Tommie Williams: State considering iPads for students

Senate President pro tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, said this afternoon that legislators and state educators are considering an offer from Apple Computers to introduce iPads into middle school classrooms in Georgia, as a substitute for books.

A customer demonstrates Apple Inc.'s iPad tablet computer. George Frey/Bloomberg

A customer demonstrates Apple Inc.'s iPad tablet computer. George Frey/Bloomberg

Said Williams:

“Last week we met with Apple Computers, and they have a really promising program where they come in and their recommending to middle schools – for $500 per child per year, they will furnish every child with an iPad, wi-fi the system, provide all the books on the system, all the upgrades, all the teacher training – and the results they’re getting from these kids is phenomenal.”

The idea would be to use electronic tablets as a substitute for printed books. Said the Senate president pro tem:

We’re currently spending about $40 million a year on books. And they last about seven years. We have books that don’t even have 9/11. This is the way kids are learning, and we need to be willing to move in that direction.”

Williams said legislators are currently searching for money in the state’s beleagured education budget to fund pilot programs across the state.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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107 comments Add your comment


February 1st, 2011
2:20 pm

WOW….can I get one of those for $500 fully loaded too??? If it will save money on education without having to increase class sizes and cut programs, I say go for it. Just make sure there is some sort of insurance on them. Kid’s can be clumsy and even a little careless with technology being that they have grown up around it and it’s nothing to them.


February 1st, 2011
2:23 pm

And how much is the yearly maintenance for the program, once the first 10,000 are broken or stolen in the first month of use?

Just Wait

February 1st, 2011
2:30 pm

Yeah, Cobb County wanted to get laptops for all their students. Stupid idea then, stupid idea now!


February 1st, 2011
2:34 pm

I am a former 6th grade teacher who was tasked with using an ultra high tech setup. Not as good as an iPad, but this was 5 yrs ago. (It was a mobile laptop lab with SMARTboard and other tech.)

TRUST me – middle school students can’t handle the responsibility. You’ll be lucky to have half these things in workable condition before the first semester is out.



February 1st, 2011
2:35 pm

If you think this is a stupid idea, the US ARMY wants to give IPads to all of its troops. BOONDOGGLE!!!!!


February 1st, 2011
2:44 pm

Obviously the state senator knows NOTHING about middle school kids. They will be torn up, even if left at school, within days. He needs to understand, not only do accidents happen, but we have a large percentage of destructive kids, who will tear anything up just for spite! I watched a little girl take her Lions Club-paid glasses and scrub them on the sidewalk so she wouldn’t have to wear them! Their families will be viewing pornography, kids will take a hammer to their “textbook”, et al. He needs to talk to some educators. We already have kids wantonly tearing up the books, and they arent’ nearly as expensive as the Ipads.


February 1st, 2011
2:46 pm

And the money will come from…Santa? Teachers’ salaries?

Oh yeah, that rugged device, the iPad

February 1st, 2011
2:47 pm

The perfect thing to give a student, a glass textbook wrapped in a plastic shell that will be stolen the second they leave their car.

I predict that ten get broken in the first week, ten get stolen the second week, and a student gets robbed at gunpoint the third week.


I have two children who use these. For a middle schooler, they have a separate complex userid/password for each book (five subjects), so just keeping the passwords and IDs straight is an issue. The simple act of turning the page is SLOOOOOW, even on a 12MBS Internet connection.

Due to the greed of the publishers, you cannot download the book to the device….noooo, that might cost them some revenue. You can only view it with an active connection to the Internet.

I won’t mention that there is no index, the page numbers are different from the hardcopy book, and the page navigation and controls are all different… the student may use a math book from one publisher, and a language arts book from another; totally different. Not to mention that they seem to only work using Internet Explorer.

Giving a kid a laptop computer (or ipad) at homework time is like dangling donuts in front of somebody on a diet, you can bet they are going to do 100 other things on that device that have nothing to do with the online textbook.


February 1st, 2011
2:48 pm

This would not be the first time a vendor has gotten an inside track to selling to govts. That’s why too many govt employees have credit cards, cell phones and vehicles they do not need to do their jobs. If a student will not read a book, why would he/she read an iPad once the novelty wears off?


February 1st, 2011
3:01 pm

Ipads are not the answer and if they are given free to students with no accountability, you’ll see some of these for sale at flee markets or on e-bay.

Cost savings???

February 1st, 2011
3:02 pm

For the typical student there are five or six books, at a full-retail cost of around $50 each.

Let’s do the math: 6 x 50 = $300

Hmmmm… $500 is less than $300.

But wait, the schools buy a lot of books, so they pay more like $20 per book

So: 20 x 6 = $120

Hmmm…so, according the legislature, $500 is less than $120.

but wait, there’s more:

Schools use the books for many years, typically three or more years.

