Re "Hidden costs in iPad program," Nov. 20
The Los Angeles Unified School District's effort to give an Apple iPad to each student is a noble idea gone horribly wrong in its implementation. The latest snafu is the revelation that the educational software on those iPads will have to be renewed annually after the first three years, costing $60 million a year.
The confidence-destroying shame of this, in my view, is that the clock is already running on the three years despite the fact that the software is still a work in progress, not all the iPads have been distributed and administrators evidently hid the information about these costs from the school board and the public.
My conclusion: The taxpayers are being taken for a ride.
So, the software programs for the iPads will have to be paid for annually, a deal one district administrator compared to renewing a satellite radio subscription.
Meanwhile, cursive writing is being removed from the elementary school curriculum. No doubt instruction in printed handwriting won't be far behind.
Our future scholars will have to write on a keyboard. After they graduate, will they also have to annually update their word-processing software?
If this isn't a tech conspiracy, then it is just plain stupidity.
The challenges of the 21st century will require our young people to be equipped with and comfortable with technology. L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy is on point in wanting to provide some measure of technology and information equality.
But I have my doubts. In this month's issue of Scientific American, there is an article reporting evidence that reading content on paper can actually increase comprehension and retention better than reading the same content in digital media. It seems our Stone Age brains map and organize knowledge better working with the physical dimensions and weight of paper.
So while I am all for providing first-rate technology to our students, some degree of moderation seems prudent.
For my daughters, books were the only technology they could have alone. Both graduated high school with honors, and now they are earning new honors at top universities.
Not bad for a paper-preference home.
Michael L. Poe
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