MacBook requirement at Milken
Michael Kessler - Wednesday, February 23, 2011
This year, all seventh graders were required to own a MacBook to bring with them to school. Next year, seventh and ninth graders will be added to this requirement (in addition to eighth graders), and this process will continue until 2014, when all students will own MacBooks. If a student does not already own a MacBook, he or she will be required to purchase one.
These are the facts of the situation and, quite simply, they are absolutely absurd. The primary reason Milken is implementing this requirement is because the school believes that there are certain advantages and programs only MacBooks have access to. I would challenge that any program on a MacBook can either be outright installed on a Windows computer or at the very least a suitable replacement can be found. Furthermore, any functionality advantages MacBooks have are either irrelevant or made-up. There is simply no feasible reason for Milken to feel the need to place such a requirement on its students when the benefits are nearly nonexistent.
There are two more important elements at play with a requirement like this: price and freedom of choice. The price of a MacBook is well documented for its expensive price tag, and it is clear that the student or the student’s family will be responsible for paying for a new MacBook. To expect families to come up with well over $1,000 on their own for an unnecessary purchase is unfair and stretches the limits of what a school can require of its students. MacBooks are expensive and many families have made the decision that they are too expensive to buy. How are these families going to reconcile their decision to buy a non-MacBook computer with their school requiring the exact opposite?
The second and arguably more important issue deals with Milken dictating the type of computer every student owns. Laptops in the 21st century, especially with today’s generation, are crucial to our way of life. They stretch beyond our educational needs and play a vital role in our social and private lives. As a high school, Milken should be responsible for ensuring that its students have what is necessary to foster a healthy learning environment and nothing else. Forcing students to buy a particular kind of laptop infringes on our personal freedoms and inhibits many other aspects of our lives. At the same time, it does little to promote an essential learning environment.
Ultimately, when I first heard about this new requirement, I could think of only one question: how can Milken, a school that supposedly promotes a highly pluralistic learning environment, become so authoritative and single-minded with regards to an important aspect of every student’s life? I have yet to find a suitable answer to this question, and it disappoints me immensely to witness Milken, a school that has prided itself on embracing technology, take such a huge step back.
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