Democrats – Kindle in Every Backpack

NYTimes is reporting that some Democrats have huge plans for the Kindle –

A Kindle in Every Backpack: A Proposal for eTextbooks in American Schools,” by the Democratic Leadership Council, a left-leaning think tank, was published on the group’s Web site Tuesday

You can also peruse the document in Kindle format (its just 8 PDF pages). Its written by Thomas Z. Freedman.

Are the Democrats really proposing a Kindle per schoolchild?

Yes. And they want to do it now –

 We shouldn’t wait a decade to begin to achieve what is inevitable – an education system where each American schoolchild has an eTextbook, like Amazon’s Kindle …
loaded with the most up-to-date and interactive teaching materials and texts available.

Its a well written plan and argues the case for an eTextbook System in 3 sections –

  1. Section 1: eTextbooks are better than textbooks because of cheap, easy updates, health benefits to school kids, and environmental benefits. They can also be made exciting and interactive.
  2. Section 2: Over time, an investment in an etextbook infrastructure would create big savings. 
  3. Section 3: How to implement an eTextbook Plan and why there would be support.

What are the big points the Kindle per Schoolchild plan is making?

Here are the big ones –

  1. A Kindle Textbook can be  updated instantly and universally.
  2. A Kindle Textbook allow for flexibility and customization. 
  3. Kindle Textbooks can be integrated into classroom learning better than traditional textbooks.  
  4. Easing the burden on school-children – literally. They quote some college health studies –

    Boston University researchers found back pain or discomfortafflicts an overwhelming 85 percent of college students using backpacks … 

    And according to a 2007 survey administered by the National College Health Assessment, students at Minnesota State reported back pain as the most widespread health problem.

  5. They want to get a Kindle to each of the 56 million K-12 school children in the US.
  6. The US spends $109 per student for traditional textbooks and $6 billion annually.
  7. They do talk about competition and the benefits of it –

    Costs could decrease even faster as more companies promote Kindle-like products in the market …
    competitive devices are currently being released with price tags $110 less than the Kindle

  8. $9 billion more costs in the first 4 years (this right here might just kill the proposal).
  9. Savings kick in in the 5th year – starting at $700 million in the 5th year and then $500 million annually after that.
  10. They talk about a pilot program with under 400,000 students. That’d be a thousand times bigger than any other eReader pilot program.  

My Thoughts – Kindle in Every Backpack is unlikely to Work

  1. The proposal doesn’t seem to point out that it would take 18 years to make back the $9 billion invested in the first 4 years.  
  2. Gov. Schwarzenegger had left out Kindles entirely and just suggested eTextbooks. This is the first plan to specifically suggest Kindles.
  3. For some strange reason the first end-note is from the Colbert Report. Way to show your seriousness.
  4. Wonder what textbook publishers think about the ‘price reductions’ in etextbooks proposed.  

In the unlikely case that this measure gets approved, Amazon and the Kindle would be set for life.

58 million K-12 students getting Kindles is a scary, scary thought.