I mean, Dell's fine, but seriously, it's not like they're going to dealcatcher to find the PCs for cheap. They get them cheaper than "official" retail price, at a bulk order price.
And then with a new set of computers, elementary schools don't know what to do next. Word process and web browse...
Think about it: How many books do schools have—and how well are children doing at reading? How many pencils do schools have—and how well are kids doing at math? It's like missing the difference between music and instruments. You can put a piano in every classroom, but that won't give you a developed music culture, because the music culture is embodied in people.
On the other hand, if you have a musician who is a teacher, then you don't need musical instruments, because the kids can sing and dance. But if you don't have a teacher who is a carrier of music, then all efforts to do music in the classroom will fail—because existing teachers who are not musicians will decide to teach the C Major scale and see what the bell curve is on that.
The important thing here is that the music is not in the piano. And knowledge and edification is not in the computer. The computer is simply an instrument whose music is ideas.
(submitted here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=448722)
I used to know a guy who did IT work, and he explained why his place always bought Dells. If he ordered 100 Dell Foo2000 boxen, he knew they would all have the same video card, same motherboard, same hardware top to bottom.
This meant one could roll out new software or upgrades and not be stymied when this machine behaved differently from that because of weird subtle driver issues on different hardware.
I don't know if this is still true (or really if it was ever true) but it seemed a good way to reduce overall maintenance issues.
There's a reason Dell has different product lines for consumers and businesses, and that businesses buy the latter despite the higher price. To sell consumer PCs so cheaply, Dell has to use the cheapest hardware available at the time of manufacture. (Also, they have to agree to install various crapware from EarthLink and AOL and Real Networks, but that's another story.) This means that the hardware used in the consumer products changes frequently, and that it's not necessarily the highest quality or of the best-known brand. The business lines, like OptiPlex, have longer lifecycles and use more reputable, name-brand components.
For a consumer, price is the most important factor, so the home product is fine. But in an enterprise, those savings would be quickly wiped out by administrative overhead and perhaps worse reliability. A decent IT department tests new software on every hardware/OS configuration on which it will be used prior to deployment, and they'll have a standardized desktop build process based on a cloning product (e.g. Ghost), Remote Installation Service, or something similar. Good luck doing those things if you have 287 different hardware configurations in your environment, or if your computers have some off-brand NIC that doesn't support PXE booting, etc.
At least Internet access has potential answers to that question, even if schools are structurally unsuited to following through on them. But even with my HN-style bias, I'd rather spend money on VCRs and the remainder on sporting equipment than laserdisc players.
I was pretty young then, but I don't know that there was ever a time when laserdiscs and VCRs were even remotely cost competitive. Laserdiscs were basically ahead of their time and such technologies generally come with a huge price premium. But I could be wrong.
It is also a political opinion statement, with the implicit assumptions that recovery is needed from something, and that the government should do it.
Why can't the BLS or Treasury or anything else host a website to explain this stuff? Or why not go one step further and create a US Economics website to teach people economics and track and explain current US statistics?
And don't even get me started on the new whitehouse.gov.
(not that my html & css skillz are so hot either, but...)
http://www.wallstats.com/deathandtaxes/ is a good place to start for the US Federal budget, but that's just the major branches I don't know of a good breakdown for say the number of LCD's the government buys. The picture on the bottom right is a good summary.
Why don't they get Community Wizard back?