A 100-laptop trial is underway in one school in the western part of the state.
On Feb. 13, 2008, Rep. Cynthia Soto of the Illinois House proposed HB5000, the Children's Low-Cost Laptop Act (local link : OLPC_Chicago/IL_Children's_Low_Cost_Laptop_Fund). On April 8, 2008, it passed on its third reading, with amendments, and goes next to the Illinois Senate.
HB5000: the Children's Low-Cost Laptop Act
Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn proposed the measure. Sponsors are
- Cynthia Soto
- Constance A. Howard
- LaShawn K. Ford
- Ruth Munson
- Jack D. Franks
- Patrick J Verschoore
- Karen A. Yarbrough
- Elizabeth Hernandez
- Esther Golar
HB5000 provides for laptops, training, and infrastructure, for a 2 year pilot program in up to 300 schools. Schools or school districts will be able to apply for grants to buy their choice of under-$400 laptops, including the XO, the Asus Eee, and the Intel Classmate. It is proposed that the differences between schools with and without laptops be studied, and also the differences between schools using different hardware and software. In short, a bake-off. Nicholas Negroponte detests them, but the world does not work as we might wish.
The bill does not specify criteria to use in selecting laptops, nor does it specify what kind of training teachers should receive. OLPC Chicago is taking the lead on advising the Administration, the Legislature, the State Board of Education, and others about what the laptops can do and what support is required for them to do it. We will also ask the OLPC community at large to help in planning this deployment, and in designing and creating some specific software, textbooks, and content that we and the schools in Illinois will discuss.
Others who would like to bring XO laptops to their own state or local school system are welcome to join the OLPC Chicago mailing list to see how it is done, and to learn from our successes and our mistakes.