LA Spends $30 Million of Taxpayer Dollars on iPads

Posted by · June 20, 2013 11:24 am
via flickingerbrad on flickr

via flickingerbrad on flickr

Apple signed a deal with the Los Angeles Unified School District to supply students with $30 million in iPads. The deal is part of the school board’s plan to have tablets in every student’s hands in the next few years. The district serves 655,000+ students, the second largest school district in the US.

The board unanimously approved the plan, which will roll out thousands of devices to 47 campuses. Two members of the board declined to participate in the vote for the iPads because they own stock in Apple.

“iPad rated the best in quality, was the least expensive option and received the highest scoring by the review panel that included students and teachers,” said Jaime Aquino, LAUSD Deputy Superintendent of Instruction in the Apple press release.

The LA Times noted that the teachers’ union representative suggested the money be spent on bringing back teachers that were laid off in recent years. But the school board feels the priority is getting computers in schools to get ready for standardized testing. Who needs teachers when you’ve got iPads?

At $678 per device, the district is paying a questionably higher price point than retail, which is $499. The tablets do come with pre-loaded “educational software”, iWork, iLife, and a case.

Apple no doubt considers this a huge win beyond reaping the $30 million sale.  As the board rolls out new technology to all schools, they will continue to purchase iPads from Apple. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of students will likely be entrenched in Apple software, as opposed to using Microsoft Office suite.

The district put all their eggs in one basket moving forward with the iPads so there would be seamless integration and a fair balance among all the students using the new tools. If they had chosen multiple brands and models, the board argued, some students would get an inferior experience. But will the be able to afford thousands more iPads in the future?

A small study in Maine last year showed that students who used tablets in the classroom scored higher on literacy tests and were more enthusiastic about education. A small study by me showed that people in LA love having shiny toys to show off.