It has been a year since Los Angeles Unified schools Supt. John Deasy proposed putting a tablet computer in the hands of every student in the district. At that time, there were numerous questions about how and whether this would work. Could first-graders really take care of such expensive equipment? Who would be held responsible if one of the devices was stolen, lost or broken, or if apple juice was dripped into the circuitry? How would the district keep high-schoolers off porn sites? And how much would all this cost?
Deasy said these details would be worked out before any decisions were made. But all we know for sure a year later is the price tag: a whopping $1 billion to provide more than 600,000 students and their teachers with top-of-the-line, software-equipped iPads at $678 each, plus the necessary Wi-Fi in the schools. The district has forged ahead — 47,000 students have received iPads already, with a much bigger purchase planned soon — yet vital issues remain inadequately addressed.
Still unclear, for example, is who pays for accidental loss or damage to the iPads. Under the district's contract, Apple will replace up to 5% of the devices for free. After that, the district is on its own. Parents at different schools have been given different information about whether they would have to cover the cost, and Deasy said he's still trying to figure this out. Isn't this something he should have done before any iPads were purchased?
The district also is coming to terms with how quickly its students disabled the firewall on their tablets to gain broad access to the Internet when they're not on campus. There are potential liability and safety issues at stake — if, for example, a student were to make contact with a sexual predator on a school-issued
There's also the matter of keyboards. Apparently the district hadn't foreseen that it might need to purchase them as well, at a so-far unknown cost.