xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Don't Forget South Central: August 2014

Saturday, August 30, 2014

iPads Are Good For Students, Aren't They?



If you believe technology can replace teachers, then yes. I do not believe it.

Let me back up. Hi! My name is Martha Infante and I have been in education for 24 years. I love teaching. I would also love a class set of computers for my students to do research and projects, but our schools have been decimated in recent years with budget cuts and we are only now recovering. In fact, this is what got me started in blogging.

Why is the iPad issue so controversial? It might be because our Superintendent John Deasy, who sees himself as a champion of civil rights, believes iPads will equalize educational opportunities for students from poverty. Not more teachers, counselors, clean buildings, resources, training...but iPads.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, however, is paying $768 per device for its students, teachers and administrators, making it one of the nation's most expensive technology programs.
After we overpaid for these devices with bond money, they made their appearance in my school for one purpose only: to test children. No opportunity to Skype with schools around the world, no ability to make Prezis, no general internet access to look stuff up. Once testing was over, these devices were sent back to the district.

What did we give up when choosing these expensive devices? Well, the money that could have gone to infrastructure went to iPads. As a result, schools have ant, roach, and rodent issues, broken classrooms and buildings, and few devices to use for instructional purposes.


I have a real problem with not involving teachers in the conversation. My main concern was that students would get robbed (and possibly injured) while taking their iPads home. This happens regularly in the neighborhood where I teach, for much less valuable items.

With no policies and safeguards in place, these devices would "disappear" from schools and find themselves on the black market.
At Dymally Senior High, "current and former administrators refused to take responsibility for missing computer devices," the report said.-LA Times
Students will not want to use these devices with only Pearson software installed on them.

Was each school's wifi network enough to handle the usage by their entire student body?

No one asked us, the teachers, and every last prediction came true. When people started asking questions, they were silenced.

Now I start my school year with students sharing cell phones with each other to do research (contrary to popular belief, not all students from poverty have internet access). I research ways to write grants for a class set of kindles, because these are the most affordable and at least they can connect to the worldwide web.

But worse, I suffer the insult of a Bostonian man telling me that he is more interested and invested in improving the lives of our students than I and thousands of others of educators are and have been.

I am not content to let this ride out. My students don't have a voice (yet) and I do. Stay tuned for more blogging this year, and thank you for reading.