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Online Sex Act Incident Will Not Affect Ladue Laptop Program

The One-to-One learning initiative, which could provide Ladue high school students with a laptop to take home, could implement internet filters even at the student’s home.

An investigation is still underway into the case of a Ladue Middle School student who gained access to a video chat site using a school computer where a middle aged man performed an online sex act for the student.

The student was caught by the district’s technology staff, disciplined, and police were notified. The website in question, and another similar one, have since been blocked by the district. Police is also investigating the location of the man who allegedly masturbated to the student on camera.

“Student safety is the district’s primary concern,” said Susan Dielmann, spokesperson for the Ladue School District, in a news release. “This includes internet safety, and every effort is made to ensure the district’s website filters are effective.  This site was quickly blocked once the activity was detected, and due to immediate collaboration with City of Ladue police, a related site has now also been blocked by the district. Unfortunately, those creating inappropriate website content are constantly attempting to circumvent filters.  It is a never-ending process to identify and block these sites and unfortunately, there are times when the efforts of those promoting these sites are successful.”

The incident occurred as the district considers the One-to-One learning initiative, which would provide high school students in the district their own laptops to use both at school and home.

Dielmann said that, at this time, approval of the initiative depends on funding. Dielmann, however, said that the school district will do the best it can to prevent inappropriate websites from being accessed through the laptops.

“The use of computers and the internet are, and will continue to be, a way of life for our students and have great educational value,” Dielmann said. “Should the One-to-One Learning Initiative move forward, the laptops issued to students would all be networked through the district's site filtering service while they are at school. It is possible for this service to extend to home use as well, and that is an option the district may explore and consider.”

