Public schools

iPad Pain

Billion dollar bust

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In 2013, Los Angeles Unified Schools went all-in for a $1 billion program to promote online learning by putting iPads in the hands of every kid in the district. During the test run, dozens of the devices were lost, stolen, or compromised. Now the initiative has completely unraveled amidst allegations of corruption among the officials who inked the deal with Apple.

The iPad program was the brainchild of District Superintendent John Deasy, who thought kids and teachers would benefit from the devices. But in the limited number of classrooms where the program was tried, teachers had difficulty figuring out how to work them into their lesson plans.

Administrators at most schools refused to allow use of the iPads when kids were outside school supervision, which limited their functionality as a homework resource. When the devices inevitably turned up broken or missing, parents wondered who was on the hook for replacing them. The district had no clear answer.

Forced to admit the idea was a costly fiasco, Deasy cancelled the order for more iPads. That's when evidence surfaced that the superintendent and his deputy, Jaime Aquino, were overly friendly with executives at Apple and Pearson, the company supplying curriculum for the devices. Aquino may have improperly advised Pearson representatives on how to guarantee that they landed the contract, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Deasy now wants the district to try giving kids laptops instead. Note to taxpayers: These things cost even more than iPads.