Following Disastrous $1.3 Billion iPad Pilot, LA School District Can't Afford Devices For All Students

If your goal is to provide nearly every person in your school district with a tablet, it might not be the best idea to go with one of the most expensive models on the market. That's a lesson the Los Angeles Unified School district is finding out, although there's more to this story than immediately meets the eye.

As part of a massive $1.3 billion plan, iPads were to be distributed to students, teachers, and administrators. Perhaps not that surprisingly, the plan fell short, and the tune changed to, "I don't believe we can afford a device for every student". That sucks on two levels; students were no doubt looking forward to this, and it's no doubt frustrating to begin a roll out and not be able to finish it.

Apple iPad

The plan to provide iPads to so many within the school district was an initiative made by former superintendent John Deasy. We say "former" because he resigned amid intense pressure last fall. Later, questions rose about Deasy and his senior deputy's relationship with Apple executives, which in turn led to the FBI seizing documents related to the project.

It's not safe to jump to conclusions, but I don't think it's hard to understand what really went on here. Had Deasy led this initiative with less-expensive Android tablets, there's little doubt that this halted roll out would not have occurred. Of course, it could be argued that the experience wouldn't have been as good for education, but it's at least a trade-off that would have made sense.

This debacle should be a lesson to any other school district thinking about going down a similar path.