Questions from the floor came fast.
Parents: To keep?Questions died out amid much grumbling from the audience. It was clear that the deal was sealed. There was no backing out. It was also clear that the iPad roll-out in August was going to be a disaster and that Apple Inc. and Comcast had made themselves a sweet deal. I suppose things like this are called School-Business partnerships in some quarters. In other quarters, things like this are called sell-outs by the schools to corporations. The commercial entanglement of public education has been the subject of ongoing annual reports by Alex Molnar and his colleagues at NEPC for several years now. What started as a trickle is becoming a flood.
Principal: No, they will be checked out and have to be returned at the end of the year.
Parents: And what if they are lost or stolen?
Principal: Well, they will have to be replaced at retail price.
Parents: Is Apple giving these things to the school free?
Principal: No, we get a special price.
Parents: What if a kid doesn't have wifi at home?
Principal: Comcast has agreed to a special introductory offer.
Parents: Some of our families can't afford Comcast's "special offer." What percent of our families qualify for Free or Reduced Lunch?
Principal: About a third.
Parents: What happens when the kid shows up for school and needs to charge the battery? It takes about 10 to 15 minutes of charging before you can use the thing.
Principal: I'll have to have IT look into that.
Parents: Is Apple going to be pushing ads at our kids?
Principal: I don't think so, but every student has to have an Apple ID and password before school starts in August.
Parents: Why are we doing this? What good is it?
Principal: We are going to be able to do daily formative assessment for every child. We can maximize learning.
Parents: MORE TESTING?! We're sick of all the testing you are doing.
Gene V Glass
Arizona State University
National Education Policy Center
University of Colorado Boulder
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not represent the official position of NEPC, Arizona State University, nor the University of Colorado Boulder.