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Developers look over new apps being displayed on iPads at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference.
Associated Press/Photo by Eric Risberg
Developers look over new apps being displayed on iPads at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference.

L.A. schools binge on Apple’s iPad

Education

The Los Angeles Unified school district just decided to spend $30 million on iPads for students. This begins a “massive roll out” of iPads across the school district and is the first phase of an even larger plan.

School board members initially fought against the contract. Rival tech company Microsoft didn’t like it either. The school board ended up voting 6-0 for a $30 million deal with Apple. Each iPad will cost about $200 more than the standard because of extra software preloaded on every device. 

Apple thinks the iPads can replace physical books. According to biographer Walter Isaacson, changing the textbook market was a an important project for Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder. Jobs told News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch the iPad could make paper textbooks obsolete. He hoped to be able to release textbooks for free on the tablet computer.

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But the textbooks on these iPads will not come from Apple’s iBooks, even though Apple launched a suite of textbooks in early 2012. The books will instead come from education giant Pearson.

Pearson is the same company responsible for the recent New York State Common Core-aligned literacy exams. New York teachers criticized the exams, calling them “troubling, cynical, and downright dishonest,” and “really not a valid test for any grade.”

Teachers also found passages from the Pearson curriculum featured on the test, “sending out the clear message” that success on the Common Core test revolves around purchasing Pearson curriculum. 

The new iPads will come loaded with the Pearson Common Core System of Courses, bundled into a new app. 

Teachers union president Warren Fletcher suggested spending the money on hiring new staff, but the school board wanted iPads. At $678 each, the initial $30 million will secure just under 45,000 tablets. The L.A. school district will need 640,000 iPads to reach each of its students. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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