Monday, October 13, 2003

Stillwater: Controversial School Lap-Top Loan Program

Angry missives from outraged citizens denouncing the School Board for implementing its wacko laptop loan program have dominated the Gazette’s Opinion Page lately. The sheer volume of letters received and printed has even (on some occasions) crowded my column right out of this newspaper. I resent this, as it entails an interruption in the flow of the wheelbarrows full of cash and precious stones that I receive each week as remuneration for each piece I publish in these pages.

Since most of the objections about the laptop loan program have been submitted in the form of ‘tough questions that the School Board ought to answer’, I have followed suit and come up with some questions of my own. I respectfully submit them to the School Board for their consideration:

1) What are you S.O.B.s on the School Board going to do if a laptop explodes and bursts into flames, and some kid loses his face and needs millions of dollars worth of reconstructive plastic surgery? Who’s going to pay for that, School Board?

2) What if these punk skateboarding kids you see around town mount wheels on their laptops, and start riding them around and doing all kinds of dangerous stunts on them? Double-reverses, loop-de-loops, stuff like that. When they land with a crash on the pavement, they will probably damage the delicate circuit boards in the laptop--and a kid could break his neck or something on one of those things, how about that, School Board?

3) I recently saw a film in which a scientist was exposed to radiation and ended up turning into a huge, dangerous green monster every time he got angry. What if these laptops we’re getting have been accidentally exposed to radiation? It isn’t hard to imagine the havoc that a mutant laptop might wreak on school grounds if it suddenly swelled to ten times its normal size and turned green, flinging kids around like they were so many toy dolls. What will the School Board do then?

4) What if there is some person living here in town that, unbeknownst to the rest of us, is driven into a homicidal rage by the mere thought of a laptop? It’s not hard to imagine some lonely, anti-social type, taunted when he was a kid at summer camp because he had no laptop, growing to loathe the sight of a laptop as a reminder of his humiliation, sharpening an old lawnmower blade in his garage, brooding, day after day, month after month—and then he reads in the Gazette that the School Board is going to go around giving out laptops! To all kids! But not to him, oh no, he’s too old now, he won’t get one. Everybody else can have one, but not him—all he’s got is his rusty old lawnmower blade—but he’s sharpening it, honing it to a finer edge, each day, every day it gets sharper, sharper… And he hears the voices, the voices in his head, mocking him… The laptop loan program could send this guy over the edge, turn him into a deranged serial killer in a hockey mask, with our kids at the top of his target list. Has the School Board even considered this possibility?

5) What if aliens from another world land in Stillwater, and they just happen look exactly like laptops? I mean they are another life form, non-human, from an alien civilization far more advanced than our own--but to all outward appearances they look like laptops.

They land their spacecraft in Stillwater, and immediately seek out some of our leaders to establish some intergalactic treaty of peace and friendship, so they go into a school, that’s a good place to ask for directions, and what do they see? A bunch of kids, apparently ‘fondling’ their people! The aliens will be outraged, and who can blame them? What will the School Board do when they turn their death rays on us, in a misbegotten attempt to ‘free their people’? Well, School Board? How about that one?

Well, you can just forget about me voting another red cent for the school levy, if that’s your little game, School Board.

These are just some of the questions the School Board needs to answer before they charge ahead with this fuzzy-headed, irresponsible scheme. How about it, School Board? Eh? Eh?

William Prendergast is the author of the crime thriller ‘Forbidden Hollywood’, and he isn’t one to panic, but frankly, this laptop computer loan program thing scares him witless.


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