The new LAUSD district 6 school board (BOE) member, Mónica Ratliff, is being blamed – personally and explicitly and completely unfairly – for at least one school’s pedagogy-free “deployment” of ipads.

Following problems earlier this year, ipads were “grounded” at the school site, although the reasons for this decision were never clarified.  Several complete and sufficient explanations for this repercussion seem possible.  For example, liability and responsibility of families and the district have yet to be worked out explicitly and in contingency-free writing (“willful” damage is the responsibility of families, but who decides what is ‘willful or deliberate’?  how many times?).  Another example might be the controversy around originally justifying long-term construction bond money to fund these ephemeral purchases.  As “part of the infrastructure”, the ipads could be justified as electronics upgrades.  But as soon as the ipads go home they become more like textbooks than like onsite hardware, invalidating the bond funding justification.

Yet for ipads to remain at school they must be secured and tracked.  There must be a system to check them in and out daily.  And there must be a place to store and charge a vast volume of electronics in even more massive (and expensive) carts within already-overcrowded classrooms overstuffed with 50 pupils and more.

The logistics are mind-bogglingly cumbersome; costly in terms of equipment, time and the actual purpose of our children at school:  education.

Some of the 47 schools in the initial phase I “rollout” of the ipads have yet to “deploy” any devices for reasons that remain unclear but presumably relate to onsite infrastructure wiring.

So now, deploying the devices so late in the school year, under such restricted circumstances, requires such painful school-site juggling that the entire utility of the devices is negated.  Entire pedagogical utility that is.

Because the logistics are so cumbersome these devices cannot be used by teachers in the classroom, or pupils at home, for the purpose of any actual learning.  Instead, the utility of these already-dated devices has contracted to gratifying the testing needs of a gigantic, national testing consortium, “Smarter Balanced“, and the meshuggeneh federal Department of Education’s misnamed stepchild “Common Core State Standards” (the federal government cannot by law have anything to do with state curriculum and instruction, but they have manipulated its acceptance in the background all the same). Which is from the district’s point of view, apparently just fine as that is all they really wanted the ipads for anyway:  testing.

Responsibility for this travesty of technology implementation should lay at the feet of the managers tasked with it.  Responsibility does not lie with either watchdog committee properly monitoring the country’s largest technology purchase ever, or more inaptly still, with either committee’s chairs.  It bears repeating that neither the citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee chair Stephen English, nor the BOE’s Common Core Technology Program committee chair, Mónica Ratliff, — that is neither political body nor individual constituents thereof, is responsible for turning Los Angeles’ 1:1 ipad program into a national disgrace.  It may be the collective responsibility of the school’s board of directors, but they are tasked with trusting and nominally agreeing with the recommendations of their staff in the program’s implementation.

Fault should lie with the BOE decision, perhaps, to continue and even augment the employment of their superintendent at whose desk this buck should stop.  But no individual board member, in a proper, duly elected and appointed effort to scrutinize a troubled and troubling initiative, should shoulder the blame for kindly and responsibly drawing attention to legitimate questions of safety, responsibility, implementation, value and utility surrounding LAUSD’s ipad program.

Indeed, there could be no better justification for urging continuation of the CCTP committee’s mandateDr. Vladovic take note:  Reinstate the vital voice of Mónica Ratliff’s CCTP committee please!!