Los Angeles Unified School District is dealing with the astounding contract it signed to purchase $1 billion worth of technology, including iPads for every student in their district. Despite the ever-changing nature of technology, the lack of a clear program for its use and the software that still isn't ready for student use, this program just burned up more than a billion dollars that could have gone toward various district improvements instead of increasing Apple’s stockholder equity.
As Utah considers its own version of this corporate boondoggle thanks to House Speaker Becky Lockhart's similar head-turning proposal for $300 million, it would behoove our elected representatives to give due diligence to this enormous budget outlay and ask the policy questions that we expect. Does this fit into long-term strategic plans, and are the expected benefits from $300 million of technology worth the cost? What about reduced or stagnant salaries of recent years, declining music and art programs, support services and staff for special-needs students, issues with class size and long-delayed physical facilities maintenance?
Viewing expensive technology as the magic bullet for education is a questionable assumption to begin with. With no input from educators, such a large politically initiated purchase distorts the funding processes in education, excludes most stakeholders and ignores various pressing needs that should also be addressed.