mjf December 05, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Translation of the school's PR comments: "This is going to continue to happen and there isn't much we can do to prevent it. Your kids are going to be exposed to this stuff everywhere else, so you need to get over the fact that it is going to happen at school, too." My take: the proponents of the one-to-one program say that Ladue kids need to learn to be computer-savvy to live in today's world. Isn't the fact that a 13 year old kid was able to circumvent the school's filter, created and implemented by so-called computer professionals, enough evidence that the kids of today don't need a laptop to become proficient in computer technology? Don't try to use logic with this Board, though. They have made the decision to spend our money, and no logic or reasoning will get in their way.
flyoverland December 05, 2012 at 02:39 PM
I am not sure I have heard the entire reasoning behind this project except that "we need to ensure our kids have access to technology." "Technology" in edu-speak means computers. This is sort of like saying in 1960 we need to adopt the telephone. As mjf points out, that train has left the station. Our kids already know more about computers than most of their teachers. This shouldn't be about teaching them about the technology. With apologies to Marshall McLuhan, the computer is not the message. I don't really care if they adopt it. I care about who will pay for it. If parents are told their kids need a laptop, these computers should be like tennis shoes and Elmer's Glue-all, a school supply. Affordable parental leasing programs for "one to one machines (computers)" are readily available and affordable for most families. We can talk about those who can't afford it. Any such program is going to have a lot of growing pains. Some subjects will be better suited to "one to one" machines than others. The school district should know that its watchdogs will be closely monitoring any and all costs of this program to ensure they keep their promise that this will not be paid for by the taxpayers. It is certainly going to cost more than the estimates. Everything does.
Jill Moore December 05, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Many good points. I cannot stress this enough. If you have concerns over this program, it is VITAL that the school board gets a reasonable and rational email from you. Ladueboard@ladueschools.net is the email address. SO many in the community want to put the brakes on this and I am an optimist. If the board HEARS you, they will vote in a way that is responsible to the community as a whole and not just the factions who want this initiative shoved through. This will be discussed at Monday's school board meeting (dec 10) and again on jan 14. THE VOTE IS SCHEDULED FOR JAN. 28th! Please do not just comment here. PLEASE email the school board at ladueboard@ladueschools.net
Jill Moore December 05, 2012 at 03:35 PM
P.s. why don't we let the district "explore and consider" security BEFORE we vote this through, not after. Cart before the horse.
flyoverland December 05, 2012 at 03:59 PM
With the top two positions Supt. and High School Principal currently empty, it would be foolhardy to move forward with a major paradigm shift at least until those jobs are filled. If we are bringing in new talent and new ideas, why not wait to hear them instead of imposing a program advocated by the former regime? That is, unless we already know who we're hiring.
Jill Moore December 05, 2012 at 05:12 PM
ABSOLUTELY CORRECT flyoverland!
PaulRevere December 05, 2012 at 05:38 PM
My --OH! --My!!! And all the people of Missouri wanted was "Gratuitous Instruction" in our Free Public Schools. It has now turned into a Total child support program. (School Welfare programs are in full swing) Does anyone care that hundreds of families already have fulfilled their "education" responsibilities to our children? Even the new Obamacare exempts me from buying medical Insurance IF I ALREADY HAVE IT. May I suggest Families who already have paid for their children's Education be exempted from ALL these add-ons to Public schools.
Carson D. December 06, 2012 at 04:10 AM
One can not consider the 1:1 computer program simply an add on to the public school system. The 1:1 initiative will replace text books, are textbooks add ons? Or are those important enough so you don't mind footing the bill @PaulRevere.
Dave Cole December 06, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Carson D. is correct in that one of the ways the district plans to offset costs on the 1:1 initiative is through savings by using ebooks. I looked at the 11 books my son has this year and only 2 of them are available as ebooks. Does this mean those teachers will have to adapt to a new curriculum and text book on top of trying to figure out how to use the laptops in the classroom? By the way, of the 2 books which were available as ebooks, the subscription cost for a year was more expensive than the cost of the hardback book. Over five years, then, the ebook would cost 5 times as much as the hardback book. I'm sure Ladue will get some discount off of this, but I question the real savings of replacing the textbooks. According to Barnes and Noble, only about 15% of college textbooks are available as ebooks and, when given the choice of ebook or hardback book, 85% of students still choose hardbacks (even at a higher price).
flyoverland December 06, 2012 at 05:56 PM
You make an excellent point. I am happy to agree that the board should be able to back out the cost savings, if any, in textbooks that intuitively you would think should cost less. However, that may not always be the case. I am more concerned about the less transparent "back office" that will be required to run this program. That part will be where the watchdogs need to keep a close eye.
CreveCoeurDad December 06, 2012 at 07:32 PM
The question should not be "Are the ebook equivalents of current textbooks cheaper?" - the answer to that will always be no, as textbook publishers aren't stupid enough to cut their own throats, but rather will alternatives to existing textbooks emerge that will force down prices for academic materials across the board? Face it, textbooks are an oligopoly that have a high barrier to entry - alternative materials may allow a different market to emerge. I'm not sure we're there yet, however, which is why one-to-one may be premature. Flyoverland is also correct, the backoffice end of this may be key, and it's where all the hidden costs are. Remember, hardware and software are cheap, people are expensive. We can buy all the hardware and software in the world for next to nothing compared to what it will cost in administering the hardware and software. I'm awaiting the presentation on Monday, which I'm sure will be given by Rosey Scenario, as maybe there's something I don't know, but I continue to be skeptical. A full blown rollout would involve something like 1300 laptops. How many IT people do you need to take care of a 1300 person organization? Hint: It's more than 2. One number I just came up with on a quick search is 65:1. Conveniently, this works out to a 20 person organization. At $100 to $150K per IT person, we're talking about a support budget of $2 to $3 million per year. Anything they come up with that diverges from this had better have a VERY good explanation.
Scott Simon December 06, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Good call by the district not to ban laptops. Viewing child porn wasn't caused by a laptop, it was caused by a computer. Just like a gun didn't kill in KC Saturday morning, Jovan Belcher did.
Dave Cole December 07, 2012 at 12:15 AM
I agree with CreveCoeurDad and Flyoverland on the backoffice. I understand they are not planning on adding any IT people nor increasing the network bandwidth. Unfortunately, I don't believe that is in any way realistic. You'll need people just to handle the routine things - someone didn't charge their battery, or forgot their laptop, or the laptop isn't working for some reason. Someone will need to get them a spare laptop. The network bandwidth is 100 Mb, and I question whether or not that will support the 1400 or so laptops if all are in use, such as during AC Lab. These are the hidden costs which must be considered up front. If not, a year or two down the road we've added a couple of people, doubled the bandwidth, and greatly increased the cost. Hopefully, the board is looking at real projected cost scenarios.
