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Arkansas panel says no to mobile classroom proposal

An Arkansas legislative panel on Feb. 12 rejected a proposal to create a statewide pilot program that would turn school buses into mobile classrooms with the help of laptop computers, reports the Arkansas News Bureau. House Bill 1273, authored by Rep. Nancy Blount, D-Marianna, failed to clear the House Education Committee, receiving only seven "yes" votes from the 20-member panel. Blount said she would present the bill again. The bill would create a three-year pilot program in which students in participating districts would use laptop computers to take online math and science courses while traveling to and from school in buses equipped with wireless internet service. "This is an attempt to make that time on long bus rides time for learning and not a waste of time, or time for potential discipline problems," Blount said. An adult would be present on the bus, in addition to the bus driver, to monitor the students, Blount said. The bill also would require that the students’ academic achievement be tracked and compared with that of students in non-participating districts. The program would be an expansion of a successful pilot program that was launched in April 2007 in the Sheridan School District. Blount said she was surprised the bill failed, because it would not require districts to participate and would not require any additional funding. She said she planned to talk to the members who voted against the bill to find out what their objections were. "Maybe there’s some misunderstanding," she said…

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