Thursday, May 15, 2014

Apple Inc. Buys Another School District

Last night my daughter went to a parents meeting at my granddaughter's middle school. The meeting was presided over by the principal who proudly announced the school's new iPad program. Due to the generosity of Apple Inc., every child will be given an iPad as they enter school next fall.

Questions from the floor came fast.

Parents: To keep?
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.

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.

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.

1 comment:

  1. This anecdotal report exemplifies an important consequence of the Federal-Corporate "Race to the Top" initiative. El-Hi education in the US has advanced from a matter of local interest to a matter of national interest. The anecdote is being replicated with variations in schools throughout the US in a natural experiment.

    "New standards" necessitate "new tests," which necessitate "new computers." The thing is though, the new standards and tests are technically no different than the old standards and tests. But bringing "computers" into the narrative makes for a whole different story.

    These parents asked "policy questions" that one would think policy makers, corporate executives, and educational administrators at federal, state, and local levels would have asked and answered. But obviously, that didn't happen.

    The good news is that there will be no "educational disaster." The Fed-Corp "educational reform" has been fueled by bumper sticker slogans: "No Child Left Behind" and "Race to the Top." The initiative has done little or nothing to improve instruction--"that's up to teachers." We'll still teach with the best teachers we have, and they'll still be teaching the best kids our parents can provide.

    The "bust" will be in the narrative that has fueled "educational reform" since the 1980's. That will be a blessing rather than a disaster for kids, teachers, and parents.

    We ain't seen nuthin yet.