Whereas I understand the economics, I'm not sure about this call for a unified installer. More, it'll be up to each district or locale to burn a defacto gold standard, which will come in several flavors e.g. server, workstation, and maybe router. Localization is an important feature of Linux, and in the international setting means fully leveraging the inherent power of unicode.
The new community-supported version of Linspire, named FreeSpire, might be a good one to look at, if not wanting to hop on the Ubuntu / Edubuntu bandwagon. http://www.freespire.org/ You tend to alienate geek students, with tuned systems at home, if you don't even have the minimal codecs and a Java VM. Some distros make all this aftermarket, a headache for the school's IT personnel (in a smaller school, those may be the same gnu math teachers tasked with teaching the stuff -- a good combo actually, if you get the timing right (maybe rotate responsibilities quite a bit, spread competencies)).
I also didn't get from the article to what extent Indiana is deploying LTSP type solutions (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LTSP) , which make the server the file system and centralized source of applications.
Having a local hard drive can be a nice feature, so I'm not saying it's wrong to have both (you definitely want servers though, as well as Internet connectivity if at all possible -- standalone boxes just don't leverage capabilities intelligently).
At Free Geek, I went with an LTSP setup (the defacto gold standard at that institution) and didn't experience it as too limiting. Each workstation had quite a bit of RAM (for the time) and each student (home scholar) was able to boot and run IDLE without glitches, although we did need to set an -n flag as I recall. Some of my courseware for that multi-session experience are archived through my Oregon Curriculum Network website.