L.A. Unified’s high-tech train wreck

A student at Broadacres Elementary School in Carson, part of the Los Angeles Unified School District, experiments with his district-provided iPad's camera.
(Bob Chamberlin / Associated Press)
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Leveling the technological playing field by giving all students — rich and poor alike — in the Los Angeles Unified School District an Apple iPad is a good thing, right?

It isn’t so simple, readers are saying.

This week, The Times reported that some of the 47,000 who have received iPads so far have figured out how to disable their tablets’ Internet firewall, allowing them to roam the Web for less-than-educational content. It was also reported that the district hadn’t decided if parents or taxpayers would pay for accidentally lost or damaged iPads.

The several dozen readers who sent us letters have been unsparing in their criticism of the district. The reactions range from apoplectic (stunned and angered that L.A. Unified didn’t work out these details) to snarky. As of Friday, no readers have said anything positive about the district’s iPad rollout.


Here is a selection of those letters.

— Paul Thornton, letters editor

West Hills resident Teresa Nield says teachers saw this coming:

“Any classroom teacher will tell you that students will damage school supplies and equipment. These are children, after all.

“The district insists on feeding every elementary school student a free breakfast, desired or not, and throwing away the food that is uneaten. Officials contend that parents either cannot or will not feed their children breakfast. Why would they assume that parents would properly supervise the use and pay for any damage that occurs with an iPad?

“First, the school board must stop making expensive decisions based on advice from people who do not understand the classroom. Next, there should be a full public accounting of the history of purchase of these iPads. The taxpayers and the children they want to educate deserve to have the money spent effectively.”

Ed Kaz of Oak Park makes the same point in one line:


“The district is also reporting that kindergarten students are breaking pencils and middle school students are refusing to eat their vegetables.”

Cypress resident John Jung has a lesson plan for district officials:

“So L.A. Unified is trying to lock the barn door after the horse has been taken.

“First, the district didn’t realize it would need to buy keyboards for the iPads. Then, it didn’t foresee that some students would hack the tablets to use them for unauthorized Web surfing. Then it realized that some iPads will get broken or stolen, and now officials don’t know if they can make the parents pay for the costs.

“It’s time that L.A. Unified’s top officials went back to school themselves.”

S.R. Fischer of Los Angeles rethinks his generosity as a voter:

“It will be a very cold day in hell the next time I vote to increase my taxes to pay for any more school bonds, which the district is using to pay for the iPads. I don’t understand how such

ineptness is now regrettably accepted as the new status quo.”



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