LA Unified School District suspends iPad deal, faces accusations that officials had close ties with

Posted:
in iPad edited August 2014
Though it was much-touted when Apple signed the contract last year, the company's massive deal to sell iPads to the Los Angeles Unified School District has now officially been suspended, amid accusations that top employees at the district had improperly close ties with the Cupertino, Calif., company.

Education


With a report accusing the bidding process for the project of being tailor made to benefit the eventual winners, Apple and Pearson, the district has chosen to halt its deal with Apple, the Los Angeles Times reported this week. Superintendent John Deasy and Deputy Superintendent Jaime Aquino were found to have had regular contact with executives at both Apple and Pearson, giving the appearance of a potential conflict of interest.

Deasy issued a memo to the L.A. Board of Education on Monday stating that the district will "no longer utilize" its contract with Apple moving forward. The superintendent said the move will allow the district to "take advantage of an ever-changing marketplace and technology advances," but also give it "time to take into account concerns raised" about the project.

It was just over a year ago that the Los Angeles public schools revealed they planned to exclusively use Apple's iPad for a new digital textbook program. Apple touted the $30 million deal, saying it was "thrilled" to have been selected and to work with L.A. Unified.

At the time, Aquino said Apple was selected because the iPad "rated the best in quality, was the least expensive option and received the highest scoring by the review panel that included students and teachers."

And earlier this year, the board earmarked another $115 million for additional iPads, but that move followed accusations that the project was running grossly over budget. After that, the project began to fall apart, and by June the district revealed it would instead allow certain high schools to choose from six different Windows and Chromebook laptops instead of Apple's iPad.

In addition to diversifying the platform base, some teachers said the iPad does not fit the needs of students taking standardized tests, citing insufficient screen size and the lack of a built-in keyboard as major deficiencies.

The board failed to address the additional costs likely associated with making a major platform switch halfway through the tech rollout, nor did it offer details on how schools plan to merge three distinct operating systems into a cohesive learning experience. Curriculum from Pearson, McGraw-Hill/StudySync and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt are currently under review for deployment on the Windows and Chromebook machines.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 86
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 2,004member

    OMG, how many officials were close to Microsoft when they were forcing Windows in schools.

  • Reply 2 of 86

    Poor students

  • Reply 3 of 86
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,510member
    Of course if it's true it's to be condemned.
  • Reply 4 of 86
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,580member

    There's nothing inherently wrong with keeping the technology base diversified, except that it greatly increases maintenance and training costs, especially if a single teacher has to deal with multiple platforms.   It always costs more to support multiple platforms.

     

    The way that Apple (or any manufacturer) could have kept themselves locked in was by also providing high-value applications software that could not easily be replicated by another supplier, such as a computer managed instruction module to track all students' learning. 

     

    But there's also nothing inherently wrong with being "close" to the company that you're going to do the deal with.   Shouldn't one be close, in order to evaluate and monitor whether you're making the correct purchasing decision?

  • Reply 5 of 86
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,491member

    Why wouldn't they have had close contact with Apple and Pearson. You don't investigate, design, and contract a complex and large contract in a vacuum. I would have been really upset if they hadn't contacted Apple. This whole mess stinks of a gross lack of understanding and back-room fighting over what technology to deploy. I can't wait until the Windows and Chromebook junk gets deployed and nothing works. Who's going to be responsible for this catastrophe? Of course, the same people who wanted to save face on the Apple deal will blame someone else for their inability to properly understand what's needed and how to deploy it.

     

    Just read the LA Times story, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-utla-lausd-deasy-20140825-story.html, and they have more specific information than listed by AI:

     

    "The Times reported Monday that Deasy and his chief deputy at the time, Jaime Aquino, appear to have been discussing the school system’s effort to supply students computers equipped with online curriculum with executives from tech giant Apple Inc. and education publisher Pearson at least two years before a bidding process was concluded and the contracts were approved, records show.

     

    The collaboration between the officials and the executives support findings from an internal school district report, which found that officials' actions could have created an impression of unfairness in the bidding process.

     

    Educators -- including United Teachers Los Angeles -- are troubled that Deasy is putting more power into the hands of private entities and less into the hands of parents and the public."

     

    After reading this I challenge the teacher's union response to this. It shows they don't know how to procure a large system. I'm happy the superintendent and deputy spent two years researching this project with Apple and Pearson. This is good not bad as the union portrays. The union should be slapped silly for complaining about the historical investigation. As for putting more power into the hands of the parents and public, I'm sorry but how much do they know and anyone who's tried putting together a massive system understands what happens when you involve way too many people--nothing ever gets completed.

  • Reply 6 of 86
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    I wonder if Apple could have done more to assist the teachers and the school district. The standardized tests should have been reworked to be compatible with the iPad. Apple should have also known that the keyboard issue would come up. That should have been included in the contract. They also could have helped with the curriculum in matching up the schools with the best apps. I have not read what apps they are using, but if all of this was left up to the teachers without the appropriate training then it was bound to fail.

  • Reply 7 of 86

    I always thought that this deal was 5 years too soon.

     

    ... and the conflict of interest angle... hogwash.

     

    Over zealous, maybe, but conflicted... bs.

