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Education Government The Almighty Buck The Courts Apple

LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan 325

SternisheFan sends news that Los Angeles Unified School District is asking Apple for a refund of the district's effort to equip students with iPads. The project was budgeted at around $1.3 billion to equip its 650,000 students, though only about 120,000 iPads have been purchased so far. After the program went bad, the FBI launched an investigation into their procurement practices. The iPads weren't standalone education devices — they were supposed to work in conjunction with another device carrying curriculum from a company named Pearson. But the district now says the combined tech didn't meet their needs, and they want their money back. Lawyers for the local Board of Education are looking into litigation options. They've also notified Apple and Pearson they won't pay for any new products or services.
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LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

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  • Deflection (Score:5, Insightful)

    by halivar ( 535827 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [reglefb]> on Thursday April 16, 2015 @01:41PM (#49487265)

    They wasted the money fruitlessly and want a mulligan. No. Give someone in procurement a pink slip and eat some humble pie. Own your mistakes.

    • Sign off. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dr. Evil ( 3501 ) on Thursday April 16, 2015 @01:51PM (#49487357)

      The exec who signed off on it should get the pink slip. Not the person in procurement.

      If you don't understand the plan, don't sign off on it.

      • Re:Sign off. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday April 16, 2015 @02:09PM (#49487579) Journal
        The superintendent at the time 'resigned' over the controversy; but depending on the outcome of the FBI's ongoing investigation into the circumstances of the bidding process, he may or may not be looking at further consequences.

        Pearson is a company that brings a sort of defense contractor vibe to the educational sector. They are huge, superb at landing contracts, excellent at writing contracts that promise somewhat less than they appear to; but not so hot on delivering, much less on time or on budget.

        Anyone buying a zillion ipads for school children without realizing that they'll be using them mostly to screw around on the internet within about five minutes is certainly an idiot; and Pearson certainly can't take the blame for that; but their failure to deliver some curriculum slurry and a terrible textbook app or two within the agreed upon time? That's the sort of thing they do.
        • Re:Sign off. (Score:5, Informative)

          by i.r.id10t ( 595143 ) on Thursday April 16, 2015 @02:51PM (#49488033)

          Which is why when a vendor asks us to enable integration for their stuff - and Pearson is one of 'em with their myFooLab emporium, I always tell 'em three things.

          1) I don't work for $vendor - so no, I don't "have to" or "need to" do anything for them

          2) We only accept requests from faculty or departments who have decided to adopt the resource, not from the sales person or vendor tech support folks. Again, see #1

          3) The product must not be in beta or "brand new last week", and I must see it work on their system, our course management vendor's system (used for demos), or get good reports from other LMS Admins at other schools

          Have had several unhappy vendors/sales folks, but have had minimal issues about promised features not working, existing, etc.

          • bool
            procurement.proccessIsCorrupt(void)
            {
                return (vendor == "Pearson" || vendor == "Oracle") ? CERTAINLY : PROBABLY;
            }

        • Pearson does a lot of things; I'd find them fairly neutral in the process - what they do will work with basically anything.

          That's not to say what they do is good? I find Pearson to be shit when it comes to education tools - they are filled with bloatware, drm, and things that don't provide any benefit to thing using them, but I wouldn't really blame them for anything here.

          I would blame the superintendent and apple for sticking their nose into more sales under the guise of supporting education.

        • by jbolden ( 176878 )

          Anyone buying a zillion ipads for school children without realizing that they'll be using them mostly to screw around on the internet within about five minutes is certainly an idiot;

          That's not true. I can put a pretty tight monitoring application on an iPad that doesn't allow it to use any TCP/IP except via. the VPN which only whitelists certain parts of the internet. I'd rather use it on a Samsung where I can kill the device entirely if they try and hack the firmware, but it is still doable for the mos

          • I'm curious what you would use to kill a Samsung device if someone decides work around the security, especially since I would assume that they would be WiFi only devices not cellular ones? I have found getting around KNOX and MaaS360 on a Samsung device to be not all that difficult if one doesn't care about preserving the data on the device. You are correct in that you would know which device fell off pretty quickly so you would know who to blame but still if I was a kid having access to a now unlocked devi
      • by jbolden ( 176878 )

        Procurement in many organizations is supposed to verify that management understands what they are buying. Not sure if that's true in LAUSD or not.

