Public schools

LA School Officials Admit iPad Plan Was Unaffordable and Distracting

When you're spending other people's money...

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Laptop
Ilona75 / Dreamstime

It's once again time to check-in with the Los Angeles Unified School District, a bureaucratic behemoth working diligently to prove that when you're spending other people's money, you'll never come in under budget.

Ramon Cortines, the new superintendent, recently admitted that the district's billion-dollar idea to buy every single student an iPad, Chromebook, or laptop was never affordable or practical in any sense—and in fact clashed with more urgent priorities, like procuring suitable textbooks and rebuilding infrastructure. From The Los Angeles Times:

Cortines said, the L.A. Unified School District will try to provide computers to students when they are needed for instruction and testing.

"I don't believe we can afford a device for every student," Cortines said. "Education shouldn't become the gimmick of the year."

For former Supt. John Deasy, who resigned under pressure in October, the ambitious iPad plan was a signature initiative. It generated national attention and fueled debate about how best to get the latest technology to students in less affluent areas. …

From the start, the funding source was school construction bonds — a strategy that survived legal review but which has been widely criticized.

Cortines touched on that issue in a statement: "There must be a balanced approach to spending bond dollars to buy technology when there are so many brick and mortar and other critical facility needs that must be met."

Are professional education bureaucrats capable of closing their minds to expensive, impractical fantasies and sticking to the actual needs of students? Cortines seems to be doing a better job than Deasy, but it's easy to imagine another Big Idea coming along and capturing his imagination. Lack of adequate funding hardly seems to be much of barrier.

NEXT: Pliny the Younger on lawyers' omitting arguments

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  1. Big ideas are rarely good ideas. Otherwise they wouldn’t have invented the expression, “Hey, what’s the big idea?”

  2. From the start, the funding source was school construction bonds ? a strategy that survived legal review but which has been widely criticized.

    Wow. They don’t even pretend to be honest anymore.

    1. So you’re saying they’re democrats? They learned it from the top guy.

  3. So I’m sure the ‘new big idea’ to replace it will be just wonderful, right?

  4. But did the plan feel good? Yes? Then, forward! Let’s do it again!

  5. I do appreciate Cali just being right out there about “how not to do it”. Too bad no one else seems to be paying attention.

  6. They forgot to fire the teachers.

  7. Cortines touched on that issue in a statement: “There must be a balanced approach to spending bond dollars to buy technology when there are so many brick and mortar and other critical facility needs that must be met.”

    Translation: “It turns out that kick-backs are actually higher in the traditional construction trade than in new-fangled technology markets. Who’d a thunk it!”

    1. There are only so many gadgets your family needs to have around the house. But, a new pool….that’s worth a billion dollar boondoggle you don’t have to pay for.

  8. “Education shouldn’t become the gimmick of the year.”

    Talk about failing at being a Big Government School Boss. Gimmicks define government education.

  9. I will say that there is one fairly large problem with the idea of ipads for high school kids and lower.

    There is generally no way to prevent them from using the devices for non educational purposes and kids that age get addicted to electronics far too easily.

    My 15 year olds high school requires everyone to have an ipad. From an educational standpoint it is working fairly well (and they make the parents pay for them so the school is not on the hook for the cost), the problem is he now spends about 12 hours a day playing on the damn thing and I can’t take it away from him because he genuinely can claim that he needs it for school.

  10. Oh, please.

    The LA School District spends roughly 1k per month per child.
    http://www2.census.gov/govs/school/10f33pub.pdf, Table 8

    An Ipad Air can be had for $500. Chromebook, $300. List prices, not sales.

    Buy them something, pay for monthly internet access, set them up with accounts on Khan Academy, and send them home.

    That’s maybe 1k/year. I bet the results are superior to what LA schools produce now.

    1. I thought the 1k/ student month sounded low. Turns out the LA School District was lying. What a surprise. It’s more like 2.5k per student month.

      http://calwatchdog.com/2010/08…..r-student/
      LAUSD budgeted $29,790 per student for fiscal 2008.

      Of course, the district claims to spend just $10,000. In other words, the real spending figure is about 196 percent higher.

      See Cato Report:
      http://www.cato.org/sites/cato…..a662.pdf,, PG 7

      Although California is considered a relatively low-spending state when it comes to education, the Los Angeles metro area comes in third place for average real spending in our study.23 The average real per-pupil spending
      figure of $19,000 is a stunning 90 percent higher than the $10,000 the districts claim to spend. In addition, real public school spending is 127 percent higher than the estimated median private school spending of $8,400. Los Angeles, spending just over $25,000 per student, is the highest spending of the three
      LA-area districts we examined (Figure 2). This real spending figure is 151 percent higher than the official figure?

  11. Got to cancel that plan to free up money to fund the staff attorney’s fighting deportation orders for students.

  12. I think American economy isn’t so strong to buy every single student an iPad, Chromebook, or laptop. Indeed it’s never affordable idea.
    Modern technologies have already become an essential part of our lives and now we can’t imagine our day without such technologies. It’s easier to find trustworthy essay online service if you have home Internet, or you can get access to the world’s greatest data sources while keeping a room. I believe these gadgets aren’t the most important things for education. Children and teacher are the essential components of success. Implementing a successful digital environment in the classroom can make scholars interested in gaining more knowledge and also there is a need in professional who love teaching kids.

  13. I think this is just the beginning of the introduction to the process of teaching information technology and smart devices, respectively, which will only have a positive effect on the behavior of students and develop their intellectual capacity. Now no one can imagine life without reposed phone, and what will happen if you use your phone and the other devices will be taught in the classroom, and everything is at your fingertips. It’s very difficult to cope with the task of writing, so I use http://ratedwriting.com/. Although I am already in college, but this problem has remained 🙁 Do not know what to do to solve this problem. Now I am constantly bail out such resources, and what will happen I do not know. I like to solve problems as they come.

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