Devices & Policy

Los Angeles Unified Reverses 1-to-1 Direction

Los Angeles Unified School District is backing away from its much-publicized 1-to-1 program. In comments to reporters last week, Superintendent Ramon Cortines said he doesn't "believe the district has the funds to pay for technology for every student."

The $1.3 billion Apple iPad and Pearson curriculum program heralded by Cortines' predecessor John Deasy was put on hold in August last year, even as the district later continued with the purchases of student computing devices under a different contract. According to reporting by the Los Angeles Times, the district has purchased 120,000 iPads and 18,000 laptops, enabling LAUSD to be ready for the Smarter Balanced online assessments adopted by California.

Cortines emphasized that the district is "committed to providing technology" to students in whatever form that takes, "whether it be desktop computer labs, laptops or tablets." The district funded the massive purchase with school construction bonds, a prioritization that has apparently shifted. "As we are reviewing our lessons learned, there must be a balanced approach to spending bond dollars to buy technology when there are so many brick and mortar and other critical facility needs that must be met," he noted in a statement.

Another challenge is coming up with "alternative ongoing resources to fund the curriculum" pre-loaded on some of the devices. That curriculum came from Pearson, which acted as a sub-contractor with Apple in the sizable iPad agreement with the district.

Also, said Cortines, the district needs to figure out how to refresh devices and obtain professional development for educators to help them "infuse technology" into their instructional practices. "We must think and act for the long term," he noted.

As the Los Angeles Times reported, the problems with the iPad project have become a major issue in school board elections, which will be held on March 3. Challengers are "faulting the incumbents" for approving of the "flawed" initiative.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.