        • by TsuruchiBrian ( 2731979 ) on Thursday April 16, 2015 @02:37PM (#49487903)
          As a general rule, LAUSD will do which ever option is worse. If you are unsure of which option is better, the safe bet is to just pick the opposite of what LAUSD decided to do.
        • Procurement in many organizations is supposed to verify that management understands what they are buying.

          They're supposed to verify that the order placed is what the manager wants rather than just what they asked for, but that's not the same thing as ensuring they understand the purchase, not at all. Management is in charge of strategy, they get the credit and the blame.

          • by jbolden ( 176878 )

            I was just commenting on what procurement does. Having read several articles it appears management changed and the priorities changed. This was change of strategy more than anyone not understanding the strategy.

      • Hey, it sounded good on the golf course.
      • Re:Sign off. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday April 16, 2015 @08:06PM (#49490193) Homepage Journal

        Well, until the details of how the contract was awarded and how the vendor failed have been thoroughly investigated, it's premature to fire anyone.

        Don't get me wrong, I'm all for accountability and decisiveness, but picking someone plausible and throwing them under the bus isn't accountability. In fact that may actually shield whoever was responsible.

    • Re:Deflection (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Thursday April 16, 2015 @02:20PM (#49487711)

      Usually in these school procurement cases there is some third-party company behind the mess when you dig into it. And you find that either they sold some gullible school officials on a bunch of bullshit promises or they bribed them, or both. Either way, the company walks away with the money, the gullible officials are never reprimanded, and the only ones who pay the price are the taxpayers who have to foot the bill and the students who have to use old books because they were supposed to be using the SuperPad-Gonna-Solve-All-Your-Problems-Learning-WonderDevice instead of new ones.

    • Re:Deflection (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Thursday April 16, 2015 @02:20PM (#49487715) Homepage Journal

      Wait I have a solution to this problem.
      1. Run a test.. You could call it a pilot program in one school.
      2. The company that wants the contract pays for the pilot or at least half of it.
      When it fails you do not have a missive program fail and it costs a lot less.
      This is brilliant. I wonder why no one thought of this before.

      • Re: Deflection (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        No can do. You can't wait on this, the students need it now.

        So just fork over the big government check and trust us, the representatives of commerce and industry.

      • Who's running the test? My guess is that it won't be scientists. It will probably be the same people who are ultimately responsible for the fuckups that necessitated the test to begin with. And now with a new testing requirement there are more job openings to fill with some of their friends, and probably a pay raise to go with the increased responsibility.
      • by jbolden ( 176878 )

        In 2013 the superintendent was of the "deploy as quickly as possible" and just keep fixing till it works. Sort of an agile mentality of minimal viable product and build. He considered speed essential and was cool with the fact other infrastructure wouldn't be in place in time, this was his top priority. When he left the iPad project had the same schedule but not the institutional juice of being the first priority.

      • One might even suggest we get all science-y and have a control group, evaluation criteria, test for statistical validity, check for confounding factors and other seemingly sensible steps.
    • Just a hunch but maybe there are terms in the contract that the vendors did not meet and the board thinks they have a valid case. What would they have to gain by doing this if they didn't?

      • Desperation, methinks. There's been one high-level, err, 'resignation' from this already (because Pearson basically screwed the pooch and yet no one can peg them for blame thanks to the contract), and lots of other executives are nervously eying the newspapers and school board minutes of late...

  • Wow. Just wow. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Thursday April 16, 2015 @01:41PM (#49487267)

    The iPads weren't standalone education devices â" they were supposed to work in conjunction with another device carrying curriculum from a company named Pearson. But the district now says the combined tech didn't meet their needs, and they want their money back.

    So... They didn't test the iPad / content combo to establish usability / feasibility / usefulness prior to dropping all this cash?

    • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Thursday April 16, 2015 @01:47PM (#49487311) Homepage Journal

      Testing is what those square old mainframe daddies - the ones who witter on about aida and cowbell and 4tran - do.

      It's not agile.