Thus the cost, per year, per student is more like: $40

Thus, $500 is less than $40… that new math!!

How many trained IT people does it take to support a bookshelf full of books? 0

How many trained IT people does it take to support 20,000 students using a fragile electronic device that can break, will need to have software updates, hardware upgrades, and a 99% uptime wireless network? hmmmm…..50?

50 x 45,000 per year plus benefits is approximately $3M annually.

But wait, there’s more:

Do you think the book publishers are going to give away the electronic versions of their books for FREE? (coffee spew)

So add the cost of licensing the online textbooks so the iPad users can get them:

(wild guess) $100 per student.

So the net “savings” is at least an ADDITIONAL $600 per student PLUS an additional maintenance cost of over $3M a year.

Oh wait, forgot about ongoing warranty costs, software support and upgrade costs from Apple, replacement of lost or stolen equipment, the cost of the network infrastructure…..


February 1st, 2011
3:03 pm

Dear Tommie Williams -

Please put the crack pipe down.

The Parents of Georgia


February 1st, 2011
3:04 pm

Why don’t they outlaw corporal punishment in schools? Georgia still paddles school children with wooden boards! Its an outrage and Maybe the GA legislature needs to fix that problem FIRST

There's an app for that

February 1st, 2011
3:07 pm

it’s called iPaddle


February 1st, 2011
3:11 pm

gamom: Again, as a former teacher: If you would discipline your kid, I wouldn’t have to. ;)

How to quash the enthusiasm

February 1st, 2011
3:16 pm

I’m sure gray-haired guys like ol Tommie have seen the iPad on TV, so they think it’s cool.

But don’t forget that the iPad can be used for PORN. The next version will have a camera, so you know what that means: LIVE PORN.

So, Mr. Galloway, the question to ask Mr. Williams ” Sir, is it true you are in favor of a device that will expose all of Georgia’s school children to pornography? Have you no decency, sir? “

[...] at least that’s what Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams (R-Lyon) would want to do.  According to Jim Galloway article, Sen. Williams said: “Last week we met with Apple Computers, and they have a really promising [...]

Bruce Kendall

February 1st, 2011
3:18 pm

Save the 500 bucks per student, and hidden costs.

It would be cheaper to write our own text books, and put them online. This is a growing trend at the college and university level.

We have the expertise already employed in the state. Use Wikipedia as an example, but open sourced for the experts working in our schools.

Joe Strictlypower

February 1st, 2011
3:26 pm

Worst idea ever. Honestly. Yo Tommie Williams I’m happy for you and Imma let you finish but public school kids are the most destructive force of all time. OF ALL TIME!

[...] Should Georgia classrooms abandon textbooks for iPads? [...]

Woah Bruce....

February 1st, 2011
3:28 pm

That’s some radical thought…depriving all those honest hard-working textbook makers from the billions in revenue they make from the US educational system?

You surely did not learn such radical ideas here in the fine educational system here in Jawga.

Bruce Kendall

February 1st, 2011
3:28 pm

I forgot to add this. The textbooks would be assessable through your computer, your IPod, and through your phone with internet access.

However, the state could use part of the 500 bucks per student to put Liberians back to work keeping libraries open with internet access.

And yes I know that this is not the perfect solution. But if you cannot be part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

This is another situation that will require several simple solutions to provide 100% access.

Bruce Kendall

February 1st, 2011
3:29 pm

IPad not IPod

Not perfect!!!!


February 1st, 2011
3:31 pm

The pilots better be in poverty stricken area’s in South Georgia. And the program better come with insurance so families aren’t strapped with burdensome financial repair issues that are bound to exist for middle school students using ipads. And I hope there are no camera’s on these things. Think recent lawsuit.


February 1st, 2011
3:36 pm

@John – stick to teaching. I do the disciplining and it doesn’t involve hitting. That’s abuse in my book, but Georgia allows this in many of its counties. Downright embarassing

blue dog

February 1st, 2011
3:39 pm

The first thing some of these kids will do is ’sell’ theirs…then they will begin stealing the other students ipads…and sell them. Oh well…. at least they will get a taste of what it’s like to run a business.
The bad kids will ruin it for the good kids…same as it ever was…

Bruce Kendall

February 1st, 2011
3:41 pm

@ Woah Bruce – Yes, by origin, I am a little further south than Jawga. As for the book sellers, I am reminded that when the Christian Missionaries visited us, they preached against the sin of greed. Then we introduced them to one of our traditions – Pot Luck!!

Last Man Standing

February 1st, 2011
3:53 pm


You are definitely part of the problem. Many of these kids receive no discipline at home and are unruly, disruptive and a hindrance in school classes.

