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L.A. School District's 30,000 iPads May Come With Free Lock-In 232

Posted by timothy
from the crony-capitalism-in-its-native-habitat dept.
lpress writes "The Los Angeles Unified School District will spend $30 million over the next two years on iPads for 30,000 students. Coverage of the announcement has focused on Apple winning over other tablets, but that is not the key point. The top three proposals each included an app to deliver Pearson's K-12 Common Core System of Courses along with other third-party educational apps. The Common Core curriculum is not yet established, but many states are committed to it, starting next year. The new tablets and the new commitment to the Common Core curriculum will arrive around the same time, and busy faculty (and those hired to train them) will adopt the Pearson material. The tablets will be obsolete in a few years and the hardware platform may change, but lock-in to Pearson's default curriculum may last for generations."
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L.A. School District's 30,000 iPads May Come With Free Lock-In

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  • so 30000000 / 30000 = 1000$ per ipad? i take it they are ipad 1's pretty sad deal for the district.
    • Are you stupid? The $30 million is more than just for the iPads. It also encompasses staff hirings, training and support.

      • Not to mention the licensed content which is typically very expensive per seat. Think college book pricing. That's what schools pay already. Granted the books they buy have a multi year lifetime but this looks like a similar deal in the form of a subscription which will include updates.

        It's probably a better deal than we imagine.

    • by redback (15527)

      RTFA. $678 with a case and software. 16GB retina is 499, less with edu discount.

      what makes you think they would be getting a discontinued model?

      • by arbiter1 (1204146)
        Its a school, at best they are ipad 2's but best. they won't stick ipad 3 in students hands.
        • They might be 2s. They might be 3s. Or they might be minis. The article doesn't say, and there's no reason to conclude one way or the other from the given information.

          Apart from the included software, one reason they might cost more than retail is that Apple is covering them for broken, lost and stolen devices. Which presumably won't be insignificant for school kids.

    • Re:wait what? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by pushing-robot (1037830) on Saturday June 29, 2013 @09:24AM (#44141657)

      Read TFA. Of that $1000, $678 covers the iPad, the educational software, a case, a three year warranty, and free replacements from Apple for lost, stolen or broken units. The rest seems to be for setup, training and support. TCO is always going to be higher than the initial hardware cost, and this seems like a pretty good deal for what they're getting.

      Of course, in your infinite wisdom, I'm sure you'd just buy a shipping container full of $100 Chinese tablets, drop it on the school district's doorstep and say "You're all set!"

      • Of course, in your infinite wisdom, I'm sure you'd just buy a shipping container full of $100 Chinese tablets, drop it on the school district's doorstep and say "You're all set!"

        That actually might not be a bad idea. Just give each kid a tablet, and let them do what they want. I bet the kids can figure out the machines faster than the school's tech support people.

        • It's important to keep in mind that Slashdot, and most of the sites Slashdotters visit, tend to be echo chambers for technology geeks. Outside this bubble, however, most people (and even most kids) don't consider "self-taught computer genius" to be their goal in life.

          In other news: Farming message board posters outraged at cost of school lunches, think students should be given bag of seeds, hoe.

  • by horeton (82590) * on Saturday June 29, 2013 @09:06AM (#44141541) Homepage

    My son is in a year round STEM school in NC and their school uses a system based on android called Amplify http://www.amplify.com/ [amplify.com]. It isn't just an app it is a modified android tablet that allows students to participate as a collective in the individual classroom. Students can use the table to raise their hand, ask question and participate in classwork. Teachers use it to teach their curriculum and after a lesson can deploy a quick quiz so the teacher knows who understood the lesson and who may need additional help. Teachers can see what each student is doing on their tablet at any time with the master teacher's tablet. Each individual student has their own tablet and the tablets are locked down, always on with att 4G when off campus and students take the tablets home to do their homework on them. Their main responsibility is charging the tablet every night. It has been great over the last school year watching my son enjoy his curriculum in new ways using his tablet and the best part is really how well the tablet fits into the classroom and is replacing the tradition text book. The program was supposed to be only a 1 year test of the product but the school has asked to allow the 6th grade students to continue to use their tablets in 7th grade. Kudos to Amplify I hope all schools in this country will stop wasting money on promises and use something that I personally have already watched prove itself as a fantastic learning product for my 7th grader.

