Disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner made news again last week with an announcement that he was exploring a run for mayor in New York City. Weiner’s testing of the political winds continues this week with the release of his “platform” for the city’s top job. His “Keys to the City” blueprint lists 64 “ideas” meant to transform and improve life in Gotham. One of Weiner’s sillier ideas is to give every school kid a Kindle e-book reader.
Kids today walk around weighed down by backpacks full of outdated books that cost taxpayers nearly $100 million per year and will rise with new standards. EBooks would cost less, give teachers access to millions of titles, and are never out-of-date.
Weiner’s “Keys to the City” even links to an op-ed he penned on the subject 3 years ago. So, he’s really into this idea. There are over 1 million students in the New York City public school system, so equipping them all with Kindles would cost at least $140 million. The costs would likely be much higher, as the system would inevitably have to purchase thousands more as back-ups and replacements.
Weiner thinks this idea would ultimately save money, since the system would no longer have to buy physical textbooks. Just because a textbook can be read on a Kindle, however, doesn’t mean it is free. While an e-textbook might be cheaper than an actual book, it still has a cost.
One doesn’t have to even know a teenager or middle-schooler to imagine the innumerable ways they could use their Kindle for purposes other than education. A textbook can do only one thing — provide instruction on a subject. A Kindle, however, can surf the web, play games, apps and videos.
The real problem with the idea, however, is that it is yet another small, cosmetic change offered by liberals to fix our broken public education system. The schools are run by, and designed to benefit, the largely unionized teacher and administration staff. Despite annual increases in funding, school performance continues to lag or fall further behind.
New York City currently spends more than $20,000 per pupil, 60% more than just a decade ago. Almost 4 out of 10 students don’t graduate high school, though. There is no app to fix that.