It is far easier to allow a child to do as he/she pleases as they grown. It takes no effort on the part of parents to raise brats. It is much more difficult and time consuming to be a disciplinarian. No one likes a brat – and that includes the teachers attempting to educate the children assigned him/her.

No, gamom, the discipline applied at school is NOT too harsh – and it isn’t even applied nearly often enough. It’s probably too late for your young, though. They, unfortunately, will reap the results of your failure to discipline.

Before we introduce more technology to middle school classrooms

February 1st, 2011
3:53 pm

How about introducing more education to middle school classrooms?

Or perhaps more teachers to middle school classrooms?

Or maybe introducing more music programs to middle school classrooms, like the ones lost due to budget cuts?

Or how about we introduce more teacher training so special-needs students are not left behind?

I can think of at least a hundred things that should be ‘introduced’ into Georgia middle school classrooms, and a fragile and expensive toy is not on the list.


February 1st, 2011
4:01 pm

These yahoos are out of their frickin mind. Already have free cell phones for welfare and medicaid peeps and the phone companies are all excited, i imagine.. Lets get Apple excited next I reckon. Now grocery tax, this tax and that tax passed onto us is on the table. Can we vote over?This republican majority is beginning to make me gag.

Not to get in the middle of some argument on corporal punishment

February 1st, 2011
4:09 pm

You all are not having a fair argument, go to your room, both of you, now.

Just because a school official does not physically strike a child does not mean there is no discipline.

Many schools in Georgia have an armed officer on duty….he carries a gun, a taser, and pepper spray. Yet he is not allowed to hit somebody. Can he serve up discipline? Sure can.

The issue has little to with whether spanking or paddling is appropriate, or if it works or not.

The main issue that parents have is that in this day and age, is it really appropriate for a school professional to be the one striking their child? If you have a daughter, you’re OK with an adult man slapping the rear end of your child?

Barence Wainwright III

February 1st, 2011
4:13 pm

As a school system technology director I would like to weigh in on some of the comments posted here. Middle School (all grades really) students can be tough on equipment, no question. Several times I have witnessed students breaking computer or technology equipment in front of me. The issue is textbooks are a major expense in education. In addition, States like Georgia are left with little in the way of choice when it comes to textbooks – what Texas and California select is what’s available. Is there a way to do it better? Provide good and up-to-date textbooks at reasonable expense. I think we need to look at ebooks as a solution. Kindle and Nook type devices are excellent reading devices that are not much more expensive than some textbooks. They have good battery life, not very usable for internet access – a plus in this case – and significantly less expensive than the iPad both in initial cost and on-going support. In an earlier post: Bruce Kendall brought up an excellent idea that text book publishers really do not want to see the light of day. In a nutshell – with ebooks it is possible to create your own textbooks. There is some potential here we should look at. Already some school systems are preempting this and going forward with ebook readers now. One wonders if Apple is trying to head that option off at the pass. Cost and replacement are an issue that has to be dealt with. Peach County recently ended up in the news when they struggled to find a way to compensate the school system for lost or damaged laptops on a one for one technology initiative. Some parents were upset that they would be held accountable for damaged or lost equipment. I don’t have an answer but I think it would be wise for Georgia to explore eReaders as an option. It’s an idea that should be discussed by all of the stake holders.

Well, as an IT person, you can understand

February 1st, 2011
4:30 pm

That if the very first meeting of any initiative is a dog-and-pony show by a vendor with the highest person in the food-chain, then go put on a life jacket, cause you’re in for a bumpy ride.

As a parent, my kids already have laptops, they don’t need a fragile $500 school-supplied toy. I buy my kids their shoes, their backpacks, and their binders. If the school requirement was a simple $200 netbook for their books, that’s no problem…it will last for a couple of years and they can use it at home as their primary computer….no big deal.

If the goal is to put the books online, then go for it.

Right now, if I want to use the Math textbook used in sixth grade on any sort of reader, would that be possible? No.

Can I even download a PDF of that book, so if the kids have the laptop in the car they can study? No. It’s only available online.

The big ‘elephant in the middle of the room’ is the textbook publishers. If Georgia schools have to pay $200 per child for the ability to access textbooks electronically, then there is little money saved in putting in on a eBook versus paper.


February 1st, 2011
4:31 pm

Could these be used for pornography?????????????

To Hollis

February 1st, 2011
4:33 pm

No, there is no porn on the Internet, that’s just a rumor.

Even worse than porn

February 1st, 2011
4:35 pm

Is the legal case where the school admins in Pennsylvania enabled and viewed the webcams of school-issued laptops. At home, in the student’s bedrooms. They denied it at first, until the FBI got involved.


