As the superintendent of a fast-growing school district in suburban Dallas, Mike Smith faces a textbook shortage every fall. But this year will be a little different at the Forney Independent School District.

Every fifth- and sixth-grader at Johnson Elementary, 100 to 150 students, will receive a $1,350 IBM ThinkPad computer loaded with digital versions of state-approved textbooks and 2,000 works of literature. If the experiment works, the program will be expanded to other grades as well.

"We think this is better than simply going out and buying more textbooks,"


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