i Pads for everyone

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 .

cropped-poster-france-and-great-britain.jpghave 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 .Connecticut 2013 (2) 051

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 .

Educated ones can control the ignorant and can take them for expensive joy rides . Pity I should have to tell educators that !lao tzu

Real Knowledge is to Know the Extent of  One’s Ignorance ——-  Confucius  

9 Comments

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9 responses to “i Pads for everyone

  1. Too bad they can’t say “these will pay for themselves because we will be using e-textbooks” but e-textbooks would probably cost more than paper ones and you probably couldn’t use them more than one year or for more than one kid.

    • They’ve contracted with a school curriculum software company , but the curriculum is not yet fully developed . Typical LAUSD . Now the Superintendent says he’s going to retire . That’s one of the main problems with the school admin. —- no one really has to take responsibility over the long run ; they just move up or move on .

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  3. Give me an old fashioned hard cover book anytime. NO batteries required.

  4. Joey

    I once heard tell a true iPads-in-schools story. Little dudes and dudettes, second graders. So the superman orders them all these flashy computer tablets, in spite of the fact that the teacher was afraid of anything “tech.” (She said so to anyone who would listen.) So after a few days of “learning” how to play games with these iPaderoos, a whole bunch of the things froze. None of those icon thingies would move, click or clack. Poor Miss Teacher was at her wits’ end. She called in the resident geekspert who, after quizzing a few mastermind cherubs, discovered that one of them — I think his name was Albert E. — had figured out how to take a screenshot of the home screen. Of course, Albert E. shared his newfound knowledge with several of his classmates, as he was taught to share such knowledge with the world, and the concerned adults learned a lesson, all thanks to having those iPads in the classroom. So just maybe those machines were worth the money.

    • You reminded me of the in-house school tech guy . ” Turn it off and then turn it on again . ” That’s about the extent of his advice . Strangely , though , usually he was right . I think I could have done that job .

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