February 1st, 2011
4:41 pm

Schools should have no authority or right to strike a child in the state of Georgia. 30 states have outlawed this barbaric practice. Why Georgia holds to this (from the slave days, mind you) is beyond me. Take note of the Alaskan mom who just got charged with child cruelty for hot saucing her child and putting the child in a cold shower for punishment. For all you people who believe that hitting a child (yes they do that in GEORGIA and only 19 other states), is o.k. – it simply is not. It is abusive and wrong on many levels. Discipline should not involve hitting. Kids who are struck often become more aggressive and develop PTSD… the research is there — learn something and google it!

ya gotta be kidding

February 1st, 2011
4:45 pm

How long would it take for those Ipads to be fenced, stolen, or destroyed?

Of course these can be used for porn

February 1st, 2011
4:49 pm

While there are likely to be all sorts of ways to make it very difficult to prevent students from wallowing in porn on these devices, it’s impossible to stop.

Even if they are locked down tighter than a drum, so the students cannot goto porn sites, there is this thing called ‘email’.

Email can have attachments, which can be porn. A more clever student will use encryption software, so the porn can pass undetected through school email servers, only to be unencrypted by the other student. Thus the porn arrives.

And then you get into the big argument about content: what is porn, what is considered ‘racy’, what is considered to be inappropriate (shocking or gross).

Most newer devices will have cameras and GPS devices, which opens up a whole raft of issues, everything from some pervy school admin peering at student photos or knowing where they are, or being able to observe vehicle speed or capture private text messages.

Never argue your core beliefs in a blog

February 1st, 2011
4:55 pm

GAMOM, you’re more likely to teach your cat to speak Russian than you are to convince some tough guy that spanking is wrong. Give it up.

No matter how loudly you speak English to a French-speaking person, they will not understand you. Trust me, I have tried it. Save your breath.

As computers get more common, have students buy their own

February 1st, 2011
5:06 pm

A typical low-cost netbook computer costs around $200 these days and would last a child for at least a couple of years. The cheapest netbook on the market costs less than $100.

The school can provide a computer for those parents who cannot afford a $100 computer.

While $500 per student does not sound like a lot, there are HUGE support costs that go with these devices. Most likely you would need one or two tech support people per school, plus ongoing repairs, upgrades, lost/stolen/broken equipment, etc.


February 1st, 2011
5:34 pm

When I went to school in the 70’s we never got to the end of the history books; we only got to WW2. However, I did live in DC where history happened every day.


February 1st, 2011
5:36 pm

My German shepherds and chihuahuas never understood me because I did not know German or Spanish.


February 1st, 2011
5:43 pm

Quit this idea, and work on something you know something about.
Besides, Apple is not the only fish in the sea, or did they dazzle you with bits and bytes? Don’t know what those are? Just think pictures.

Fat American

February 1st, 2011
6:18 pm

If they would be willing to partner with Apple at the tune of $500 per child, they should be willing to look at other options.

They can keep the idea of discarding out-dated textbooks with new technology that could update yearly, but on a smaller scale.
My idea– look to Amazon’s Kindle or Barnes & Noble’s Nook. If they go for the earlier version of the Nook, which retails for a little over $100 (and I’m sure a deal could be worked out to lower the price), internet and other appeals of the iPad (like games) are more limited.

Regardless, they’d still get broken, stolen, or sold, but we would be learning a lesser-valued lesson than with the iPad.

Chuck Allison

February 1st, 2011
6:52 pm

It is amazing how much confusion and controversey there is now that people no longer hold the tenets of the Bible to be totally true. No one seems to remember the scripture telling us that “to spare the rod is to spoil the child”. Folks think we have progressed beyond the Bible. And our children are suffering for lack of discipline. Of course, we don’t have the quality of teachers that we had back when corporal punishment was the rule.


February 1st, 2011
7:48 pm

After reading the comments here it seems like everone thinks that ipads in the classroom is a bad idea.. But what about the old textbooks ? Are they really over ten years old. Why can’t we “think different” and give our students and teachers new tools to use to perhaps spark a revolution in education ? Apple has shook up a lot of stuff and education may be next paradiigm change..


February 1st, 2011
7:50 pm

Keep both eyes on this one!

Apple offered a lot of under the table “bribes” to Cobb County to buy their computers.

Why should it be different this time…..

Watch out Tommie Williams….we are watching you and your cronies.

John G

February 1st, 2011
8:17 pm

Before such an expenditure, I’m hopeful that research is done to examine the open source content that is free and already available on sites such as “Open Library,” MIT, iTunes University, etc. Content access is no longer the issue it once was in the past. Please do your “homework” prior to making wasteful expenditures of taxpayer dollars.


February 1st, 2011
8:46 pm

This is funny–I don’t need to read the comics anymore–I have the Georgia General Assembly. If it does pass it will be like everything else–go full force then withhold the funding and change the rules.