L.A. Unified School District suspends Apple iPad contract

“L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy suspended future use of a contract with Apple on Monday that was to provide iPads to all students in the nation’s second-largest school system amid mounting scrutiny of the $1-billion-plus effort,” Howard Blume reports for The Los Angeles Times.

“The suspension comes days after disclosures that the superintendent and his top deputy had especially close ties to executives of Apple, maker of the iPad, and Pearson, the company that is providing the curriculum on the devices. And an internal report that examined the technology effort showed major problems with the process and the implementation,” Blume reports. “‘Moving forward, we will no longer utilize our current contract with Apple Inc.,’ Deasy wrote in a memo sent to the Board of Education on Monday. Deasy, who has been the main proponent of providing the iPads throughout the district and who has defended the project repeatedly, was coming under mounting criticism for his handling of the contract and for the implementation of the program.”

“The rollout was troubled from the beginning, and critics also found fault with the process that led to the selection of Apple as the lead contractor and Pearson as its main collaborator,” Blume reports. “Under the recently expanded approach, 18,000 laptops are being purchased. Deasy wrote that he expects Apple and Pearson to be among the bidders in the new process.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Rolling clusterfsck.

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    1. Like it’s unusual & conspiratorial for there to be a link between a Superintendent of Schools and Apple’s Education Division? Looks like some Winblows IT Dufus types are caught up in the mix. My granddaughter here in L.A. was promised an iPad that never arrived due to gross implementation incompetence. Therein was where the real problem lie. Other school districts seem to have no trouble implementing but the LAUSD are a bunch of bungling fools.

    2. What in the world is any school district using taxpayers funds to buy iPads for young kids who shouldn’t even own cellphones. Everyone must be “entitled” to iPads, cable tv, a home, a car, and healthcare paid by others in this new world order, huh.

  1. I’m thinking they want to buy those cheap ChromeBooks. Google splashed out some money. All Google wants is displaying advertisements during class and having info about all pupils.

    1. Of course, the Chromebooks would win because they’re the cheapest devices of all. It’s the Windows netbook all over again. Being considered a great platform based on low price. The L.A. BoE will seemingly get the biggest bang for the buck because their money will go that much further when it comes to the upfront hardware cost. That’s how it is, the lowest bid gets the deal. I don’t know the particular needs of those schools and maybe those Chromebooks will be more suitable as far as everyone is concerned. Even if the Chromebooks don’t suit them, it doesn’t matter as long as Apple doesn’t get the deal.

        1. My children’s school started a “one-to-one” programme two years ago (each pupil in grades 5 – 12 gets a laptop). A 9-member panel evaluated solutions based on Chrome, MS Windows and Mac OS. In a 12-page document, they provided clearly and elaborately explained argumentation for dismissing Chrome (practically no usable software for education, and almost nothing works locally, not to mention unacceptable level of privacy), and choosing Mac OS and MBA as the platform and the hardware of choice. The arguments were extremely powerful and persuasive (the board had 4 die-hard Windows experts!), so they bought almost a thousand MBAs for all kids and teachers.

          I’m not sure what kind of reasoning this board demonstrated for this purchase, but if they are under such close scrutiny, they may want to contact my kids’ school for a bullet-proof justification. There is no platform that their choice was rock-solid, but it seems that they just don’t know how to defend it properly.

            1. Unfortunately not. It is a private school in New York, and this was only shared with the school’s Parents Association. I got a chance to go through it a few years ago, but I don’t know if I could get to it now, or where to look.

  2. Neilsons study shows a significantly slower reading speed compared to standard print books, slower speed for the money, a book would be better for etching children how to read efficiently and curbing stupid spending

    1. I have to question those results. I’ve personally never understood people’s complaints about reading from computer displays. I’ve done it every day for over two decades now and enjoy it. I ALSO read books on paper, more than most people I know. I seriously don’t distinguish between the two media methods. I just want to read.

      I’ll also point out that, like it or not, reading from displays in the future. Killing trees to make paper for ink impressions that are then shipped to the reader is not the future. Much as I love a good, beautifully designed and printed weighty book in my hands, that’s going away. Therefore, prepare the kids for THE FUTURE, not the past.

  3. Typical Tim a Cook misfire. He is about to set Apple on a downward slide similar to the one felt in the late ’90’s. Still room for huge profits in the next few quarters but then the pain will start to set in.

