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LAUSD iPad fiasco a distraction from real issues

LAUSD iPad fiasco a distraction from real issues
An LAUSD student explores her district-issued iPad. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: It is astonishing that it has taken this long for the "fervor and fury" over the Los Angeles Unified School District's iPad debacle to emerge. ("Supt. Deasy's early and avid support of iPads under intense scrutiny," Sept. 4)

The shiny devices started rolling into the district before our children and educators could brush themselves off from the devastating effects of the recession. At the time of their rollout, schools in even the wealthier neighborhoods of the district were not getting their most basic needs met: Janitorial services were intermittent at best, school nurses were scheduled once or twice a week, libraries were shut down and construction paper became a prized possession.

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Oh, and let's not forget the minor issues of teacher layoffs and class sizes.

Let's ensure that our children and teachers have their basic needs met before the district goes on another shopping spree that wastes precious resources and hurts the very students it was supposed to help.

Rebecca Rubin, Sherman Oaks

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To the editor: The furor over tablets in L.A. Unified has focused on the brand chosen. But the prior decision to divert major funding to computing was equally flawed — or more so.

First, classrooms urgently need upgrades. We will not prepare students for modern work by placing them at decaying desks and chairs in cheap, "temporary" bungalows. It is shameful (and a betrayal of voters' intent) that funds designated for construction were diverted to electronics.

More important, computer literacy cannot replace the need for literacy in the most basic sense. Computing is important. But reading must come first. It is and will remain the essential job skill.

Only when our students can read and write should we offer an apple to the teacher.

Richard and Carole Stein, Los Angeles

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To the editor: After reading the front-page article, I was astonished to see the headline, "Deasy under union attack over iPads," in the LATEXTRA section.

Since when is it an "attack" to point out the gross inconsistencies between the way teachers and administrators are treated when accused of improprieties?

The Times itself points out that more than $1.3 billion is at stake here. Shouldn't The Times support a teacher's proposal to insist that those who may have wasted taxpayers' money step aside so an objective investigation can take place?

Dennis M. Clausen, Escondido

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To the editor: Missing from the iPad debacle is actual usage in the classroom.

High school students are notorious for not bringing their textbooks to class. If half the class is without an iPad, what lesson do I teach?

Alternatively, perhaps teachers could store the iPads in the classroom. But if I do that, it will take up to 20 minutes of each 53-minute class to pass out and collect the iPads while checking serial numbers with student names.

These iPads remind me of Hula Hoops and the tinny-sounding transistor radios of the 1950s: They are a lot of fun to play with but have little real value.

Bob Munson, Newbury Park

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To the editor: The estimated cost of the iPad program is about $1.3 billion. An experienced L.A. Unified teacher with a master's degree can expect to make about $60,000 a year. So, for the price of the iPad program, several thousand teachers could be hired.

Mark Stephen Mrotek, Carson

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