Supt. Deasy’s under intense scrutiny over iPads support

Sep 4, 2014 by

The pitch came from a smiling man in a jacket and tie, sitting at his desk and rhapsodizing about the wonders one product could bring to the sprawling Los Angeles Unified School District. The new item would lead to “huge leaps in what’s possible for students” and would “phenomenally . . . change the landscape of education.”

The speaker was Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy. The object of his admiration was the iPad. And the venue was a promotional video for Apple, later posted online by the computer giant.

The schools chief made the video more than a year before the district formally opened bidding that was supposed to give not just Apple, but a variety of computer and software companies an equal opportunity at a massive technology expansion in the nation’s second-largest school district.

This is a civil rights issue. My goal is to provide youth in poverty with tools that heretofore only rich kids have had. And I’d like to do that as quickly as possible. – Supt. John Deasy, on L.A. Unified’s iPad program

Critics now look back on Deasy’s 2011 video testimonial as early evidence of what they believe was a myopic and headlong rush toward the iPad, one that ended last week with the superintendent suspending the troubled $1.3-billion program. The district originally had intended to supply an iPad, at a cost of $768 apiece, to every student, teacher and campus administrator in Los Angeles’ public schools.

Deasy once spoke as though tablets would be crucial in saving underprivileged students from an inferior, outdated education. With the huge purchase plan suspended, he has alternated between assertions of his acceptance of the slowdown as a chance to regroup and denunciations of others who he said had politicized the process.

As Deasy reached for the appropriate response, three school board members and the head of the teachers union called for an investigation into whether district administrators fairly conducted bidding for the unprecedented tech project.

And several board members said they should have asked tougher questions early on and were too quick to defer to their crusading superintendent and an ongoing mission they believe in — closing the technological gap between Los Angeles’ poor students and their wealthier peers elsewhere.

via Supt. Deasy’s early and avid support of iPads under intense scrutiny – LA Times.

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