Public schools

LA Schools Learn Wrong Lesson from iPad Debacle, Buy Chromebooks and Laptops


Kevin Jarrett / Flickr

Who could be against choice? That's the argument Los Angeles school district administrators are now employing to push their latest round of expensive technology upgrades. Schools will be given the choice to receive Chromebooks instead of iPads—and some schools will get laptops, the most expensive option of all. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Under a new plan, 27 schools that were originally set to receive iPads, made by Apple, now will also have the choice of choosing a less-expensive Chromebook, which uses a Google operating system.

"We're trying to gear this around giving choices to the schools," said Mark Hovatter, who heads the facilities division for L.A. Unified.

The idea is to eventually place such a device in the hands of every child in the district. The problem administrators encountered when rolling out the iPad plan, however, was that kids kept losing or breaking the devices. What happens then? Do parents pay, or does the district? Do kids get a replacement? Teachers also struggled mightily to incorporate the technology into their lesson plans, and concerns about kids using iPads for unsanctioned purposes caused headaches.

The initial iPad deal unravelled after allegations of an improper relationship between then District Superintendent John Deasy, Apple, and curriculum company Pearson. As I wrote in the December 2014 issue of Reason:

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.

Fastforward to today, and the new plan is well underway. Administrators would like people to believe that they are merely introducing choice and competition—all that good stuff that us free-marketeers love—to the technology plan. Each school can choose the right device for its kids.

That's all well and good, but I have little reason to believe that the individual schools will be more responsible stewards of the taxpayer's money than the district was. Indeed, 21 schools decided to go with an even more expensive option: laptops.

Steve Lopez of the LA Times argued persuasively in October that the iPad fiasco was a costly diversion from the district's real problems. Schools can't even find the money for math textbooks, but administrators want to force unneeded technology on them and impose computerized tests.

The district should prioritize basic instruction before deciding to purchase thousands of fancy gadgets.

Free Minds and Free Markets aren't free! Support Reason's annual Webathon with a tax-deductible donation and help change the world in a libetarian direction. For details on giving levels and swag, go here now.

NEXT: Did the St. Louis Rams Apologize to Police for Michael Brown Gesture? No. Should They? No.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. This has to be in the running for one of the dumbest ideas of the year.

    1. Almost as dumb as pigs demanding an apology from the Rams.

    2. If there’s one thing that public schools succeed in teaching, it’s that Peak Derp is unreachable.

  2. Free Minds and Free Markets aren’t free!


    1. If you don’t chip in your buck-o-five, who will?

  3. Who says they learned the wrong lesson?

    It looks to me like they learned real good that you can shovel boxcars of money to your pals by buying computer gizmos For The Children.

  4. they obviously have money to burn.

  5. Indeed, 21 schools decided to go with an even more expensive option: laptops.

    Depends on the laptop and the tablet you want to compare. A Chromebook costs much less ($199 retail) than a new iPad ($399).

    But you can get pretty good tablets for kids for around $100.00. So again, it depends on what you want to compare.

    The obvious question becomes how come the school receives taxpayer money to buy tablets and laptops when the school doesn’t spend money on textbooks.

    1. Chromebooks come at various price points.

  6. Administrators would like people to believe that they are merely introducing choice and competition?all that good stuff that us free-marketeers love?to the technology plan. Each school can choose the right device for its kids.

    “Are your ducts old-fashioned, out-of-date… “

  7. Chromebooks are a cheap disposable device. My first (a Samsung) one lasted a year. My current one (a Toshiba) will probably make it more than a year b/c I now know how fragile (I am being nice here) they are. In the hands of an average student a Chromebook may last a week …

  8. What goes up must come down.

  9. Well, technology gadgets can help to process all of homework and class projects, simplify some tasks. Personally, it is easier to find good custom essay writers online and safe my time and money. If you have home Internet you can get access to the world’s greatest data sources while keeping a room. Of course, parents must control the way and time their kid spends time in front of a computer screen. But modern gadgets aren’t the most important issues in education. If there are some troubles with education process, Chromebooks and iPads won’t make it better.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.