flyoverland December 07, 2012 at 12:57 AM
I seriously doubt anyone on the board has the technical wherewithal to make a judgment personally. They will have to rely on the unelected "experts." I used to run a big company and we probably had 500 people carrying laptops all over the world. these were adults with padded briefcases, not kids with backpacks. We had three people who did nothing but fix them. Schools today are all about empire building. This program will create a new principality in the school kingdom. I will tell you what my venture capital partners used to say. "The only thing we know about our projections is they are wrong. We will know more about why they are wrong in a year. But, by then, we will have new incorrect assumptions." VC's routinely double your estimated costs and halve your estimated sales, then subtract a ten percent fudge factor. Even so, they are still wrong about 30% of the time. Hopefully, parents who are experts in this field will step up and help the board understand if they are making a mistake.
ReverePaul December 07, 2012 at 05:34 AM
hey paulrevere, i think it's pretty sad that you spend your entire life blowing up message boards so whhy don't you quit your complaining and just leave the district. It's clear you hate paying for public schools but that's not going to change anytime soon
ReverePaul December 07, 2012 at 05:37 AM
Do you think big companies only have 500 people carrying laptops now? Times are changing dude but I still don't think kids need laptops for school until they reach college
CreveCoeurDad December 07, 2012 at 06:04 AM
It all depends on what class you're talking about. The STEM kids pretty obviously need some sort of laptop, but that's a limited group. Most English courses probably wouldn't gain much by having them, other than they may be able to use them during class for writing exercises. Most sciences classes could be reorganized to take advantage of them. Most social studies could add a whole lot of material to the classroom via laptops and make a dry subject much more interesting. Obviously most PE and art classes would have limited use. Math classes would be yes and no, depends on how you want to implement it. All of this is dependent on someone developing the materials that can be used on the laptops - that is another subject entirely. I sometimes get the impression that the supporters of the initiative are taking a Field Of Dreams approach - buy them, and the course materials will magically come along.
PaulRevere December 07, 2012 at 09:05 AM
Carson: Individual Computers do have a place in our schools---At College level. Public schools are for "Gratuitous Instruction". That is all our MO Constitution requires. So we will disagree about the role of Public schools in society. What the Board should be doing is Getting the whole Cost (100%) of any computers from wage reductions. PERIOD. The problem with ALL public schools is Wage Costs--Not Computer needs. No matter what technology is needed, It is the massive 75% wage cost that should be addressed. No additional budget for computers would be necessary , if our Public schools paid wages/benefits in line with Wages earned by the public. That is not true today. Maybe Ladue's homeowners are wealthy enough to ignore my conclusions, but I speak for those hundreds of families unable to support more technology costs. You are all spinning your wheels trying to justify computers, when the number one problem is allowed to linger on. Flyover is on mark in future costs running and caring for individual computers at public schools. One thing is certain, Technology will become the second biggest budget cost. Expect all businesses to pick up the tab with higher Property tax rates never before imaginable.
flyoverland December 07, 2012 at 02:04 PM
ReverePaul, it is a shame you didn't have a "one to one" machine when you went to school because then you would have not missed the point of my comment. The point (and I am sure you will get it as I am sending it from my "one to one" machine, even though if you count my iPad, I might be considered a "two to one" guy) was that even adults abuse laptops. Kids will be even more abusive, just because that's what kids do, so the infrastructure required to maintain the "one to one" machines will be even greater than that for adults and may be greater than the school district estimates. I just want them to be realistic in the estimates and not stick the taxpayers with the bill when they are wrong. I don't care if Ladue has a "one to one" program (i.e., a laptop in every garage and a chicken in every pot), I just want to be on the record saying that these "one to one" machines need to be considered a school supply and the taxpayers should not be buying them for the children of millionaires and billionaires. The 1% of "one to one" users can buy their own tennis shoes, crayons, Elmer's Glue-all and "one to one" machines. Get it now?
flyoverland December 07, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Creve Coeur Dad, you are so right about the "Field of Dreams" syndrome. I ran across this video the other day that really drives home your point. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGPrFxY2fqM
Dave Cole December 07, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Ladue e-lert: One-to-One Learning Initiative Postponed Beyond the 2013-14 School Year The district, through the Ladue Education Foundation, has recently been pursuing the private and corporate funding needed to move this program forward during the 2013-14 school year without impacting the district’s overall operating budgets for the next two school years. In addition, the district has been aggressively pursuing instructional training for staff at all levels to prepare for the implementation of this initiative. However, as a result of recent media attention regarding internet safety and recent changes announced in future district leadership, the administration will be making a formal recommendation to the Board to postpone the One-to-One Learning Initiative until a time when there is a more conducive climate for it succeeding. This decision was reached jointly, with full agreement, by the administration and the district's Technology Board Advisory Committee. Many have worked hard to bring the program to this point, and it is with some regret the decision has been made to delay it. It is the district's hope that with further discussion by parents, teachers and students, this program will move forward in the future.
flyoverland December 07, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Looks like Jill Moore's campaign worked. Jill Moore for School Board!!!
Gregg Palermo December 07, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Thanks for sharing this Dave....we'll definitely be following up with school officials. GP
ReverePaul December 07, 2012 at 07:17 PM
flyoverland you said nothing in your original comment about adults abusing laptops. All you said was "I used to run a big company and we probably had 500 people carrying laptops all over the world. these were adults with padded briefcases, not kids with backpacks. We had three people who did nothing but fix them. " Where do you see in that statement adults abuse laptops? Good job explaining it the second time though. I'm sure you will get my point as I'm sending it through my one to one machine though. What is that supposed to mean? Are you saying you yourself are abusing your "one-to-one" machine by responding to my post
flyoverland December 07, 2012 at 08:36 PM
I am unsure I am capable of explaining it in terms you would be able to comprehend.
PaulRevere December 07, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Great decision! And ReverePaul says these message boards are useless. Now it's time to ask ALL educators to start putting some "investments" in this system. Can't hurt?
ReverePaul December 07, 2012 at 09:27 PM
i'm unsure that you know how to explain your thoughts
ReverePaul December 07, 2012 at 09:31 PM
yea i'm sure Ladue made their decision based off what a couple of guys said on a message boards. Congratulations you did it! By the way message boards are useless when it's people like yourself believing that your right about everything

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