Apple marketed its iPad as an educational device “that just works,” but the City of Angels is learning the hard way that there’s nothing simple about $700 textbooks.

The most pressing problem, other than cost to the district, which plans to spend $1 billion on devices, software and Wi-Fi infrastructure, is the cost to parents should the iPads get lost, stolen or broken.

As the L.A. Times reports, there are at least three different forms that have gone out advising parents that they will have to pay to fix or replace damaged iPads. So what if parents don’t sign? Their kids … uh … don’t get textbooks. No that doesn’t work.

“At school, that is the instructional material,” said Gerardo Loera, head of curriculum and instruction. “You can’t opt out of that.”

So what if parents want their child to have access, but can’t afford to pay for damage?

Under state law, families can be required to pay for damaged materials, said Brooks Allen, director of education advocacy for the ACLU of Southern California.

But, “at the end of the day, you have to make sure all students have equal access to instructional materials and that the ability to pay is not a barrier,” he said in an interview.

Another “problem” that has come up is that kids have already figured out how to circumvent security measures blocking access to fun stuff like music streaming. In this humble blogger’s opinion, that’s the first sign that students are actually picking up some useful 21st century skills. Good for them. And good for the school district for trying to give working- and middle-class kids access to high technology, whatever wrinkles need to be ironed out.

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer


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