    • Fellow North Carolinian and parent here. Would you mind giving me the name of the school? I'd like to learn more about it.

    • Students can use the table to raise their hand, ask question and participate in classwork.

      No wonder obesity is so bad in this country.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Saturday June 29, 2013 @09:19AM (#44141627)

    ...and this is why our schools are failing.

    A local school was complaining that they'd have to lay off a bunch of teachers recently. Come to find out they'd also recently installed a $3000 digital whiteboard into every classroom. What the fuck is wrong with our schools? You're think teachers could do basic math. I understand that the boards can make the teacher more productive... but those boards are going to fail. Chalkboards and whiteboards don't. For what they spent on those boards they could have kept 4 or 5 teachers on staff. How many teachers could the school district hire for $30 million? I could understand if our school systems were flush with cash but they're not. Once class sizes are bellow 20 students and teachers stop protesting about their raises and benefits, maybe then we can think about giving the kids toys to play with?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tlambert (566799)

      ...and this is why our schools are failing.

      A local school was complaining that they'd have to lay off a bunch of teachers recently.

      They always complain about that. Then they send out pink slips. Then they don't lay anyone off. It's a scam by the teachers union, where your career path exits teaching and moves into administration so that you can make 2-3x the money while parents are forced to buy paper and pencils for their students.

      BTW, the student/teacher ratio is about 2X larger in Utah, and their SAT scores are in the top 10 of the nation, rather than in the bottom 10, as in California. So throwing money or teachers at it doesn't

      • Re:sad (Score:4, Funny)

        by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Saturday June 29, 2013 @09:43AM (#44141751)

        BTW, the student/teacher ratio is about 2X larger in Utah, and their SAT scores are in the top 10 of the nation, rather than in the bottom 10, as in California. So throwing money or teachers at it doesn't fix what's wrong with education in California.

        So what you're saying is... we need more Mormons in our educational system??

        • by rahvin112 (446269)

          My experience is Mormon parents are much more involved in their kids education than the general populace, and that's the difference. Average class sizes are around 32 kids per teacher. The teachers are some of the lowest paid in the nation and even things like textbooks go years without being updated. Education isn't something you can throw money at to fix, it's a parental responsibility issue.

      • That's a very silly claim. Yes, there are too many administrators. But attrition in teacher ranks is not being caused by teachers moving into administration. If there is a reduction in teacher numbers in a district, it's due to budget cuts. More typically teacher numbers are staying the same or increasing, but not at a rate that keeps up with increasing enrollments. I say this someone who teaches and who therefore really hates the increases in administrative overhead.
      • Wait. What?

        Cite source?

        According to this: http://www.statisticbrain.com/sat-score-statistics/ [statisticbrain.com] California is 34th, and Utah is 20th.

        Two things. First, the difference between California and Utah is only 146 points. Second, California is a pretty big state with a lot of socioeconomic disparity. More so than Utah.

        • Re: sad (Score:4, Informative)

          by tlambert (566799) on Saturday June 29, 2013 @01:49PM (#44143011)

          Wait. What?

          Cite source?

          http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/states/uschartsat.html [umkc.edu]
          http://www.publicagendaarchives.org/charts/state-state-sat-and-act-scores [publicagendaarchives.org] ...But even using your source, change it to "Utah is in the top 20, California is in the bottom 20".

          And I really don't care about cultural bias because college admissions boards don't really care about cultural bias, they care about SAT scores.

