group in favor of keeping Macs addressed the county school board.
The Carteret County school system plans to replace aging Macs with Dell PCs. Currently, the school system has 2,371 Macs and 1,147 Wintel systems. A
pro-Mac group has developed a Web site that displays studies supporting the belief that the Mac is better than PCs in the classroom. The group also had five minutes to present their case to the school board yesterday. Their statement read, in part: The District’s quote specifications for replacement computers sent out over the last two years, totally excluded bids from Apple. This happened because the District required one and two items that the iMac didn’t have — and which now have been proven to have been unnecessary and superfluous all along. The iMac is less expensive than the Dells being bought by the District. Additionally, the iMac has always been less expensive than the Dells to operate, by at least $300 per year. Standardizing on Macs (instead of Dells) would result in a taxpayer savings of over one million dollars — per year! The Technical Staff has demonstrated little interest in maintaining and upgrading the District’s current Macs. Considering our huge investment here, this is not good. There is work to be done by all parties to make sure that the equipment, teachers and students get the best support that is possible. The district would be far better off having more Apple servers. It appears that the Board has given way too much weight to the “inputs” from the District’s Technology Committee. From speaking to several current and former members of this committee, it is their assertions that: a) despite whatever the original intentions were, in reality this internal committee (note: there are no “businessmen” on this committee) primarily exists as a vehicle for the technology staff to dictate what they want individual schools to do, and b) because differing viewpoints were clearly not welcome, many members often didn’t bother to attend committee meetings (for instance, at the extraordinarily critical computer standardization meeting, only six of fourteen schools were represented!), and c) this committee does no independent research, (if such research was done before this decision, then let’s see it!), and d) this committee never voted to change the District’s standardization from Macs to Windows/PCs. One of the clear implications of Mr. Poletti’s talk is that the District is abandoning Apple to follow what “most everyone else is doing.” Yet he fails to mention that essentially ZERO North Carolina schools require internal floppy drives, and very few are using Novel networks — both of these are decisions by the District’s technology staff that have caused many substantial problems. Similarly, if you took at face value what Mr. Poletti stated in his talk, you would likely conclude that most schools are moving from Macs to PCs. NOT SO. The
most current national market data compiled by QED, a leading research company, says otherwise. Their July 2001 report not only shows that Apple is number one in existing installed education computers, AND in current education sales, AND in planned-to-buy education computers, BUT by a rather LARGE margin! Dr. Lenker and Chairman Newby agreed to make-happen in two weeks: 1) A visit by IBM engineer Victor Marks to independently assess the District’s computer situation, and 2) A subsequent executive level meeting with Apple Management, where Apple will be given a fair chance to answer any remaining questions, and to quote iMacs for the District’s usage.
John Droz, who prepared the pro-Mac Web site, told MacCentral that no one on the school board disputed any of the aforementioned points. Meanwhile, an opinion piece by Tom O’Neal, editor of
The News Times , says that there really isn’t “much of a debate.” The PC is the computer of choice in most businesses and the PC holds more than 90 percent of the computer market share while the Mac is struggling to hold onto a “slim 5 percent,” he writes.
Though he has owned Macs in the past, O’Neal writes that today, “in many computer stores, you have to look real hard just to find a Mac.” He adds that the Mac is an excellent computer for graphic design, but in all other areas, the PC is the computer of choice.
“You’ll also find a lot of people who say that PCs are cheaper and do a lot more than Macs,” O’Neal writes. “PCs work better with the Internet, they’ll say. A PC has 10 times the software a Mac can boast. Here’s the point: Students are being prepared to enter a world where most computer functions are done on PCs. Why train them on computers they probably won’t be using once they graduate from high school? That would be like offering car repair using cars that no one drives any more.”
The recent developments are not the start of the Macs vs. PC issue in Carteret County. It began early this spring, as we
reported in an April 30 article.