I am reblogging this post because it has now been revealed that the LAUSD made a three year contract for iPad software , but that every year thereafter the District will have to pay about $60 million for the software . The three year clock is already running despite the fact that the software is still a work-in-progress and not complete . The $60 mil has not been budgeted . This significant bit of info was just revealed . The District administrators have been keeping it a secret , it seems .
The L.A. Times published today my letter about this latest information. They edited my letter , however . They used the word “snafu” to describe the mess , as if it were my description . I never use the word “snafu” . I have a good mind to write the Times about that .
I have been reading about the Los Angeles Unified School District’s plan to equip every one of their students with an Apple i Pad . The Los Angeles Times is continuing to beat this dying horse story — another critical story today .
A few months ago the Times was praising the i Pad project . On the front page was a large photo of two young girls , huge smiles on their faces , holding an i Pad . Oh , the Times said , now poor children would have the same access to new technology as rich children ! Finally ! Look at the smiles on their faces ! John Deasy , the LAUSD Superintendent is a miracle worker ! He was the one who pushed the project through despite strong opposition .
Some of the first opposition came from those who objected to school building funds being used for i Pads . Voters in L. A. had voted favorably for a bond measure to raise school building funds in the face of deteriorating school buildings . Now , a $ billion or so of those funds would be diverted to buy i Pads . Oh , but Apple would offer a rebate on their devices ! Such a deal !
I ran this plan past my friend Dan , a retired LAUSD assistant principal . What do you think , Dan ? He laughed . It was one of those rude , disparaging , all -hope-is-lost laughs . His laugh said everything that needed to be said . But , Dan added , ” Didn’t they ask any teacher or administrator at any school site ? ” Apparently not .
Now the tune-changed Times is merciless in their brow-beating critical coverage of the i Pad project .
The first indication of a problem came when 300 students at a couple of schools disarmed the so-called security system that LAUSD technology wizards had installed on the devices so that students couldn’t surf the entire web . They didn’t want students going to porn sites , I suppose , etc . It took these high school students only a few minutes , it seems , to overcome the security .
Then it was discovered that , to use the devices effectively for educational purposes , keyboards would have to be acquired . No keyboards had been budgeted for , of course . The Superintendent said keyboards would not necessarily be needed even while the testing company providing the on-line tests was saying , oh yeah , they are if students are to take the tests .
The public was told that parents would have to pay for broken or lost i Pads . Dan and I laughed about that one , too . Maybe scoffed is a better description of our reaction . Schools can’t even force parents to pay for lost textbooks .
Deasy faced so much opposition almost immediately that he began to backpedal ; but he continued to declare that the ” rollout ” of the i Pads was a great success — a greater success than even he had envisioned . But there was a possibility that the project , because of all the nay-sayers , might have to be delayed awhile . Maybe only some of the schools would get the i Pads immediately .
Apple’s deal with the District provided the i Pads at the price of $670 each , but only if all 520,000 devices were bought as a batch all at once . If fewer were bought now , then the price on each device rises $100 . And LAUSD had still to find money for keyboards . And locking carts on which to store the iPads . And training for teachers and parents . And……………..
And LAUSD had no plan whatsoever for lost and broken or stolen i Pads . They’d work that out later , they said . But Apple would pay for the first 5% of losses , they said , instead of making a plan .
And the software purchased for the i Pads has not been fully developed quite yet . Schools were told to use sample lessons while the actual program was being developed . Don’t worry . Don’t worry . By the end of the year it would all be done .
But , of course , what happens when the software contract runs out in three years ? How will a renewed contract be funded ? Who knows ? The school district response was that they have contracted only with Apple , not with the software guys .
O.K. , then too, so what happens when the i Pads wear out ? They have a three- year predicted life span. Where does the money come from then to replace them ? No one knows . No plan .
And , of course , not all schools and not all homes are ready for high speed internet . Money needs to be provided for infra-structure . No budget for that ?
And why not, instead of i Pads , more inexpensive laptops ? Was that idea considered ? And why weren’t these various problems anticipated and planned for , or cheaper options considered ?
Wow ? iPads for everyone ! Welcome to the world of modern technology , kids !
I understand Deasy and the school board , I think . Rather than bash them , however , I want to put forth the reflection that up-to-date technology is attractive , the idea of acquiring it is intoxicating , but let’s not ingest too much of the intoxicant , not get too close to the fumes when we don’t really know what we’re doing . Maybe , instead , be cautious ; take a more sober approach before committing hard-earned money in an ignorant glee spree for shiny technology .
Real Knowledge is to Know the Extent of One’s Ignorance ——- Confucius