      • by aquabat ( 724032 )

        4tran

        +1 Funny :D

      • sad but true. testing is often left to the users (hw and sw, alike). only the basic smoke tests go thru in today's 'agile' world.

        a funny but also slightly sad example of NO qa at all:

        https://farm9.staticflickr.com... [staticflickr.com]

        see the spelling of that word at the bottom? COLORAST?

        what the hell is that? well, my guess is that its the COLOR adjustment but no one bothered to clear the buffer before it said CONTRAST (as you step thru the menu options).

        not a show-stopper but indicative of what we see in the sw/hw world

      • It's not agile.

        Agile is sooo last decade. It's all about reverse-Waterfall-on-Mars development now.

    • I take it you've never had to work with a public school district administration board before?
    • That's correct. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Pollux ( 102520 ) <{speter} {at} {tedata.net.eg}> on Thursday April 16, 2015 @01:54PM (#49487403) Journal

      So... They didn't test the iPad / content combo to establish usability / feasibility / usefulness prior to dropping all this cash?

      Correct. As it says in the LA Times article, "The district selected Pearson based only on samples of curriculum — nothing more was available."

    • Re:Wow. Just wow. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Thursday April 16, 2015 @02:02PM (#49487511) Journal

      Based on what's been posted, Pearson (and, presumably Apple) promised a product/curriculum combination with essentially a custom use case in mind, the district purchased based on the sales literature, and then Pearson couldn't deliver what they promised. It's called false advertising and Pearson may be left holding the bag if the allegations are true and hold up in court.

      • It's called false advertising and Pearson may be left holding the bag if the allegations are true and hold up in court.

        That might well be. But it's also very poor project management of the school district not to do a pilot test before running off buying a billion iPads. The pilot test would identify the current problem and leave them with say 1200 iPads and not 120000.

        • Development costs stay roughly the same, independent on the number of devices.

          • But the school system wasn't the one doing the development - Pearson was. OK, perhaps the school system did spend money rolling out wireless, etc. on their school campuses, but that can be used for lots of other purposes so it isn't a wasted spend. From the summary, and having not read the article in slashdot tradition, it seems that indeed Pearson made promises of rainbows and unicorns and delivered a sick donkey with a MLP tattoo on it.

            • But the school system wasn't the one doing the development - Pearson was.

              Again, if it was some normal product development, aiming at a product that can be sold to multiple school districts, yes. But projects of this size more often are complete custom build software

              From the summary, and having not read the article in slashdot tradition, it seems that indeed Pearson made promises of rainbows and unicorns and delivered a sick donkey with a MLP tattoo on it.

              Which is why dragging them to court is the right thing to do.

      • by MikeKD ( 549924 )
        I have mod points; too bad there's no "Wishful Thinking" option.
    • Re:Wow. Just wow. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Thursday April 16, 2015 @02:03PM (#49487513)

      This is common in education. You rarely see any kind of pilot project or scientifically valid feasibility work. Education as a field is mostly a philosophy-based practice and is only now starting to dabble in evidence-based decision making.

      • Well, yea, look at Everyday Math and Common Core. Theory bullshit that educated professionals and real educators hate, but politicians and executives-in-education love.
        • Common Core seems to have some evidence-based philosophy behind it, but from what I can tell Everyday Math is a steaming pile of "theory" with a few smallish case-studies. From what I can tell, educators mostly hate Common Core because of the testing aspect - in other words, they don't like being objectively measured.

          • Look to Atlanta to see what being objectively measured means. You're requiring teachers to be parents. You can only educate so much when the home life is a disaster
      • Education as a field is mostly a philosophy-based practice and is only now starting to dabble in evidence-based decision making.

        We don't have time for rational solutions! Why won't you think of the children?

        • I only started thinking about children once I had them :)

          I'm just now looking into education matters, and I'm absolutely horrified at how unscientific it all is. "Best practices" in education are often just the fad philosophy of the day and educators rebel furiously against any attempt to objectively measure their performance. I don't know what the answer is, but I'm trying to do as much as I can locally.

          • Just wait until you take your kids to the pediatrician.

            Much beyond physics and straight engineering, this is what you get.

            And I'm not so sure of physics.

