Los Angeles Unified School Disrtict Board: We spent $1 billion to give every student an I-Pad and the program was a disaster.  Dang!  What do we do now?  I know!  Let’s give every student a laptop!  Now we’re talkin!

This falls under the headings of “never expect a bureaucrat to understand the real world” and “no idea is stupid if it’s for the children”.  Yes, the LAUSD spent a billion dollars to hand out I-Pads as a “homework aid” for the children.  What could go wrong?  Firewalls were installed to keep those krazy kidz off of the social networking and porn sites.  The kids would be using these strictly for doing their calculus, physics and chemistry homework.  I mean what’s the difference between some schmendrick on the street and a rocket scientist?  Well, the rocket scientist gots a computer.  So let’s give all the kids computers and they’ll be rocket scientists.  This education thing isn’t so hard after all!  Well, what could go wrong did go wrong.  When most of the I-Pads were broken, lost or stolen the district policy was sufficiently vague as to relieve the students or their parents of responsibility.  As far as the firewalls, it was a simple matter for the middle and high schoolers to recruit some third graders to disable those.


Now chastened, the LAUSD is assessing what went wrong and how to move forward, and they have decided that what went wrong was a “one device fits all” approach.

“Why would we treat all our students — whether they are a first-grader or a high school freshman — as if they all had the same technology needs? They don’t…. To have a one-device-fits-all approach does not make sense.”, said LAUSD Board Member Monica Ratliff.  

Obviously that was the problem.  The fact that a single device was used district wide made it simple to lose, destroy or steal them.  Allowing schools to choose from 6 different models of laptops will take care of that.  Problem solved.  Heckuva job, Monica!  You can’t expect all the kids to be able to use the same device, can you?  That’s just kooky.  They need choices.  Like in the real world when you go to work in an office and the first thing they do is let you choose what kind of computer you want…Oh wait.

Initial funding for the I-Pad program came from a bond measure which all Californians recognize as “free money” and therefore impossible to waste.  The source of additional funding is unclear, but why not just pass another bond measure?  Or pick it from trees?  Better yet…I hear North Korea is printing some fine facsimile US currency these days.

May I make a suggestion?  What went wrong was not a “one device fits all” approach, it was an “any device at all fits” approach.  The idea that a first grader, or any elementary school student needs a laptop or I-Pad to learn their lessons is ludicrous on it’s face and a colossal waste of allegedly scarce education funds.  I think you could make an argument that high schoolers need have access to computers at school so they have the opportunity to learn to use the computer as a tool.  It’s not the I-Pad or laptop that makes one smart.  It is a tool, like a pencil is a tool, and  a piece of paper is a tool.  The kids need to learn to work the computer that drives that pencil and paper – that’s the one between their ears.  If they can’t work that one, all the computers in the world aren’t going to help.