9,250 Apples for the teacher. (free computers for California schools) Ken Uston.
In May, 1983, Apple Computer, Inc. announced a program called Kids Can't Wait (KCW). The primary objective of the program is to place an Apple IIe computer system in each of the roughly 9250 eligible elementary and secondary schools in California. (Schols with fewer than 100 students do not qualify for the program.)
Apple tried earlier, in vain, to originate a similar program on a national level. Apple's chairman, 28-year old Steve Jobs, ran into U.S. Congressman Fortney "Pete" Stark on an airplane flight. The two found themselves discussing student computer literacy and tax exemptions for companies donating computers to schools.
As a result of this encounter, Stark introduced a bill in 1982 in the House of Representatives providing for substantial tax credits for contributing companies. The bill allowed tax deductions based on fair market value, rather than cost, which could not exceed 200% of the cost to donors. Apple representatives calculate that, based on the maximum 46% federal corporate tax rate, the contributing companies would end up paying about 8% of the cost of donated equipment.
The bill passed the House overwhelmingly, but came to naught because it never reached the floor of the Senate during the unproductive lame duck session called by President Reagan in late 1982.
Because Apple pays substantial amounts of California corporate taxes, they simultaneously pursued the matter on a state level in Sacramento. This effort succeeded. In September 29, 1982, a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Charles Imbrecht passed in the California legislature. The bill provides that companies donating computer equipment to California public and private schools would get a 25% tax credit (that's credit, not deduction) from thir California taxes based on the fair market value of donated equipment (that's fair market value, not cost). The law went into effect on January 1, 1983 and expires On June 30, 1984.
Apple launched their Kids Can't Wait program in January, 1983. Steve Jobs appointed a full-time KCW project director, Stephen Scheier, and set up an ad hoc team, which currently consists of four people. The team will operate until the KCW project has been completed, although one team member said, "If we go federal, I have no idea [how long the project team will continue]." The Package
Apple is offering a free Apple IIe system to every eligible elementary and secondary school in California. The package includes a 64K Apple IIe computer, a display monitor, one floppy disk drive, and a copy of Apple Logo, a computer language designed for students. The current suggested retail value of the package is $2364. The KCW package also contains coupons for free and discounted educational software from more than 25 educational softwawre publishers, including The Learning Company, Hayden Electronic Publishing, and Sterling Swift.
If all 9250 eligible California schools accept Apple's offer, the total retail value of the donated products will exceed $21 million. Apple projects that the gross cost of the program will be over $5.2 million. But here is where the tax credits make a significant difference.
It is estimated that the California tax credit will be $4 million. (This is less than 25% of $21 million because the net retail price is lower due to dealer discounts.) Thus the net cost of donating $21 million in product is about $1 million, a 95% reduction factor!
Apple is taking pains to ensure that the program runs as smoothly as possible. On May 11, 1983, they mailed an information kit explaining the KCW program to every school and school district in California. As of this writing, they have received positive responses from nearly all of the schools contacted. Dealer Participation
Apple has contacted their roughly 170 dealers in California and offered them an incentive to conduct orientatin sessions for school personnel. For every school session held, the dealer will receive an orientation certificate, filled in by the school. Apple will give the dealer an Apple IIe for every 50 orientation certificate he obtains.
Eighty five percent of the dealers went along with the program. Participating dealers will set up an Apple IIe system on their premises (I imagine most have them set up already) on which school representatives may practice, and dealers will asist in explaining how to handle disks, how to operate the keyboard, and how to use Apple Logo. Apple is providing each dealer with two video tapes: one, designed for display to school personnel, explains the use of the Apple IIe; the second instructs dealers on the KCW program.
The motivation of the participating Apple dealers seems to be a combination of good business sense and an attempt to be good citizens of their communities. When asked why he was participating in the program, one large San Francisco dealer said, "Anything we can do to acquaint users with our equipment is bound to increase sales. There is no guarantee of any financial reward, but anyone with any sense can see it has got to be a positive factor."
A Marin County dealer said, "Sure, it'll take some of our time. But we're doing it basically to help the schools along. Many Marin schools now have computers, but a few of the poorer ones don't. Besides, the more educated people are about computers, the more they will come back to us."
An Apple dealer in Walnut Creek said, "We don't et any fee, but the 'door prize' figures out to about $2 per hour for the time we spent. But regardless, we don't mind doing it. It's part of our obligation to the community, although we are also looking for the PR."
Many of the schools that will receive a free Apple system already have one or more computers. Increadibly, neither state officials or Apple personnel know how many computers are now installed in California schools. Steve Scheier said that for some schools, this will be their tenth (or more) computer; for many others, it will be their first. Peer Tutoring
Skeptics have raised the question: "What good does one computer per school do?" One dramatic answer to this question lies in the work of Interactive Sciences, Inc., of Palo Alto, CA, a nonprofit organization with whom Apple is working. Interactive Sciences is currently testing a method they call Peer Tutoring in a Palo Alto middle school (junior high school). Believe it or not, Peer Tutoring allows a single computer to market the entire student body of an average school computer literate during a single school year or less. In Peer Tutoring, each student teaches two others what he has learned. Interactive Sciences has discovered that an entire semester course is not needed to instruct students in how to use and program a computer.