          • Having a wife who is a teacher it sounds like you have things nailed. Lots of new fads most of which are little better than hope. Granted part of the problems in education is from parents who don't give a shit, as well as children who don't give a shit, but there is still a lot of BS from the education administration. With my kids it has been let the schools teach what they can, then spend the time to actually really teach them things properly and fill in the large quantity of gaps left by teaching to the t
    • Re:Wow. Just wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rudy_wayne ( 414635 ) on Thursday April 16, 2015 @02:06PM (#49487545)

      The iPads weren't standalone education devices â" they were supposed to work in conjunction with another device carrying curriculum from a company named Pearson. But the district now says the combined tech didn't meet their needs, and they want their money back.

      So... They didn't test the iPad / content combo to establish usability / feasibility / usefulness prior to dropping all this cash?

      Anyone with half a brain could see that this whole thing had FIASCO written all over it in bright red letters. The whole thing reeks of one giant scam.

      -- The school district signed an initial $30 million deal with Apple in a program that was supposed to eventually cost up to $1.3 billion. As part of the program, the LA School District would buy iPads from Apple at $768 each

      You can go into any store an buy the most expensive iPad for $699. The school system is spending a billion dollars and didn't negotiate a discount on the price? They're actually paying $79 over retail !!?? What the fucking fuck.

      -- and then Pearson, a subcontractor with Apple, would provide math and science curriculum for the tablets at an additional $200 per unit.

      $200 per unit for some shitty software? You've now jacked up the price to nearly a thousand dollars per iPad. Again, they're spending a billion dollars and don't negotiate a discount?

      -- Less than 2 months after the program started, the school district reported that one-third of the 2,100 iPads distributed during the initial rollout of the program, had gone missing.

      Seriously? You didn't see this coming from a mile away?

      -- And best of all, the schools district's Assistant Superintendent, essentially the number 2 person in charge of the entire school system, is a former executive with Pearson, the company providing the software, and he was heavily involved in helping Pearson land the contract..

      • The iPads weren't standalone education devices â" they were supposed to work in conjunction with another device carrying curriculum from a company named Pearson. But the district now says the combined tech didn't meet their needs, and they want their money back.

        So... They didn't test the iPad / content combo to establish usability / feasibility / usefulness prior to dropping all this cash?

        Anyone with half a brain could see that this whole thing had FIASCO written all over it in bright red letters. The whole thing reeks of one giant scam.

        -- The school district signed an initial $30 million deal with Apple in a program that was supposed to eventually cost up to $1.3 billion. As part of the program, the LA School District would buy iPads from Apple at $768 each

        You can go into any store an buy the most expensive iPad for $699. The school system is spending a billion dollars and didn't negotiate a discount on the price? They're actually paying $79 over retail !!?? What the fucking fuck.

        -- and then Pearson, a subcontractor with Apple, would provide math and science curriculum for the tablets at an additional $200 per unit.

        $200 per unit for some shitty software? You've now jacked up the price to nearly a thousand dollars per iPad. Again, they're spending a billion dollars and don't negotiate a discount?

        -- Less than 2 months after the program started, the school district reported that one-third of the 2,100 iPads distributed during the initial rollout of the program, had gone missing.

        Seriously? You didn't see this coming from a mile away?

        -- And best of all, the schools district's Assistant Superintendent, essentially the number 2 person in charge of the entire school system, is a former executive with Pearson, the company providing the software, and he was heavily involved in helping Pearson land the contract..

        Yeah... the least that they could have done is subscribed each iPad to the "Find My iPad" app.... obviously, not being able to find the missing iPads was the last straw... (grin)

    • I work with public contracts all the time. Company sales submits an RFP response that meets the RFP goals with very vague language, the public customer does no homework and signs the contract, then the first thing the company project manager does is review the RFP and come up with a fit/gap analysis where they tell the customer that 30% of what company sales agreed to can't be done, then they proceed anyways and the public customer asks for everything out of scope they can think of to make up for the 30% l
    • They *did* test the iPad / content combo to establish usability / feasibility / usefulness prior to dropping *all* this cash. They tested it by dropping 18% of the cash and got the reality check that it was a dumb and a FBI investigation to provide further analysis for free (i.e. it used tax money that is not part of the school budget).
    • So... They didn't test the iPad / content combo to establish usability / feasibility / usefulness prior to dropping all this cash?

