While I’m generally in favor of access to computers in school (ideally Macs), I recognize that it’s not just as simple as handing out a bunch of laptops to middle-schoolers and saying “Here you go, now learn something”; so it’s not surprising that a backlash to school laptops is being reported. Glenn Fleishmann, in particular, has been outspoken about this subject. (2007-08-28: Added references and corrected spelling of Glenn’s last name.)
I would have to place among the undesirable side-effects listed in the linked WSJ article (kids wasting their time chatting over IM or building MySpace pages) the following, cited by a parent who favors the program:
Anne Carson, a 49-year-old parent in Glen Allen, Va., says the laptop has helped her twelve-year-old son master critical professional skills like how to compile a PowerPoint presentation. “He’s really picking up on a lot of opportunities I don’t think he would have gotten without the laptop,” she says.
That’s not the sort of opportunity I’m hoping my kids will experience…