L.A. Schools Reboot Plan to Give Every Student a Computer

By Corey Mitchell — February 24, 2015 1 min read
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Crossposted from Digital Education

By Benjamin Herold

The Los Angeles Unified district cannot afford to provide all of its students with a digital computing device, new superintendent Ramon Cortines has decided.

That decision, shared with reporters Friday and affirmed in a subsequent statement, marks a major policy reversal for the country’s second-largest school district, which for nearly two years has been under constant scrutiny for its seemingly star-crossed effort to give iPads to 641,000 students, as well as staff and administrators.

Here’s the complete statement from Cortines:

As I have stated before publically, we are committed to providing technology to our children--whether it be desktop computer labs, laptops, or tablets-to help prepare them for the 21st century. However, as we are reviewing our lessons learned, 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. I do think we will need to identify alternative ongoing resources to fund the curriculum that is pre-loaded on some of the devices, which is of course why I believe that currently the district does not have sufficient funds to purchase and maintain technology in a 1:1 model. We must also consider the issue of replacing the devices, along with offering professional development to help teachers infuse technology into their class lessons. We must think and act for the long term.

Education Week first reported in November 2013 the problems associated with the Pearson digital curriculum that was intended to be included on all iPads given to LAUSD students and to become the district’s primary instructional resource. The curriculum, known as the Common Core System of Courses, was incomplete, and the district’s license to use it and access to updates was set to expire after three years.

Later, the district’s independent evaluator, the American Institutes for Research, concluded that the curriculum had gaping holes, was plagued by technical glitches, and was almost never used in the classroom.

Questions also arose about the LAUSD’s use of bond funds to pay for technology.

Problems with security and liability arose almost immediately after the first round of devices were deployed to schools.

And in December of last year, the FBI raided district headquarters, taking away 20 boxes of materials.

Former superintendent John Deasy, who led the iPads-for-all effort and described it as a civil-rights imperative, steadfastly defended the program. He resigned in October of last year.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.