      If you replace "iPad" with "Apple device", you will have a sentence that describes most Apple Fanboys when Apple releases a new product.

    • I don't think Apple owes anyone any refunds in this situation. They provided the products that were ordered, and apparently, in good working condition.

      Pearson *may* have misrepresented what they were actually selling on the software side of things, but that would be an issue for the courts to decide, should they get challenged on it.

      The ridiculous thing is that the school district spent all this money, approving a plan that they clearly didn't test well enough in advance. Personally, I do think iPads could

  • Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 16, 2015 @01:43PM (#49487275)

    We realized spending 1.3 billion on toys for kids was a bad idea. We're going to makeup excuses why we should get our money back.

  • by MetalliQaZ ( 539913 ) on Thursday April 16, 2015 @01:44PM (#49487291)

    These people had no idea what they were getting into and obviously just wanted to have their students carrying tablets around so they'd look like Starfleet Academy. In addition to the corruption that went on, this project was doomed from the start. I doubt they were able to express any clear requirements to the vendors they were working with and probably didn't have any actual plan for how the technology would be leveraged in the classroom. I've seen it a dozen times in schools with inept management. Those who can, do. Those who can't....

    • These people had no idea what they were getting into and obviously just wanted to have their students carrying tablets around so they'd look like Starfleet Academy.

      That is the heart of it. I imagine they publicly boasted quite often about how wonderful it would be to have the Ipads, without ever stating exactly how they would be used, but held it up as a sign of forward thinking progress.

      OTOH, Apple knew better, and had the choice to bring their expectations down to reality rather than inflate them.

    • They didn't want to look like Starfleet Academy. They wanted to look like a rich suburb:

      the technology effort was a civil rights imperative designed to provide low-income students with devices available to their wealthier peers

      Civil rights have come a long way if having iPads is now one. Do people even know what civil rights are anymore?

      • If you are working on the (probably bullshit) theory that these devices improve educational outcomes, there is a civil rights interest in ensuring that students who made poor prenatal choices still have the opportunity to get a decent education.

        However, that assumption is under-supported(even if they were free, it's not news that electronic gizmos are good for slacking off with, so they might have a negative effect unless the school actually has a good plan in mind; and since they aren't free, they are
  • shocker (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Thursday April 16, 2015 @01:48PM (#49487321)
    Back that train up to the point where they initially picked iPads over Rockchip, Google Nexus, Avatar, Dell Venue, anything from ASUS, the Samsung note series, and about 5 other solid competitors. All of those were cheaper, sufficiently fast, cheaper, more durable, cheaper, more serviceable, and CHEAPER. That's how you know the entire project was crooked and completely derailed from the System Development Life Cycle process.

    Whether the guy in charge was a criminal-level Apple fanboy bordering on mental illness or getting some sort of crooked kickback is still being determined in court but if they want a refund, look to the guy who fucked up the whole project in the first place. The vendors certainly won't give you anything. They'll just blame him.
    • Re:shocker (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Thursday April 16, 2015 @01:56PM (#49487431)
      My kid's STEM school used Dell Chromebooks. They are very useful for doing what is needed, creating reports, researching information, submitting homework, and occasional collaborative activities. They are not a mainstay of the educational day, but a tool used at the appropriate time.
    • I wouldn't be surprised if it's because they thought the iPad is the "best tablet" due to its branding. I used to carry a Nexus 7 to work and half the people there thought it was a phone.

      • Branding does play a big role. A lot of teachers ,often those are not tech savvy probably already have Ipads/Iphones because they never considered anything else. There is likely an easier sell to stick with what teh most fearful are familiar with.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by MightyYar ( 622222 )

      I have no idea whether the negotiated a lower price from Apple or not, but I will point out that $1.3 billion divided by 650,000 students is almost $2500 per student... the cost of the device is almost in the noise here.

      • Yep, you're right, $1.3 billion divided by 650,000 is almost $2500 per student.

