standard Most Expensive School Tablet Program Isn’t So Pretty

Maybe it has happened in your school district.  One iPad for every student!  Sounds great right?  well not so fast.  Look at how it is working out for other large districts across the country:


This middle school in Medford, Mass., asked parents to buy students iPads for school; the ambitious LAUSD one-for-one plan is aimed at students whose parents cannot afford them. (Photo: Boston Globe/Getty Images)

If you were feeling generous, you might say the $1 billion project to put iPads in the hands of every Los Angeles public school student is suffering from front-of-the-pack syndrome. Bold tablet initiatives in North Carolina and Texas schools did not go according to plan either. But many critics suggest the weaknesses of the L.A. district program are too egregious to excuse.

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) tablet mega-plan is the brainchild of School Superintendent John Deasy. His goal: Put 650,000 iPads in grades K12. That quantity figures one for every student, about 80 percent of whom qualify for free or reduced-price meals. These are the kids that the plan is aimed at. They are far less likely to have computers and Internet at home, which places them on the wrong side of the digital divide. But the implementation process has been challenging and isn’t getting any easier as concerns from critics mount.

The latest difficulty results from the unexpected death of a school board member, which last Tuesday caused the board to push back to Jan. 14 a vote on the next phase of the proposal.

This coming phase would involve the purchase of iPads for students and staff at 38 schools, along with 67,000 iPads for use in standardized tests and laptops for trial in several high schools as a more cost-effective substitute. Without a December vote, the devices won’t be ready in time for scheduled tests and trials.


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