Edgecombe high-school students get technological boost

Posted January 30, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

— Edgecombe school leaders say laptops for every high school student in the rural county will help prepare them to better compete in the 21st century global market.

Last week, the school began issuing laptops to its 2,100 ninth-, 10-, 11th- and 12th-grade students under a new initiative, 1:1 Laptop, which allows them and teachers to better utilize more technology for learning.

Edgecombe laptops Edgecombe launches new student laptop initiative

Approximately 400 teachers received laptops in August and spent the fall semester training how to best use them in the classroom.

"We have to make sure that our students are prepared to go into the work force, prepared to go into colleges and universities," Edgecombe County Public Schools Superintendent Craig Weatherspoon said Friday at the school system's program launch.

Due to lower demand for tobacco and the loss of manufacturing jobs, Edgecombe is one of the most economically depressed counties in North Carolina. December unemployment figures released Friday put Edgecombe unemployment rate at 13.8 percent, the highest in the state.

"It's our goal that every child in rural North Carolina be given the same opportunity students have in Chapel Hill or Charlotte or Raleigh," said Dan Gerlach, president of Golden LEAF, which funds economic development projects in tobacco-dependent areas.

A $1.9 million grant from Golden LEAF, as well as a grant and donations from SAS Institute, helped pay for the program.

The school board paid an additional $900,000 from its current budget and revenue allocated to the school system from the North Carolina Education Lottery.

"When you say we can't afford to do this, I would counter we can't afford not to do it," Witherspoon said.

Under the program, each student must pay a $50 annual technology fee and register for a laptop with a parent or guardian. Both student and parent attend a required training course on proper and appropriate use, and the school holds students accountable for all computer behavior.

Filters will be put in place to monitor students' use of the Internet on and off-campus.

"It is monitored, and it is corrected," Witherspoon said.

If a laptop is lost, stolen or damaged, students can be charged anywhere from $150 to the full cost of the laptop to replace it, according to the school system's Web site.

The school system is also trying to establish Internet hotspots throughout the county for students who don't have Internet access at home. Some online homework assignments can be downloaded and taken home.

The school system will collect the laptops at the end of the school year and update them over the summer.


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  • linzie0406 Jan 30, 2009

    You people are ridiculous. Seriously. I live in Edgecombe County and have my entire life. I graduated from high school there. No, we did not get laptops, but it sure would have helped if we had them. I have family that are currently high school students and have received the laptops. All of the "extra" things that could not be used for strictly school purposes have been blocked. They are also required to pay a fee per semester for use of the laptops. These laptops did not come from taxpayers money. So what if your county did not get one? Take that up with your counties school system. Do you seriously not have anything better to do with your time than to bash our school system for trying to give our students better learning opportunities? Not every student is fortunate enough to have a computer at home to use or a vehicle to get them to a public library. Geez, get a life.

  • starglow2005 Jan 30, 2009

    Some of you have no clue about technology and are living in the past. The American education system is falling way behind compared to students at the same grade level in some foreign countries.

    Most jobs today require knowledge of basic computer skills. The Internet also allows students access to research information and the ability to write and create projects at their fingertips.... something I had to do using library books and a typewriter. Computers also allow students to expand their knowledge base and learn other skills such as building web pages, computer programming, and other valuable skills that will help boost innovation and develop creative ideas and prepare them to better compete in an increasingly competitive marketplace for higher college education and future employment opportunities.

    Don't always focus on the negative... look at the positive side once in a while and weigh the difference.

  • The Fox Jan 30, 2009

    I'm more surprised that there are only 2,100 high school students out of a county of 54,000 people.

  • wlfpack82 Jan 30, 2009

    I'm a former graduate of the Edgecombe County Schools. I think that this is GREAT for this community. To all you who are bashing this idea there are a couple of things to think of. 1. It's not taxpayer money paying for these laptops so chill out. 2. Don't complain about what you didn't have in school. It's not these student's fault you didn't have access to them. I say if they gives just one student the desire to succeed and learn then it is money well spent. 3. As an educator I HATE it when people talk about the bad economy and imply that education should be the first place cuts are made. If you can think of a better way to spend money than preparing students for their future please let me know. I'm well aware that not all students are motivated to learn but let's not deprive the ones that are because of the lack of insight of their classmates.

  • anonemoose Jan 30, 2009

    I hope that they all have LOJAK also. Stolen laptop reports will go through the roof. Too bad all the cops can't have laptops in their patrol cars.

  • thewayitis Jan 30, 2009

    Not a responsible use of taxpayer money. Everybody can already use a computer for free at the public library. And why are the kids of Edgecombe county more worthy than poor kids anywhere else? It just boggles my mind. You can live without a laptop. Really, you can.

  • vaulter Jan 30, 2009

    This is absolutely ridiculous. How many of us are doing just fine or great with our careers that did not have a laptop to use in high school. That's how a couple hundred thousand dollars (at least) that could be used so much better elsewhere. Especially in economy...

  • daMoFo Jan 30, 2009

    More feel good nonsense. The kids that are willing to work hard will learn and the ones that will not work will not learn. Giving them a laptop will not change that.

  • whatelseisnew Jan 30, 2009

    drjones74 - I work and I can assure you that what I speak of is coming. Just stop and think for a few minutes about how many jobs have already been replaced by technology. That is a trend that is not only going to continue, it will accelerate. It amazes me that people look at what is and think it will continue for a long time. When it comes to technology, those days are gone. It will not be long when the way people interact with technology will change dramatically. Stop thinking about what is; and consider this. You use a computer to accomplish a task. However, it never occurs to you that you just used a computer. That is where technology is going. I can tell you that a lot of Software Engineer jobs have been replaced by technology. This phenom is still in its infancy, but it is coming along. Many many more jobs will be eliminated by technology.

  • validpoint Jan 30, 2009

    Isn't this OLD NEWS? I could have sworn WRAL just posted this the other day.