St. Paul schools rolls out Apple iPads to nearly 40,000 students

“The St. Paul School District will roll out an iPad initiative this fall that is the largest ever for a state school system — and as the label on the back of each device makes clear, many people have a stake in it,” Anthony Lonetree reports for The Star Tribune. “‘Provided by taxpayers of St. Paul for students of St. Paul public schools,’ the tag reads.”

“Just three months ago, the district, wrestling with how best to use technology to tailor learning to individual student needs, abruptly ditched a strategy it had sold to voters in 2012 and decided instead to put iPads in the hands of its nearly 40,000 students,” Lonetree reports. “‘This will be a great year of exploration,’ said Superintendent Valeria Silva of the work and the risks ahead. Diane Smith, a fifth-grade teacher at Hamline Elementary, already has seen such an adventure pay off. Last school year, Hamline Elementary, armed with a $50,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation, made iPads available to all students in grades two through five. Nearly nine of 10 students at the school qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, according to state Department of Education data. At first, Smith’s class was locked into math apps. Then the students found the means to give full flower to their own ideas, and the learning took off. Tri-fold displays, the staple of science fairs and history days, soon gave way to iPad creations.”

“For about a year, the district has worked to improve its technology infrastructure, according to Katie Wilcox-Harris, assistant superintendent of personalized learning, and is now ‘absolutely confident’ it can support the influx of the new devices. Teachers are in the midst of completing nine hours of professional development training,” Lonetree reports “In June, the school board approved a $5.72 million lease arrangement with Apple Inc. that will climb to about $8 million annually in 2015-16, when the iPad project is in full operation at 61 school sites. The district has possession of 27,760 iPads and 1,385 MacBook laptops, with the bulk being stored for now in a warehouse with upgraded security. Students will begin receiving their iPads one school at a time during the third week of October.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Today is a tale of two school systems. St. Paul School District vs. Los Angeles Unified Schools.

Our bet is that, with Apple’s revolutionary iPad, St. Paul students and teachers thrive while Los Angeles students and teachers struggle mightily due to poor planning and meddlesome mistakes by confused administrators and other assorted clueless busybodies.

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    1. Apple replaces the new iPads with the old in a year or two, depending on their contract. Then they take away the old for resale. How could they resell it when it is inscribed, Moron

  1. I hope they succeed and turns out a good use of tax payer money. However, these large scale deployments often fail or at last never meet expectations. Apple was visionary when seeding schools with Apple II’s way back when. Perhaps the same unfolds here, I just wish that less tax payer money was being used on unproven scale such as this.

  2. As a St. Paul taxpayer with 3 kids in the school system, I am very curious to see how this new program works out. My oldest (6th grade) will be taking her’s home with her each day. My next oldest (4th grade) will be using it at school and leaving it there, and the youngest’s school will not receive their’s until next year.

    Interesting times ahead, that’s for sure…………

  3. As a parent of a St. Paul student, I’m concerned that they are rolling this out without enough training and planning time. As of last year, St. Paul was partnering with Dell, who couldn’t deliver what the district needed. Suddenly they’ve switched gears without much forethought as to what the teachers will actually be doing with the iPads.

    By the way, I applied at Apple to be one of the instructional designers/trainers working with the staff at St. Paul. The position wasn’t posted until late July, which is kind of scary.

  4. Just read the source article.. I wonder if there are going to be legal repercussions to the decision based on the following portion of the source article..

    “In May, Silva announced the district was changing course on a $9-million-per-year voter-approved initiative, “Personalized Learning Through Technology.” Cast aside were the original plans for a Facebook-like Web page through which teachers and students could interact.

    Embraced, instead, was the one-to-one iPad initiative — just the kind of device-laden plan that voters had been told would not be pursued”

  5. “Nearly nine of 10 students at the school qualify for free or reduced-price lunches”

    90% of the students at one school are on a lunch program. That means there are thousands of students in the St Paul district who go hungry on the weekends and during the summer. While I really like the idea of expanding teaching to include technology (especially iPads), I wish the district could have spent some of that $5.72M on the more basic needs of the students.

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