      1. Historically: The Apple slide began with the hiring of Sculley. The stagnation became evident as of Mac OS 7.5, released in 1994, the worst single release of Mac OS ever. That nightmare coincided with the breakdown of the Copland/Gershwin OS project. The culmination of this period was the self-destructive marketing organization act of ordering so many UNwanted Performa Macs that $1 Billion worth of them were rotting in Apple warehouses by the end of 1996. The financial debacle that followed was specifically caused by this idiotic marketing move, the culmination of Apple’s Marketing-As-Management decline.

        After 1996 was what amounts to a long period of revitalization and recovery. The red ink was certainly well publicized in the news, but the fact is that once Apple bought NeXT, they were back on track again and destined to do well. They’d wiped out the Marketing-As-Management insanity and returned to being entrepreneurial again.

        [My usual lecture on the subject in abbreviated form]

    1. Jim, are you some sort of masochist?
      I fail to understand the mental pathology of people who continually write contrary points of view to the given subject matter of a blog or website, trolling, in other words.
      It’s such an utter waste of everybody’s time, so why don’t you do us all a favour, and kindly fuck off.

  4. Technology scales, but only if you have a plan.

    Start with your goals. Digital textbooks? Content filtering? Ability for students to purchase their own apps or not?

    Once you define these goals, you engineer them (JAMF Casper Suite would’ve been an excellent choice).

    Then you implement it. You inform your staff and students of what they can and cannot do with their devices, thereby setting expectations.

    Each year, you tweak the plan.

    I sense that in this case, there was absolutely no planning. I don’t care if it’s a deployment of 10 iPads or 100,000 — if you do not have a plan it will fail.

  5. The reason there are failures of technology in schools is not because of tech. Even districts that have proven rollout and implementation plans can fail. It’s because teaching and learning as implemented in schools has not caught up with tech. When teachers put signs on their doors saying, “no laptops today,” it’s an indication that the teacher has become a successful “traditional” teacher within the traditional school system. And of course when kids became teachers, they teach the way they were taught. And what are university teacher prep programs doing to change this? I admit there’s a time and place for all educational tools. Until using tech to teach and learn becomes as integrated as a pencil, textbook, and lecture, districts will continue to struggle.

  6. While I’d love to see iPads in use in schools, the LAUSD is the worst possible organization to do this in. I knew they’d bitten off more than they could chew. At best a pilot program should have been created with one or two schools to see if this was a good idea. It seemed like a horrible idea to me. iPads are expensive, relatively easy to break, and they make the children a target for thieves, bullies, and other miscreants. There were rumors of a whole system for selling the iPads springing up with local criminals as soon as the program was announced.

    LAUSD is the size of a small city with an IT infrastructure that is not consistent across campuses. They have other more pressing needs. They were trying to fly here when they needed to walk first. Also I’m not convinced that iPads are the best tool for this. It seems like ChromeBooks make more sense. Now don’t shoot the messenger here, but ChromeBooks are way cheap compared to iPads, they are not appealing to thieves, and cranking out educational software that runs on the Google back end is much easier. They’re easier to control, MDM is aided by the fact that they’re dependent on Google to operate as well.

  7. I just want to point out that this debacle indicates:

    1) The best possible choice of technology for the children.
    2) Worthless IT support. Apple supplies for free all the tools required to LOCK DOWN the iPads. There is no question of this being the case, no matter what blahblah is being spewed.
    3) Someone or other there has it in for Apple gear. Nothing new there. I see such ignorance every day.
    4) The school is excelling at WASTING MONEY. It’s incredible that they ‘suspend’ their contract with Apple knowing full well they must fulfill their end of the contract, which equates to WASTING MONEY.

    Lots of contention over what was the best possible choice of technology. And who gets hurts the worst? The children of course.

    Grow Up, Adults!

    1. I stand corrected. It was a conditional contract:

      The contract was administered in phases with an initial $30-million investment to equip a pilot group of students with iPads. Additional payments totaling almost $1 billion would expand the project to additional students and build out the wireless infrastructure to support tablet usage at the district’s schools. Each phase was subject to approval with the option of canceling the project if it no longer met the district’s needs.

      A mere $30 MILLION blown due to incompetence in LAUSD.

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