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 Appleā€™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.

Keith Homer