Mac Lab Report

No Sympathy for Pundit Bashing Macs in Schools

- 2004.12.03

My response to The Mac attack: No sympathy here for teachers polishing Apples by Rich Brooks, an article published in the Sarasota [FL] Herald Tribune on Saturday, November 27, 2004.

Dear Mr. Brooks,

You know what this message is about. You're even now, as you skim over the opening lines of this message, trying to make a split second decision about whether to read the rest of it or delete it along with the dozens of other pro-Mac letters you've gotten. Some of them will be poorly written, riddled with personal attacks or insults, most centering on the whole "no-brainer" opening you left for them. Others will be thoughtful, listing dozens of studies and giving links to web sites such as John Droz's ( and Doug Gilliliand's (, which you manage to mention without providing a Web address so we can read it for ourselves.

So maybe you can respond to this message without reading it, since you've probably classified it already as one of those "fanatic" letters and had your incoming mail route it to a special folder where you can read it later when you're not writing important stuff . . . for example, I know you'll be busy writing another column about all of these fanatical Mac users just don't understand the "reality" of today's business climate. I won't bother repeating the old saw about one of the reasons Mac market share is so low is because people have to replace their PCs more often (market share is not user share); you won't read it.

From your point of view, you won't need to read it. Your mind is made up; like all objective journalists and balanced editorial writers, you've seen both sides of the issue, thought about the opposing arguments, taken a stand, and stuck to it. Amazingly enough, you've done so without actually using a Mac, so my hat is off to you. (At least when I write articles critical of the PC, I sit down at a PC and try to do things. I wish I was as smart as you. Seems like you're getting by with half the effort I put into this sort of thing.)

Perhaps you could spare a few minutes and fly out here to my school district and fix our school network for us, which was recently infected with a Trojan horse by a student in a computer class. Now our network goes down regularly, teacher computers are compromised and filling up with spyware (at least the PCs do), and thanks to the McDonalds's theory of computing platform preference (Biggest Market Share Trumps Quality Product Every Time), we're even banned from buying Macs.

That's supposed to solve the problem somehow, although exact mechanism of how that works is a little bit beyond my meager understanding. It's kind of ironic, since Macs are the only computers immune to the entire morass of junk infecting our network - at least if I understand the meaning of the word "ironic." It might take some smart journalist-type guy to 'splain it to me.

So thanks for encouraging your district and others to keep those IT guys employed. We sure need more of 'em, because our poor folks are putting in long hours for little appreciation and letting every other work order fall by the wayside. If we're lucky, twice as many techs could keep up with the demand and re-image every single PC in our district just in time for summer.

I'm sure that's good for business. Not my business, but someone's.

My business is teaching, and boy it sure would be nice to have someone come out here and show me now to do my job. After you've fixed your local district, maybe you can come out here and show us how to make photocopies more efficiently by making copies on both sides of the paper or something.

Jeff Adkins
Teacher of the Year
Antioch Unified School District
Antioch, California

cc: heraldtribune letters to the editor

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is a longtime Mac user. He was using digital sensors on Apple II computers in the 1980's and has networked computers in his classroom since before the internet existed. In 2006 he was selected at the California Computer Using Educator's teacher of the year. His students have used NASA space probes and regularly participate in piloting new materials for NASA. He is the author of two books and numerous articles and scientific papers. He currently teaches astronomy and physics in California, where he lives with his twin sons, Jony and Ben.< And there's still a Mac G3 in his classroom which finds occasional use.

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