EDUCATION POLITICS-The time has come for my youngster to confront immanent militaristic iPad “deployment” and all this implies for privacy and responsibility, coercion and choice, for mother and for child.
LAUSD’s district IT spokesman concedes upon questioning, that privacy concerns revert almost immediately to a matter of trust by the parent of the district.
But with regard specifically to this iPad “rollout”, what about the entire program could possibly inspire confidence or trust? A short, incomplete list of taxpayer treachery would include:
- Cost; the program’s predicted cost rises at an alarming rate – is it $30M? $50M? $1B? more? [here's a fun Common Core algebra II problem for our HS juniors: if the iPad program estimated cost increases at a rate of approximately $150M/month, when will LAUSD be bankrupt?]
- Disingenuous assurances to the Bond Oversight Committee, whose citizen’s influence has been systematically marginalized; iPads were conceded as infrastructure because it was promised they would never leave school premises rendering them ‘one of the fixtures’, yet immediately following their appropriation through construction bond monies, the iPads were sent home highlighting their essential nature as more akin to textbooks than furniture.
- Suspicious vendor selection process including entirely enigmatic “curriculum” component via S Pearson & Son Ltd
- Incompetent wireless upgrade in schools resulting in thousands of iPads sitting dormant while awaiting poorly conceived and executed upgrades that may yet be inadequate.
- Myopic – or mendacious – selection of pedagogically and age-inappropriate hardware. It is universally agreed iPads are not the tool a serious student needs, laptops are; they will be added to the order post facto, under duress. Meanwhile iPads must be equipped with aftermarket keyboards to backfill this literary shortcoming.
But then comes what must for a parent, be the biggest, sleeper ambiguities of them all:
- Opaque purpose, stated variously – are the iPads intended as a testing device, and if so of what, to what end? student evaluation? teacher evaluation? school evaluation? Are they instead or additionally to be instructional devices, intended as textbook replacement … or not? Directly contradictory claims have been presented at Beaudry, in successive public policy meetings. Is the intention to shift the entire paradigm of teaching, displacing traditional teachers, methods of information exchange (books, libraries, etc). A change of such momentousness must be addressed head-on if there is to be any hope of engendering a modicum of trust.
- Deliverance to Big Data of one’s child’s own data points, a betrayal of their own precious self. Congress changed the privacy laws governing K12 children in 2011. It is hard to imagine any cognizant parent not feeling nervous about abrogating their parental responsibility in protecting their own child’s privacy.
For as my child enters a new realm of responsibility, carrying about her $700 of hardware in a backpack, meanwhile I embark on acquiring for her the mandated vehicle for this gigantic experiment in commingling branding and product sales directly in the classroom. It gives one pause to be coerced into accepting 6 separate privacy agreements foisted upon this deal by Apple. One of these agreements is 325 pages long, and several contain embedded within them separate privacy agreements covering various specifics. Even still there is one last privacy-Daddy superseding the rest, annealing one’s child’s name forever to an apple ID devised to link and merge all education data together for all time in one cloudy corner.
I lack the resources to begin to understand what I am signing away. And I lack either the complacency that follows shortsightedness or the fortitude to fabricate trust, undeserved. LAUSD requires of its parents not only a blind faith that benevolence will evolve in concert with technology, but in administrative competence as well.
In the absence of any evidence for this, I feel forced as a parent to choose between parting ways with the program, or presiding over the last semblance of my child’s privacy being parted from her.
As a lifelong learner and lover of education, not to mention lover of Apple products, I would never have envisioned facing a pedagogical Sophie’s Choice of such irony.
(Sara Roos is a politically active resident of Mar Vista, a biostatistician, the parent of two teenaged LAUSD students and a CityWatch contributor, who blogs at redqueeninla.com)
Vol 12 Issue 13
Pub: Feb 14, 2014