Instead of a conventional computer class, a "pull-out" system is used. Students come out of class one hour per week for eight to ten weeks to learn computer programming. Then they tutor two other students for a second eight to ten week period.
Jeff Levinsky, Director of Research for Interactive Sciences, cites numerous advantages to Peer Tutoring, including:
* The direct learning is far more interesting than if done using a text book or conducted in a class with many students.
* The method of learning is faster because there is always someone there to help.
* The students learn even more fully because after they have taken their instruction, they tutor other students. Thus, students learn by teaching.
* The program overcomes the serious problem in getting girls interested in computers. With Peer Tutoring, there is a social, interactive situation in which girls are taught by other girls.
* There students use a single computer at one time.
Jeff estimates that with just one comuter, assuming three youngsters per session, six days per week, seven time slots per day, well over 100 students can be exposed to the computer each week. Because the students at the test school have been so enthusiastic about the program, the computers are usually used during evenings and on weekends as well. The program was put on a volunteer basis, yet 90 of the test school students chose to participate.
The Peer Tutoring test has resulted in some students instructing teachers in how to use the computer and, in some cases, teaching their parents as well. The foundation also works with a senior citizen center; one graduate of this program is 93 years old.
Interactive Sciences is preparing a brochure explaining Peer Tutoring. They are also putting together a one-hour lesson, in the form of an eight-page pamphlet, which describes Peer Tutoring and gives directions to the tutor.
Jeff welcomes inquiries from educators and others interested in the program. Write to: Jeff Levinsky, Director of Research, Interactive Sciences, Inc., 1010 Harriet St., Palo Alto, CA 94301, or call (415) 856-1954. Teacher Education
The push for computer literacy is being stimulated by the State of California as well. In January, 1983, the state set up 15 Teacher Education and Computer Centers (TECCs) around the state. Their purpose is to provide teachers with training in mathematics and computer science. As part of the KCW project, Apple is providing five free Apple IIe systems to each TECC. William Honig, the recently elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction, is pushing for legislation which will require all students to pass a computer literacy test as a requirement for graduation from high school.
The Apple Logo provided with the KCW package comes on two disks. Apple representatives stress that this is not merely a simple elementary school student programming language with simplistic turtle graphics. They claim it is a language that teaches students up through high school level how to program. What Others Are Doing
Apple and other computer companies are working with Washington legislators to establish similar tax breaks nationally. The American Electronic Association (whose members include Apple, IBM, Tandy Corporation and a host of other computer manufacturers) has worked toward getting Senate Bills 1194 and 1195 introduced during 1983. These bills provide for deductions beyond the cost of donated equipment, up to a maximum of 200% of the cost of the equipment.
You may well wonder, as did I, if the California and U.S. bills in combination might mean an actual profit to computer donors because of duplicate tax benefits. An Apple lawyer commented, "I doubt if federal legislation would allow a profit on the deal. But right now, it is hazy what overlap, if any, will occur."
Other computer companies are taking advantage of the new California law as well. Early this year, Hewlett-Packard announced a pilot program in which computer equipment is being donated to 14 California high schools. In a different approach from Apple, each school will be given enough equipment to fully supply one classroom. The package includes ten HP-86 personal computers, ten monitors, ten printers, two graphics plotters, twelve disk drives, and a selection of educational software. One Hewlett-Pacakard person is assigned on an "on-call" basis to work with each school. The value of the donation is $51,000 per school, for a total corporate gift of $714,000.
Hewlett-Packard plans to conduct an evaluation conference with participating educators to assess the efficacy of the proggram. Then they will determine what future educational donations or programs, if any, should be established.
IBM announced a program in late March. They are donating 1500 IBM Personal Computer systems to schools in New York, California, and Florida. Eighty-six high schools and 12 teacher training facilities will receive IBM systems. The three states were selected because IBM has major facilities in each of them. Only the California donations are subject to a special tax credit; in New York's and Florida, only the standard tax deductions are expected to apply.
The gift to each school includes a 128K IBM PC, a color monitor, two disk drives, a printer, and a selection of IBM software, including DOS 2.0 and Pascal 2.0. The retail value of each system is about $4800. In addition, each school will be given $10,000 cash grant to help in setting up the program. The total value of the donations is approximately $8 million. The Future
Up until now, I must admit to having been skeptical over the widespread futuristic talk about how all the kids in the country will soon know how to use computers. However, I am rapidly getting the feeling that most young America will be computer literate before too long, particularly if:
* The so-called Apple Bill is passed in Washington.
* Most states follow Honig's lead in requiring computer skills to graduate from high schools, and * Schools across the nation start using programs like Peer Tutoring.
The future may be coming much faster than we think!