          And to get a reasonable picture, you should compare spending per capita by state:

          http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/compare_state_spending_2013b20s [usgovernmentspending.com]

          California spends more than 7 times what Utah spends, and gets a poorer result.

          But if you don't like Utah because you don't like mormons, pick another state higher up in the second table, and compare it to California; California is only going to look worse.

    • by melikamp (631205)
      And while we are at it, may be we can give our kids cheaper toys, running a full-featured free software OS and free educational software, which the kids can study. Using non-free software to educate (really, to program) the students is a clear sign of corruption. I suspect a traditional kind of corruption, when inferior, overpriced products are adapted in exchange for some kind of kickback. And for sure, there is a corruption of the pedagogical ideal here. What can a black box really teach a student? "Never
    • You realize the textbooks schools buy are probably more expensive than the iPads, right? And quicker to go out of date?

      This actually seems like a money saver to me.

  • Is the famous USA educational system becoming the pinnacle of consumerism? Where pupils need only to consume hi-calorie concentrate food canned in hi-tech tablets and evaluated only by pressing their fat fingers on multiple choice questions check-boxes?

    "Question 1: The rectangular machine you have in your hand at this very moment and reading this question on is:
    a) a tablet
    b) a computer
    c) a calculator
    d) a PC
    e) an iPad"

  • PEARSON (Score:4, Insightful)

    by supercrisp (936036) on Saturday June 29, 2013 @10:09AM (#44141883)
    I'm not seeing posts here addressing the more serious issue, which is the lock-in to Pearson. I know people who work at Pearson, and they do have an intentional policy of moving into schools, taking over curricula, evaluation, and eventually eliminating teacher jobs. I think that it's good to have plenty of teachers, fewer students per teacher, and I'm skeptical about the value of the new shiny, whether it's a gadget or some theory of fixing everything cheaply, but--by far--the more worrying concern is allowing a single corporation have such a large sway over public education. Especially as, in my opinion, Pearson provides some of the shittier textbooks out there. And that's saying something, given the general shittiness of textbooks.
    • by jbolden (176878)

      The market for textbooks is profitable and competitive. School districts individually have the ability to purchase texts. There are just under 100k school districts. By going to electronic texts all sorts of less expensive texts become economically viable.

      I'm having a hard time seeing how exactly is this a threat that Pearson establishes a long run monopoly without them hugely outperforming competitors.

      I think most textbooks are terrible until college. But that's the school district's fault not Pearson'

  • How can adopting a particular curriculum lock in students for "generations"? School districts / states can, and do, make curriculum changes All. The. Time.

  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Saturday June 29, 2013 @10:34AM (#44142009)

    Of course, what is missing and hard to find about the Common Core Standards is they were started by the government (state governors association, I believe) to standardize curriculums and teaching methods accross the states with one of their key reasons being to hold down education costs. That has since been removed from the website, but the CCS was not about improving educational standards but cost containment.

    How will they do that? Pay teachers less and pay Pearsons more. You want to improve education in America? Find out how the 1% educate their kids. It won't be cheap, but you do get what you pay for.

    • by UBfusion (1303959)

      If it was possible to "standardize curricula" based on "state of the art" educational principles in order to minimize "costs", it would have already have been done 50 years ago, not only across US states, but across countries and continents too.

      If you come to think about it, the Sciences (Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry, Biology, Maths, Geology, etc) are universal. The only differentiating subjects are language and to an extent, history. So the globalization, standardization and "canning" of knowledge to teac

  • by The Second Horseman (121958) on Saturday June 29, 2013 @10:35AM (#44142021)

    Forget the iPads - Pearson, and these other parasites are going to do more to cripple education in this country than anything else. Private profits from the public taxpayer's dime, they're going to be unaccountable. We'll certainly blame the teachers when this canned curriculum crashes and burns, but Pearson and their ilk? They'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

    You know what's worse than government? Government contractors and suppliers.

