LA schools’ iPads-for-all program was once a ‘civil rights issue,’ but now leaders aren’t sure

Nov 7, 2013 by

LOS ANGELES – Last month, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy declared the district’s decision to give all students iPads was “a civil rights issue,” the LA Times reported.

“My goal is to provide youth in poverty with tools that heretofore only rich kids had. And I’d like to do that as quickly as possible,” Deasy said.

Now, district officials aren’t so sure.

The $1 billion initiative to get iPads into the hands of LA students has been plagued with problems since the district launched the program at 47 campuses this fall. Teachers can’t connect the tablets to the internet, students have bypassed the security settings to surf prohibited sites, and parents aren’t sure if they’re liable for the $678 tablets if they are lost or broken, the LA Times reports.

In some schools, officials forced students to return the devices, in others they’ve been told to keep them at school. Other students have been allowed to continue to use their iPads at school and at home, the newspaper reports.

Despite the problems, Deasy – who holds stock in Apple – deemed the program “an astonishing success.”

“I couldn’t be more pleased to get (the iPads) in the hands of students and teachers. The feedback has been extremely positive,” he told the Times.

LA school board members, however, don’t seem to agree.

As part of a recent presentation by district leaders to the board about the LAUSD’s Common Core Technology Project, board members questioned whether the district was on the right course and whether it’s appropriate to continue implementing the program, according to the Times.

Board members discussed extending the rollout of the iPad program, or looking at other technology possibilities such as laptops or other devices.

“What I hear most often from high school teachers is that their students need laptops more than iPads,” said board member Monica Ratliff, the new chair of the district’s Common Core Technology Project Committee who introduced a resolution to slow down the iPad program.

Ratliff wants to delay phase two of the program to evaluate other technologies and curricula used in city schools. KIPP charter schools, for example, use Google Chromebooks in their classrooms.

Board member Bennett Kayser, a former science teacher, wants to take a more scientific approach to the district’s technology upgrade.

“In science you make a hypothesis and then you get data to support that,” he said, according to the Times. “We need to see that phase one is working before we can move on to phase two.”

The board is expected to consider Ratliff’s proposal to reevaluate the iPad program at its next meeting Nov. 12.

LA schools’ iPads-for-all program was once a ‘civil rights issue,’ but now leaders aren’t sure – powered by Education Action Group Foundation, Inc..

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