Thursday, October 10, 2013

The LAUSD I-Pad I-FUBAR Debacle

The sprawling Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is the second largest in the country, educating over 640,000 students at 1124 K-12 schools. LAUSD has struggled recently with financial problems, deteriorating facilities, teacher abuse cases, restrictive union rules, rubber rooms, a cumbersome bureaucracy, and poor test scores. The 3R’s are a challenge for many of the students. The problems are not solely of the LAUSD’s fault. About 80% of the students come from low income families. Many first generation students are from immigrant families, which do not speak English at home. A large percent of the students are illiterate in English and deficient in math. LAUSD’s solution? $500 million will be spent providing each student an I-Pad@$678. An additional $500 million will be spent on equipment and training. The Los Angeles school children will be computer literate. Or not. The textbooks and lessons will be downloaded onto the I-Pads. The young students will no longer have to trudge heavy books back and forth. They will do their homework on the computers with the results transmitted to the teacher. The IPads are thus for instructional purposes. Internet sites will be blocked. That is the theory. Over $30 million has been spent so far on providing IPads to 47,000 students. Today’s students, inner city or suburb, are computer savvy. The students at Roosevelt High School quickly cracked the LAUSD’s security settings in a simple three-step process: 1) Access the Settings 2) Delete the LAUSD Profile 3) Set up internet connections. 260 students at Roosevelt, 70 at Westchester High School, and10 at Angelou Community High School had the new code in a veritable nanosecond and entered Facebook, tweeted, played video games, and who knows what else. The IPads at Roosevelt and Westchester were called back by the LAUSD. Further distributions were frozen and students are no longer allowed to take the IPads home, thereby negating one of the major purposes of the IPad drive. 71 IPads were reported missing, 69 of them at the Valley Academy of Arts and Sciences in Grenada Hills, an affluent community. The school district in its haste to distribute IPads had not addressed the issues of damaged IPads, lost IPads, and stolen IPads. The contract with Apple requires the company to replace up to 5% of the IPads. LAUSD has to eat the difference unless it can get the economically poor parents or guardians to cover the losses. The cumbersome LAUSD bureaucracy had not thought out what it was doing.

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