    • by jbolden (176878)

      Private profits from the public taxpayer's dime,

      Yeah. That's what government spending usually looks like. Our government buys services from the same market consumers and business do which is mostly private business. The alternative would be the government runs most industry almost completely communist state.

  • That's a refreshing $1,000 a pop.

    Wasn't "high volume purchase" meant to work the other way, originally?

    Did I just miss another great innovation by Pearson and Apple, along the lines of
    "The more you buy, the higher the per-item price"?

    Not to mention the fact that iPads are, by design, nearly non-repairable. What a bad idea to give such an example of non-sustainability to young people these days.

    Not to mention that an all purpose computing platform, like a netbook, with a choice of OSes and application softwa

    • software and books cost add up as well.

    • by BonThomme (239873)

      if it's Apple, it's patented...

      A method and system whereby purchasing in larger quantities increases your unit cost...

    • That's a refreshing $1,000 a pop.

      Wasn't "high volume purchase" meant to work the other way, originally?

      They don't pay $1,000 for each iPad. They pay $678 for an iPad with five your warranty AND insurance, with tons of educational software. And then there is other cost related to this purchases, like training and so on, probably charging stations, something to look the iPads away when not used and so on. TCO is more than purchase price.

      • netbooks are $200 and less in quantity.

        they have keyboards. they are not owned and operated by one corporation who thrives on restricting your rights.

        anything apple for school is just plain WRONG. we've seen enough about apple corp. why would we think its ok to start (continue?) the brainwashing of kids, just because the dumb adults love Teh Shiney(tm) ?

        a pc (even with MS sw installed) has much more freedom than anything apple puts out. if you choose to waste your money on apple products, that's up to y

  • and it's incredibly frustrating. I'm a bright guy and I can help her with her homework, but I don't remember everything from high school physics or algebra/trig. And with humanities and the Arts there's often a 'right' answer from the teaching materials.

    I used to wonder why this stuff wasn't online until I saw the profits those textbook companies make. Stupid capitalism.
  • Corporate greed and corruption at it's finest, and all done in the name of "for the education of our kids".

    Shame on Apple. Shame on Pearson. And shame on the people who got paid off for this at LA Unified.
    • by UBfusion (1303959)

      It's not a shame to be greedy and to want to make money. That's our religion after all (capitalism). It's a shame, maybe even a crime, to do it by exploiting children's thirst for knowledge.

  • I think Pearson hopes schools do not adopt texts which are not available on the iPad. LAUSD will be paying for new editions of the same virtual books in perpetuity. This is corporate welfare at its finest.
  • There are $100 tablets that kick the crap out of an iPad on portability and compatibility and battery life. There are even more $200 ones. The Samsung Tab 2, Avatar's about to be released new tablets, most of the AGPTek ones, some iView models all crush the ipad on useability and features vs price. I can't see why a school district would waste money on such a locked down, overpriced tablet like an iPad.
    • by jbolden (176878)

      There are no $100 laptops that are even close. I doubt even granting a way slower system with a much worse screen and camera you can get both portability (weight) and battery life higher at the same screen size for $100.

      Let's take your iView 7" model Definitely cheap. We'll compare to the iPad mini
      512M ram vs. 1g
      4g storage vs 16-64g
      800x480 vs. 1024x768
      Back 2MP webcam and front 0.3MP webcam vs 5MP/1.2MP with a much better lens
      2.1 lbs vs. .68 lbs (so much for better portability)

      Those two products are just

  • The iPad is for the wow effect for the kids to want to learn about common core. A propoganda program.
  • ... my wife is a teacher and her high school decided all teachers must have and use iPads. She teaches horticulture and the apps in the Apple store are all for preschoolers, maybe grade 3 max. She found one or two BBC interactive documentaries with David Attenborough but that's it. Everything else is babysitting software.

    Almost (not total) waste of money, and they're laying off teachers because they don't have enough funds.

    Training for the iPads? Two two-hour sessions for the staff. That's it.

    I second the t

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