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prerequisite for admission to many colleges. Affluent school districts have

begun purchasing computers for their primary and secondary schools.

A joint

commitment from schools, business, and the government is required to insure

all our school children have access to computers.

The issue is not whether computer literacy is a worthwhile goal.


sides agree decisive action is required. The real issue is what the program

should be.

We believe tax expenditure legislation like the Apple Computer Bills

is an expensive and inefficient way to promote computer literacy. It may

satisfy a few computer manufacturers, but it will not satisfy educators or the

public interest for the following reasons:

From the educator's standpoint:

1. Loss of control. Under this tax expenditure legislation the computer manufacturer will decide which of its products to "give" and which

schools to give to.

Teachers and school administrators will have no control

over the type and number of computers that will be placed in their schools,

even though the program is at public expense. Teachers will not be able to

develop a coherent, logical plan to acquire computer equipment that meets

their students' special needs.

Instead they will be forced to take what

manufacturers offer them "or leave it". The most probable result will be a

crazy quilt of donated computers, peripheral equipment and software in each school that cannot be used interchangeably with computer equipment already in place or with equipment donated by other manufacturers, and disjointed computer education programs that do not build from one year to the next.

Schools will be


to spend large sums


fill-in purchases of

peripherals, software and later generation computers to rationalize the computer equipment they are "given".


Program too narrow.

The Bills require computers be donated

pursuant to a written plan which provides for donations across geographic and

economic lines. It is hoped these written plans will insure fairness.


will not.

Some school districts will receive no computer equipment at all or

so little (one computer per school) as to be meaningless. Every child should

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written, these Bills contain technical limitations that discriminate in favor

of expensive "high end" computers and actually exclude less expensive computers, even though these less expensive computers have unquestioned

educational value and may be more suitable to teach computer literacy.


believe these Bills would not cover 80-90% of the personal computers sold in

1982. The limitations that exclude many worthwhile computers are discussed at

greater length below.

From the standpoint of public interest.

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The cost of this legislation is open-ended and cannot be


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unpredictable way to promote social policy goals, no matter how worthy.


Internal Revenue Code is already too complicated. Every addition to the Code

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expenditure measures, through the IRS audit process, will be particularly


These Bills will leave it to the IRS agent to determine

whether a particular computer is "suitable for educational use," whether it

has sufficient memory capacity, computer language capability, etc. and whether

the manufacturer's written plan for donations is fair. This asks too much of

the tax audit process. How can IRS agents

IRS agents be expected to make these determinations when some of the Bill's proponents are unsure about some

technical aspects?

A taxpayer will not be able to determine whether its

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computer manufacturers and manufacturing divisions which are part of large conglomerate corporations are sure to have taxable income, including income

from other products and activities, which increased tax deductions will


Newer entrants, which normally experience losses in their early

years, can't use additional tax deductions.

These new companies will be foreclosed from the educational market, perhaps permanently, because schools

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tied to the products given them by more established

It is surprising the Congress would consider fostering


anti-competitiveness in the electronics industry through tax legislation.

The Bills cannot be amended to cure these problems - they


inherent in all tax expenditure legislation. We therefore oppose the Bills in



In addition to the general problems above, we believe the Bills have

specific problems. Correcting these specific problems will not correct the

general problems discussed above.

Even if all the specific problems were

cured, the general problems remain so serious we would continue to oppose the

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limitations were intended to insure the tax expenditures in the Bills go to

purchase "the best possible computers" and not electronic game machines.

We agree that public funds should not be used to purchase game

machines, but these limitations will not work.

For one thing, the Bills confuse price/computing capability with

Teaching computer literacy



can be done much



effectively with 20 $100 computers which are somewhat less powerful than with

one $2,000 computer that is more powerful but only occasionally available for a student's individual use. Students must have meaningful, regular access to

a computer.

When we teach children to write, we don't buy one electric

typewriter for the entire class and require the children to stand in line to

use it; we provide each student with his own pencil.

The same teaching

principle must apply for computer literacy. Requiring a high price and a lot

. of computing capability may exclude game machines, but it will also exclude

the very computers that should be covered. *

For another thing, these definitions will prove too restrictive over

time. Any definition of "qualified computer equipment" would be too narrow because no one can say what new computer products will be introduced in the

next few years.

Particular technical problems with the Bills are as follows:

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*This points up the problem of putting control of the program in the

hands of manufacturers, a problem which is inherent in this type of tax

expenditure legislation. If educators rather than manufacturers could control

what computers the public's money will buy, there would be no danger that game

machines would be purchased with federal funds.

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