Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have an iPod. I use it every day. It offers me a much greater choice of music and downloaded radio shows (aka podcasts) to listen to than in the old days when I lugged around a CD player and a couple of disks. Do I think every schoolchild in Michigan should have one? I do not.
Actually, I don't care whether kids have iPods. I just think it's a dumb idea for the state to buy them music players.
I hadn't heard about this proposal until I saw this story. The reporter properly focuses on the fact that the legislators sponsoring the proposal had a trip to California that was partially paid for by Apple. Whoops.
The story also touches on the fact that the proposal to buy all Michigan students an iPod would cost the state $36 million. Remember, this is the state with the worst deficit going right now, due to its "one-state recession." Probably not the smartest priority.
But what good is it to hand out iPods anyway? The argument is that kids could listen to lectures, etc. I would argue that there is no educational material usable on an iPod -- whether audio, video, or otherwise -- that couldn't be stored and played on a computer.
Kids get distracted enough by extraneous materials when they have access to computers. Can you imagine the possibility that some of them, armed with iPods, might listen to, say, Sanjaya Malakar when they ostensibly are listening to lectures? It's hard to imagine, I know.
Sorry to get all Cranky Old Man. I recognize the value of getting kids up to speed with digital media and the whole "convergence culture." But providing them with brand-specific toys rather than teaching them how to concentrate strikes me as a bad idea, even if Apple were giving away iPods rather than trips to legislators.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.