        I guess you are a journalist, or is there another reason you would inflate $2000 per student to "almost $2500 per student"
      • A comment above points out that the negotiated price was $79 above retail, and they paid an additional $200 for the educational software.

        http://apple.slashdot.org/comm... [slashdot.org]

        So, not only did they buy the most expensive product on the market, they also overpaid for it.

  • Buyer's remorse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Thursday April 16, 2015 @01:52PM (#49487377) Journal

    So wait, you fucked up, and now you want us to pay for it [cad-comic.com]?

    No, see, here's what happened: School decides they want product X which works with product Y. Product X sucks; product Y is not defective. School has legitimate claim about product X not delivering; product Y is your fault, and you don't go back to the supplier and make them eat the cost.

    The school may have a claim against Pearson, since they delivered shoddy, half-ass work. The school has no claims against Apple, since Apple supplied a device not designed to do what the school wanted, and the school intended to extend it with Pearson's product.

    There's a real lesson about bad project management and buyer's remorse here; and, looking back, they're ignoring old and proven lessons about not trying to fix education with unrelated technology. The only technology that belongs in education is education: education methods are a technology, and they are the technology for education.

    Until you have an education methodology that shows good, scientific basis and utilizes your fancy toys, you're just throwing toys into education. For example: Japan uses a mathematics curriculum teaching students to use complementary number computation techniques, driven by the exemplary platform of a machine called a Soroban; a Soroban would be a ridiculous toy to bring into the classroom if you were not teaching using these computation techniques and trying to leverage the visual and mechanical aspect of learning by soroban (I've done some self-teaching without the soroban, and learned the same techniques; there are, however, scientific reasons to bring a soroban to the table). If they're just doing workbook activities BUT ON AN IPADZ!!!! and not doing anything known to improve education when an iPad is involved, the iPad is a fucking toy not appropriate in education.

    It's worth noting there's a school of educational research suggesting that introducing young children to high technology is actively bad, and that high technology should be taught outright after age 10-12 rather than used as a platform to deliver old teaching methods. Small children need most to learn socialization; they need to interact with other children, and not isolate themselves to curriculum. I have my own educational theory which extends this: small children need most to learn techniques of utilizing the brain effectively, set in an environment of free socialization, so as to develop their social behaviors while also giving them tools to rapidly and effectively learn curriculum. In all of these advanced schools of thought, and in mine, you see that pattern: humans need to learn human behavior first, then learn high technology as a tool; wrapping books in fancy electronics won't suddenly make education better.

    This is like the 90s when everyone's answer to everything related to computer security was "ENCRYPTION!" Now everyone's answer to every education problem is "COMPUTERS!"

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      It's worth noting there's a school of educational research suggesting that introducing young children to high technology is actively bad

      That's gotta be hogwash. Too much is probably bad, yes, but it's good to expose young kids to a wide variety of tools and techniques. I've seen studies that showed the wider the variety of toys young kids are exposed to, the better they later do in school.

      And remember, bad software teaches patience.

    • by jbolden ( 176878 )

      My daughter's school uses tablets. Very simple..

      1) Teachers distribute materials via. a Google share system tied to a school based Google docs account
      2) Kids submit homework via. this system
      3) Some classes the materials are useful in class, when it is they kids can use their own tablets or one of the school's Chromebooks.
      3') There are iPads when interface is best used in a casual touch, shared way in place of the Chromebooks.

      Works well. Gets used just like it is used in life.

    • Re:Buyer's remorse (Score:5, Informative)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday April 16, 2015 @02:32PM (#49487839) Journal
      I can't digg up the original contract to check; but some of the stories state that they are going to Apple because the deal was to purchase 'iPad+software', as a packaged product, from Apple. By all accounts Pearson was the significant weak link (not a shock, that's pretty typical for them), while Apple's stuff suffered only from the fairly pitiful state of iOS management; but the school district didn't structure the deal as 'Contract #1, buy ipads, Contract #2, buy textbook apps'; it was a package, and their claim is that half the package was rotten and the other half is of little use to them without the underdelivered component.

