Pando

LA school district, shocked that iPad program didn't magically fix everything, demands money back

By Nathaniel Mott , written on April 16, 2015

From The News Desk

The plan to outfit every student in the Los Angeles Unified school district with an iPad has come screeching to a halt -- and the schools want their money back.

LA Unified has requested a refund from Apple, the Los Angeles Times reports, because the Pearson-made software used to justify the iPad program was a bust. (Some 43,000 of the district's iPads came with Pearson's software preinstalled.)

This is just the latest episode in this disastrous plan, which was fraught with issues before the district had even officially decided to go with Apple's products. Here's what Yasha Levine said about the suspect bidding process for Pando:

Remember that promotional Apple video? Well, if you watch it, you can see John Deasy doesn’t just endorse iPads as great educational tools but claims that his district had already 'decided to adopt iPad technology' – which is strange considering that video was first broadcast at an iBooks education conference in January 2012, more than a year before LAUSD started taking bids for its tablet project.

Likewise, at the announcement of the bidding process, officials referred to the tablet devices they planned to buy as 'iPads' but later insisted that, of course, any tablet device might make the cut. As the LA Daily News reported, Apple representatives were in the audience for the announcement. Things didn't improve after the bidding process ended. Pando alum Carmel DeAmicis reported that the iPads cost $100 more than expected, meaning the school would receive fewer tablets for its money, and that students swiftly dismantled the firewall meant to restrict the iPads to academic activities.

Besides, it's not like students needed iPads in the first place. As 13-year-old Aidan Chandra explained in a guest post for Pando, students need laptops that can handle everything thrown at them, not tablets with limited functionality:

Looking ahead, I think it will be hard for iPads and their sister tablet devices to keep up with larger apps and cutting edge technologies that may enter the classroom. They likely won’t be able to handle larger files or possess enough power and storage to efficiently use a 3D printer and create 3D models. Just as soon as many schools finish spending their budget on iPads, they are likely to find these iPads to be insufficient for keeping up with newly developing educational technology trends.
Let that sink in for a moment. An eighth grader was able to see that tablets -- let alone iPads, which are more expensive than their counterparts -- aren't the best investment for schools looking to offer students better access to technology. Yet an LA school district couldn't figure this out until after the contract was signed?

And now that district wants some of its money back. At least we know what the refund might be spent on: the school's problems with its iPads and Pearson's curriculum have convinced it to order new textbooks. No iPads, no software, just a good-ol'-fashioned stack of paper stacked between two hard covers.

Maybe that plan will work out better.

[illustration by Brad Jonas]