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Los Angeles Unified School District iPad Fiasco

In case you hadn’t heard, the LAUSD decided last Spring to indulge in a $1,000,000,000 expenditure program designed to give out an iPad to each student in the District.  Despite numerous appeals by scientists and public health advocates highlighting the dangers for children associated with Wi-Fi and non-ionizing radiation exposure, the District marched ahead with an initial iPad pilot distribution this Fall to more than 2000 high school students in the District.

Apple and the kids seem to be the only players in this transaction that have profited.  Although security measures were installed to prevent “unauthorized” web access, the students quickly cracked through the security system and proceeded to play games, chat and Facebook their friends while using these devices.  This inevitable outcome seems to have come as a surprise only to the District officials.  When the schools then tried to confiscate and take back the iPads, a large number of them had already gone missing with little hope of being returned.

It is staggering to consider the lack of planning or foresight that went into this program.  It is unrealistic to ask kids not to play with “toys” if you distribute them.  School officials throughout the country can learn from this fiasco.  Firstly, iPads as learning and research tools, should only be deployed with specialized and monitored use.  Kids get hooked quickly on Wi-Fi devices and lose focus and interest in academic projects.  Let’s face it; it’s a lot more fun to play than it is to work.  Schools would save literally billions of dollars if they stuck to the basics in terms of learning tools:  Teachers, blackboards, books, pencils and paper.  The kids would be smarter and our schools districts richer!