Should Michigan legislators spend money on iPods for every student or focus on paying off the looming budget deficit? That's the question many lawmakers are mulling over as the Legislature convenes over the state budget, reports mlive.com.
The $38 million plan to boost classroom technology -- including buying iPods for students has drawn the ire of some Republican lawmakers.
"It's insane," said state Rep. Kevin Green, a Republican. "I'm sure the kids would like iPods -- and GameBoys, too, while they're at it. I'm trying to stave off cuts in revenue sharing and come up with $20 million to $40 million for police and firefighters. It's frustrating to see what some of my colleagues are coming up with."
Defending the plan, State Rep. Tim Melton, a Democrat, said the technology plan focuses more on teacher training than putting an iPod in every backpack. But Melton, who chairs the House Education Policy Committee, said that the state needs to push the use of popular technology to keep up with colleges.
"If Rip Van Winkle woke up today, the only place he'd feel comfortable is a modern high school classroom, because they're still working with chalk and a blackboard," he said. "Meanwhile, you have colleges telling professors to put their lessons on podcasts on the Internet. How are our kids supposed to be prepared for that?"
Nevertheless, the state's budget woes are pushing out other expenditures. Even Wyoming Superintendent Jon Felske agreed that the fiscal crisis should be the only thing lawmakers should focus on.
Felske suggests legislators aren't clued into school funding priorities especially in light of a $34-per student cut in state aid.
"We have a $1 billion deficit problem to solve and they're talking about iPods?" he said. "This would be like if Ford decided to put its company restructuring plan on hold for a month so they could debate the color of the leather interior of a Mustang."