  • Reply 8 of 86
    "But but but keyboards."
  • Reply 9 of 86
    No good deed goes unpunished.

    Sorry LA students, time to halt your accelerated education on excellent hardware at a great value.
  • Reply 10 of 86
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    rob53 wrote: »
    Why wouldn't they have had close contact with Apple and Pearson. You don't investigate, design, and contract a complex and large contract in a vacuum. I would have been really upset if they hadn't contacted Apple. This whole mess stinks of a gross lack of understanding and back-room fighting over what technology to deploy. I can't wait until the Windows and Chromebook junk gets deployed and nothing works. Who's going to be responsible for this catastrophe? Of course, the same people who wanted to save face on the Apple deal will blame someone else for their inability to properly understand what's needed and how to deploy it.
    Are there instances of Chromebooks being deployed and not working? I must admit I'm a bit nervous about Chromebooks (and the upcoming Windows competitors) taking share from iPad in education, mostly because of the built in keyboard. I hope Apple doesn't let their lead in education slip away.
  • Reply 11 of 86
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    mstone wrote: »
    I wonder if Apple could have done more to assist the teachers and the school district. The standardized tests should have been reworked to be compatible with the iPad. Apple should have also known that the keyboard issue would come up. That should have been included in the contract. They also could have helped with the curriculum in matching up the schools with the best apps. I have not read what apps they are using, but if all of this was left up to the teachers without the appropriate training then it was bound to fail.
    Yeah seems like there needed to be a lot of hand holding. Do we know if Apple had dedicated staff supporting this contract?
  • Reply 12 of 86
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post

    OMG, how many officials were close to Microsoft when they were forcing Windows in schools.

     

    EXACTLY!

    It's perfectly okay if Apple broke the law because they need to because Microsoft did it so its okay. And google breaks the law too with that hiring scam thing. So i don't mind that apple breaks the law because they make great products and google sucks android.
  • Reply 13 of 86
    magic_almagic_al Posts: 325member
    If you really want laptops but get tablets because they're cheaper, you're going to be unhappy because you have the wrong tool for the job you wanted to do. I think that's the real story here.
  • Reply 14 of 86
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,671member
    (deleted an incorrect and stupid joke)
  • Reply 15 of 86
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post



    "But but but keyboards."

    To be honest, I can understand their concern. The one thing I did like about Microsoft, personally, was the optional integrated keyboard cover for the Surface. That is something I believe the iPad should of had.

  • Reply 16 of 86
    pfisherpfisher Posts: 758member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post





    Are there instances of Chromebooks being deployed and not working? I must admit I'm a bit nervous about Chromebooks (and the upcoming Windows competitors) taking share from iPad in education, mostly because of the built in keyboard. I hope Apple doesn't let their lead in education slip away.



    Chromebooks are cheaper and seem more appropriate for knowledge and learning. iPads are okay, or maybe have a mix and also see what students prefer.

  • Reply 17 of 86
    inklinginkling Posts: 731member
    There's a good principle: "Never ascribe to a conspiracy what can be explained equally well by stupidity."

    The fact that this ill-prepared and too-fast move to iPads was formulated by school district officials strongly suggests that stupidity rather than "close ties with Apple" was the cause. Replacing their iPad scheme with allowing "high schools to choose from six different Windows and Chromebook laptops instead" is merely continuing that stupidity.

    And if a conspiracy is involved, I'd suspect digital textbook provider Pearson, with all the dubious ethics of most textbook publishers and skilled at manipulating school officials, rather than Apple, whose ties to schools have been weakening for over two decades.
  • Reply 18 of 86
    Students and their families should be paying for their own computers. In LA, the problem is simply that most students cannot read or write, never mind the technology aspect. Public schools are a mismanaged disaster. Shut them all down and get private companies in there to compete for students instead. What a bloody politicized mess.
  • Reply 19 of 86
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,491member

    There's always multiple reasons for people to do certain things. In this case, it might be because there has been tension between the district superintendent, John Deasy, and the UTLA president, Alex Caputo-Pearl. Seems John is from the rich side and Alex is an East Coast native who had come to L.A. to enact his dreams of grass-roots education reform.

     

    I'm not taking sides on who is better for the LA school district, I'm just finding enough published information that shows there's history between these two, which has probably lead to infighting. Alex now has the perfect event to push for John's ouster whether it's justifiable or not. I really don't see Alex's attack as having anything to do with the choice of computers for the students.

     

    "Deasy is a leading figure in the corporate-funded effort to restructure and privatize public education. As the former head of the schools in Santa Monica-Malibu--small cities that sit between LA and the Pacific Ocean--Deasy caught the attention of education reformers."

     

    "...Alex Caputo-Pearl--a veteran teacher who has spent years working to build the union and strengthen its ties to community organizations--and his Union Power slate."

     

    http://socialistworker.org/2014/02/25/new-direction-for-la-teachers

    http://articles.latimes.com/2006/sep/06/opinion/oe-kaplan06

  • Reply 20 of 86
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post

     

    OMG, how many officials were close to Microsoft when they were forcing Windows in schools.


     

    Windows was the chosen OS to put into schools because of it being cheaper than Apple computers. Especially 20 years ago.

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