By ELIZABETH HSING-HUEI CHOU
City News Service
The superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District said today district officials are holding fast to a $1 billion plan to provide students with iPads, despite objections that money from a construction bond should not be used to fund the effort.
Since a rocky rollout at 47 schools last fall, the plan to equip every LAUSD student with iPads has come under fire from critics over its cost and effectiveness.
Some parents, teachers and students planned an afternoon rally to protest the school board's decision last month to continue using construction bond funds to buy up to 67,500 iPads for phase two of the program.
Each iPad in the first phase cost about $768.
Superintendent John Deasy told the Los Angeles City Council during a “State of the Schools” presentation that the construction bond's oversight committee “is very clear,” as is the school board, in continuing to support the iPad program.
Deasy said the district is “completely not confused about our mission, and that is to provide all 800,000 the same opportunity that some have without our support.”
“I think it's a good thing to give youth in poverty technology,” he said. “I never understood the controversy about the moral obligation that youth should have access to technology and curriculum regardless of where they live.”
“Please note there is no paper and pencil test anymore at the state,” he added. “You must have a device, or you can't take your state test any longer.”
Schools nationwide are required to switch to educational standards called Common Core, which calls for testing to be done on computer.
The 15-member LAUSD School Construction Bond Citizens' Oversight Committee, which includes appointees of the Los Angeles mayor and city controller, “does not see a problem with using construction bond funds for computing devices,” Tom Rubin, the panel's consultant and spokesman.
The committee made a recommendation to the school board “that bond funds be used for ... the Common Core Technology Project, which includes buying iPads, laptops, installing WiFi in all the classrooms, et cetera,” Rubin said.
A Facebook page with 3,675 likes called “Repairs Not IPads,” started by two adult education teachers, has been collecting pictures of deteriorating school facilities since December, contending that funds should be used to fix aging schools, not buying iPads.
“People are upset,” said Matthew Kogan, a co-creator of the Facebook page. “Voters voted clearly for a construction repair bond, and we're shocked Superintendent Deasy is even able to loot that fund.
“Everything is being cut to the bone for iPads ... for this vanity project, this headline-grabbing project for the superintendent,” he said.