      Given that Apple is reputed to be a brutal and efficient taskmaster of its suppliers, I'd imagine that either the school district will fail, or Apple will gouge it out of Pearson; but to the best of my understanding there is logic behind complaining to Apple, given the terms under which the devices were purchased.
    • by Ecuador ( 740021 ) on Thursday April 16, 2015 @03:18PM (#49488261) Homepage

      Pearson was Apple's subcontractor. Apple was supposed to get $780 out of every ipad (yep, you heard right, retail+ price) and Pearson $200. I haven't seen the contract, but if the various news sources is correct, it is Apple who is basically making the offer by bundling software of their choice...

  • Did they even attempt a small scale roll out to see if it would met their needs? If not: epic fail.
    • by jbolden ( 176878 )

      No they didn't even examine the curriculum in depth. They didn't understand what they were buying.

      • No they didn't even examine the curriculum in depth. They didn't understand what they were buying.

        Yup. Because what the curriculum/book vendors do is show the shiny, promise that starting a new semester is as simple as deciding who is going to be in the class, the shiny stuff is kept up to date, is (supposed to be) ADA compliant, and the content is mapped to the standards/outcomes that the various overseeing groups (accreditation, local school board, state ed dept, fed ed dept, whatever) have decided are important.

        The average faculty look at this and say "yes please" without care of cost to student, bei

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Thursday April 16, 2015 @01:55PM (#49487421)

    They were actually unhappy with Pearson.

    The article makes this very clear. It wouldn't matter if the Pearson Curriculum were on an iPad or an Android device, they'd still be unhappy with it. The attachment of Apple to the story is a means of click-baiting it. Pretty clear in the quotes from their attorney:

    L.A. schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines “made the decision that he wanted to put them on notice, Pearson in particular, that he’s dissatisfied with their product,” said David Holmquist, general counsel for the nation’s second-largest school system. He said millions of dollars could be at stake.

    In a letter sent Monday to Apple, Holmquist wrote that it “will not accept or compensate Apple for new deliveries of [Pearson] curriculum.” Nor does the district want to pay for further services related to the Pearson product.

    Pretty ringing condemnation of Pearson's products by the school district; note that the Pearson products might not eve be at fault, given that the complaint was that it didn't help with the standardized testing scores.

    • by King_TJ ( 85913 )

      This is true, but I think Apple was mentioned specifically because people following this story from the beginning are probably most familiar with it from the technology and Apple-centric web sites, who initially praised it as evidence the iPad was going to become a big player in education.

      There were always a lot of questions about whether or not the high cost of buying that many iPads was really sensible (and apparently with good reason, as the contract apparently guaranteed they'd pay $768 per iPad -- a pr

    • by edjs ( 1043612 )

      They were actually unhappy with Pearson.

      The article makes this very clear. It wouldn't matter if the Pearson Curriculum were on an iPad or an Android device, they'd still be unhappy with it.

      The contract was with Apple, with Pearson as a subcontractor, so even if the fault is all with Pearson, it's Apple that's responsible to the school district; beyond that it's between Apple and Pearson. And as primary, Apple should have been on top of Pearson to deliver their vaunted total user experience.

      As an aside, all three of the final bidders used Pearson, so yes, it was doomed regardless of the underlying hardware.

  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Thursday April 16, 2015 @01:55PM (#49487423)

    I am saddened and feel I want to kick something. From the summary: -

    "...But the district now says the combined tech didn't meet their needs , and they want their money back..."

    Emphasis mine.

    Is it just me who sees something wrong here? So, no feasibility study was done? Who approves these things? It was very evident that this whole thing wouldn't work. Look, we hire lots of foreigners in this country, who do so well not because they were using these educational gimmicks wherever they came from, but because most of them put pen to paper and wrote something.

    Heck, our students can't even write [English] well despite it being their first language! Then there is the damage done by the so called Common Core. What is wrong with these United States? You know what? When it comes to the way we teach, I am not surprised the products of our educational system go on to make such shortsighted decisions. God save us.

