Oh, shock! Oh, horror!

Something horrible is happening to schools in Ottawa. Something so awful that communities are crying out for mercy, begging their counsellors and mayors to make it stop!

Brace yourselves, it’s going to be shocking . . . Kids are getting new computers! Kids are getting new gyms!

Oh, no! Better facilities and a better learning environment. How on earth are we going to fix this?
Here’s the deal: Microsoft and Corel are donating computer equipment to schools with no strings attached. Well, maybe one string: the software on those computers comes straight from the donor company.

This doesn’t mean they want to change the schools into the Corel or Microsoft Training Centre for Future Employees. It also doesn’t mean that they’re trying to indoctrinate the students into some economic cult designed to advance the profit motives of Bill Gates or Michael Cowpland.

What it does mean is that Ottawa-area students are having the future handed to them, not on silver platters but in the form of Pentium computers equipped with the latest technology.

It mean that students can learn about the social problems in Kosovo by talking to someone in the thick of the conflict through electronic mail.

It means that someone’s taking the students seriously instead of dismissing their needs. Students complained their voices were not heard during last winter’s teacher’s strike. Well, now someone’s listening.

The problem, as some people see it, is that we’re handing our children over to corporate sponsors. But what’s wrong with taking what’s offered? These companies make millions of dollars and are willing to fork over a chunk to people who can benefit from it, and who might not have access to new technologies otherwise.

Wouldn’t we all be complaining if companies took our money without giving back to the community what they have to offer — money and knowledge.

This is just good corporate citizenship.

How loudly have parents complained when mega-companies like McDonald’s or Wendy’s have gone up to bat for a school’s latest cause by donating juice or soft drinks?

What’s the difference between taking free juice and taking a free Internet Explorer program that will be around helping kids for more than just one gulp?

We agree that we don’t want logos slapped on our students or our schools, but we also see no point in denying a Grade 3 student the tools to avoid the techno-phobia running rampant in parents’ minds.
Meredith Dundas and Lindsay George