After weeks of debate, the Los Angeles Unified School District on Tuesday voted to continue with its ambitious yet controversial plan to put an iPad in the hands of each one of its students.
Phase two of the rollout, which has been dogged by setbacks, is expected to continue in a modified format.
The tablets were confiscated from students at Roosevelt High School and other campuses in September after some students disabled security software and accessed unauthorized sites such as Facebook and YouTube.
By a vote of 6-1, board members on Tuesday approved the purchase of some 70,000 new iPads that will be deployed at 35 schools by the end of the year. Forty-seven campuses in the district already have the mobile devices.
The board also agreed to conduct an assessment of the iPads’ educational efficacy before purchasing a final shipment in fall 2015.
Despite criticism of the project, Superintendent John Deasy insists that it is a crucial part of preparing students for the modern job market.
“Students will enter a workforce … for jobs that haven’t even been described and founded yet, that will require levels of technology that you and I are not competent in,” Deasy told a reporter on Wednesday.
Many instructors, however, remain adamantly opposed to the $1-billion plan.
“We cannot allow the superintendent to gobble up all the new taxpayer dollars on pet projects at the expense of educators. An iPad will never take the place of a teacher,” said Warren Fletcher, president of United Teachers Los Angeles.
Members of the union would like funds that have been earmarked for iPads to be used instead to pay for an increase in teachers’ compensation. They planned to demand raises at a rally on Wednesday afternoon.