Mixer: School’s in, iPads out

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MixerBannerThe Los Angeles Unified School District has scrapped the $1 (B) billion effort to provide all students and teachers with iPad tablets and laptops.

Embattled Superintendent John Deasy says he wants to gather new bids for future phases of the program.

Which is spin for this plan isn’t working.

The change comes in light of alleged improprieties in the awarding of the original contracts with Apple and education publisher Pearson.

So we ask this question: On this first full week of school in L.A., what’s the message coming from the head of the class?

Joe Mathews is California Columnist for Zocalo Public Square and Howard Blume is education reporter for the Los Angeles Times, and both have been covering this story through its enlightening iterations.

This iPad turnabout came right after some investigating from Howard and the team at the L.A. Times, and from our public radio friends in Pasadena.

Emails and documents that were leaked showing Deasy and his former chief deputy had been discussing the program with executives from Apple and education services company Pearson at least two years before the bidding process officially ended and contracts were approved.

Deasy said he did nothing wrong and that the emails were part of an earlier pilot program.

A few thoughts:

-I was always struck at how much LAUSD was having to pay for these iPads each… something like 700 bucks or more. Howard Blume says part of that price included loaded software from Pearson and a 3-year warranty.

-The dynamic for Deasy has changed in the last few years. From last year’s vote by United Teachers L.A. to several board members elected who are not his biggest supporters.

-Up to now, Deasy has had staying power. He hasn’t been seen as corrupt or untrustworthy. But these emails weaken his standing. They make him look like he practiced — at the very least — poor judgment before the bidding process for the technology program even began. An investigation by the Inspector General’s office could break the story open even further, and that could imperil his job more.

Speaking of jobs, Joe Mathews has a column this week essentially saying while its a kid’s job to be ready for school, California public schools have a big job too.