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For Kingıs laptop dream, perseverance paid off


Gov. Angus King was relieved Tuesday.

Finally, after two years of wrangling with opposition, he won approval for
$25 million to pay for laptop computers for every seventh- and eighth-grader
in Maine public schools. The money is provided in the state budget signed by
King Monday night.

In August, 19,000 Apple laptops will arrive in seventh-grade classrooms
across the state. Eighth-grade classrooms will get them in 2003.

It means Maine will be the first state to use laptops statewide. Other
school districts have distributed laptops, ³but nobody has done it on this
scale,² King said. ³Itıs the largest educational technology program in

Long term, King says laptops will create better jobs and higher pay. ³Itıll
do that in three ways. Thereıll be more content knowledge available to our
students; they wonıt be stuck with out-of-date textbooks. Secondly, our kids
will be more adept at technology than any society in the world, just because
theyıll have 100 percent access. Itıll be like hockey players who donıt have
to think about skating.² Using technology will become as natural as their
right arm, he said.

And, he added, ³it doesnıt hurt Maine to be known as the place thatıs hot
when it comes to technology.²

One lesson King said he has learned in the two-year effort ³is the value of
perseverance. Thatıs one of the qualities you have to bring to this job,² he
said. ³There were plenty of times we could have walked away from this. But
after two years of being beaten up and fighting for this, all the while
reading about this and talking to educators, I am absolutely more convinced
now than the day I announced it² that itıs the right thing to do.

Given that the state was facing a $250 million deficit in January, itıs
³miraculous we cut taxes, increased funds to education, and that the
computer program is still intact and is going forward,² King said. ³Iım

The $25 million will only pay for seventh- and eighth-grade laptops for four
years. After that future lawmakers will have to approve funding to continue
the program.

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