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Teacher Lands In Hot Water For Buying Laptops For Students

A California teacher claims her job is on the line after she bought 90 laptops with her own money for her students to use in class.

Kim Kutzner, an English teacher at Chowchilla Union High School, and her husband, computer specialist Paul Wheeler, told the Modesto Bee they used their own money to purchase the laptops.

Wheeler customized the computers so that kids can't access the Internet from class or do anything they aren't supposed to be doing, Kutzner said, and the students have been using the machines for months.

But school officials removed the laptops from her classrooms because they said the purchase wasn't approved by the district, which is about 150 miles southeast of San Francisco.

“I was told that my job is on the line because of this," Kutzner told the Sacramento Bee. "But I thought I was going above and beyond ... When I first proposed it, I was told how generous it was. It’s just absurd. It’s not logical or reasonable.”

Kutzner said she was motivated to provide the laptops because, while Chowchilla Union High has computer labs, most classrooms don't have laptops. The machines have made a difference in productivity, she said, with test scores and morale improving in the months since students began using them for classroom projects.

For digital natives -- defined as children born since the invention of the Internet -- completing assignments on a computer feels more natural than hand-writing essays or homework, Kutzner said.

"Usually, when I would assign them to write a 500-word story, I would hear groans and I couldn’t get them to focus," she told the Sacramento Bee. "But now they go to work without a peep because they like using technology -- it’s nonthreatening."

The laptops have since been returned to the classroom, but the issue isn't settled yet.

Chowchilla Union Principal Justin Miller said the school district must make sure the computers don't jeopardize students' personal data, and that the school isn't running afoul of regulations by allowing the donation, worth about $78,000. The school board will make the final decision.

“The biggest concern the district has is making sure that it’s safe and passes all the rules and state and federal governmental regulations, since it was brought in from the outside,” Miller said. “Depending on the filter and things like that, they might not be safe, so we are reviewing everything and trying to be as safe as possible.”

Sources: Sacramento Bee, Chowchilla Union High School / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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