  • by Radical Moderate ( 563286 ) on Thursday April 16, 2015 @01:56PM (#49487433)
    I work in education, and the idea that you'll just roll out a new tech to hundreds of thousand of kids is just asinine. Start small, work the bugs out, then go big. Especially if you're deploying tablets, trying to manage them is like herding cats. Apple's made some progress in that area, but they're still a huge PIA to manage. I hope there's a serious, ie external, investigation into who drove this fiasco. While incompetence on this scale isn't unimaginable, I suspect shenanigans. Follow the money.
  • Pearson (Score:4, Informative)

    by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Thursday April 16, 2015 @02:04PM (#49487537) Homepage

    Summary didn't mention this but Pearson is a huge global education player. Just a few of their brands: Addison–Wesley, BBC Active, Bug Club, eCollege, Fronter, Longman, MyEnglishLab, Penguin Readers, Prentice Hall, Poptropica and Financial Times Press. So I don't see how LA Unified is going to avoid them.

    As for this not meeting their needs... Reading the article LA Unified seems completely clueless. The contract was $768 / iPAD (I assume this includes warranty) + $200 / content & software license for 3 years. They according to the article are demanding that Apple fix the application, Apple didn't create the application nor does it own the content. They bought 43,261 iPads with the Pearson curriculum and 77,175 without. AFAICT Apple delivered their part. Their problem is the Pearson curriculum.

    I can get that they don't like the app, but at this cost they can just write an app. The whole thing sounds like they don't know how to buy or deploy technology when it comes to a custom solution. Which is potentially understandable for a small district but inexcusable for a $1.3b contract.

  • The article very clearly states that their issues involve poorly written software by Pearson, and the school itself apparently didn't have any idea how to configure the iPads with a secure configuration.

    I'm also willing to bet that Pearson did a bad job because they were mismanaged by the school, with requirements being written on cocktail napkins and whatnot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 16, 2015 @02:17PM (#49487683)

    This school district was sold swamp land in Nevada... Anyone who works in the education IT industry (I do: And part of that is supporting iPad deployments in education every day) knew there was no way in hell this was going to work. Apple has done a terrible, awful, horrible job of enabling iPads to work in an education environment. They are a complete nightmare to configure, deploy and maintain. If you are going to put these things in a school, just use them for internet browsing and use real computers for everything else. It isn't that they are bad devices for individual users, it's just that the integrate horribly with existing networks. One of the most difficult things is simply accessing data on the network / computer accounts. For example, Apple *still* doesn't support users logging in to their network directories (other than using the incredibly-confusing-for-the-ipad-users and also incredibly buggy WEBDAV functions) and simply opening and saving files to those locations. Upshot? Pages doesn't get used, Keynote doesn't get used... Blah blah blah. It's just a nightmare. Great, wonderful, single-user devices. Horrible, awful devices in terms of multiple-users and network integration.

  • All the ipads died of dysentery
  • School districts are notorious for having just enough tech staff to keep end users functional, but absolutely no staff to "think ahead".

    This district needs tech leadership that can look forward at technologies that may or may not be useful, then it needs implementation and testing staff to make sure those tech plans become reality.

    I suspect this district thought they could simply sign a contract with Pearson - and like magic, the tech would deploy itself and the staff would automatically learn the tech and

    • by jbolden ( 176878 )

      For this number of devices they could have paid for a deployment, training and device management service. Though obviously that sort of thing costs.

  • by galabar ( 518411 ) on Thursday April 16, 2015 @02:43PM (#49487973)
    Can we pull up the previous Slashdot story on this (when they were just starting)? While most folks agreeded that it would fail, it may be useful to recognize those folks that were vehement supporters for this and ridicule them mercilessly. Here's the original article: http://news.slashdot.org/story... [slashdot.org] Looking through that link, I'm challenged to find even a single supporter.
  • My school district has about 5000 students give or take and currently issues iPads to all middle and high school students. The students use their Ipads for virtually all assignments and this is achieved through an app called notability, this works in conjunction with another app called iTunes U which organizes assignments and courses. This program seems to be successful when deployed on a small scale as seen in my school district. However, successfully enacting this program on a scale the size of L.A could
  • Dear LAUSD,

    No.

    -Steve

    Sent from my iPad

  • Mt. Diablo School District decided to buy a bunch of Chromebooks.

    It seems most school districts are generally technologically-illiterate and do not have personnel that even have a clue regarding computer hardware and software.

    They do know how to spend money though.

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