Education

LA schools give every kid an iPad—what could go wrong?

Step 1: Give every student in the Los Angeles public schools district an iPad.

Step 2: ???

Step 3: Profit?

Unfortunately for administrators at LA Unified School District, Step 2 has involved at least 71 kids losing the iPads they were given by the city of Los Angeles as part of a pilot program aimed at eventually supplying all district kids with the snazzy, shiny devices.

Another 300 students figured out how to rig the security settings on their iPads to visit unauthorized social media websites. This prompted administrators to ban students from using the iPads while they are at home, away from school supervision — at least partly defeating the point of having the devices, which are intended as supplemental learning tools.

When an iPad is lost, damaged or stolen, who pays the cost? That’s what parents and school board leaders are wondering.

“It’s extremely disconcerting that the parent and student responsibility issue has not been hammered out, and that different parents and students received different information during the rollout,” said Monica Ratliff, a member of the district’s board of education, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Each iPad costs $700.

Different parents and students at different schools were apparently given contradictory information regarding who was responsible for the financial cost of a missing iPad.

If the students are on the hook, that may pose a problem for low-income families that constitute a large part of the Los Angeles school system.

“Are we really going to be in a position of taking their textbook away?” asked Ratliff, who noted that the iPads were meant to replace traditional textbooks.

Nevertheless, the LA school district plans to spend $1 billion expanding the iPad program to all schools in the next year.

But whether the devices will prove to be a legitimate teaching tool or expensive, troublesome gimmick remains to be seen.

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