LA Teachers, Students Protest Reliance and Spending on iPads
Vanessa Romo | November 8, 2013
As daylight faded and red brake lights of rush hour cast their eerie glow, a group of LA Unified teachers and students marched through downtown streets yesterday, demanding a reversal of district policies that value testing over “authentic” learning.
Drivers honked and pumped their fists in solidarity as students waived their banners:
“Technology for Teaching, Not 4 Testing”
“iNeed a College Counselor, Not an iPad”
“iPrefer Better School Food!”
Organizers said the rally was one of 20 across the country, protesting a national education policy that they say prioritizes and funds standardized testing and curriculum that is detrimental to student learning.
In LA, the timing couldn’t have been better, said substitute teacher Charles Brandick.
The protest came on the heels of a special school board meeting devoted to scrutinizing the district’s billion dollar iPad program. With the first of three phases complete, board members are now debating whether to continue with the controversial tablet rollout.
Alex Caputo-Pearl, who is running for UTLA president against incumbent Warren Fletcher, helped organize the demonstration.
“I fought for more technology in schools for years when I was teaching at Crenshaw High School, so I’m not against technology,” he said, “but embarking on a billion dollar iPad project without consulting community members and while we’re cutting essential programs for students is wrong.”
The district is not considering the education of the whole child, he said.
Jasmine Morales, a senior at UCLA Community School, said an iPad is the least of her concerns. “I’m supposed to be applying for colleges right now,” she said. “My school doesn’t even have a college counselor.”
Brandick has been substitute teaching at Angeles Elementary School in central Los Angeles. He wants the school board to end the tablet project and focus on getting working desktop computers in classrooms and a reliable internet connection.
“I turned on one of the computers in the lab and it almost exploded,” he said. “It started to sizzle so I had to run to turn it off.”
Brandick said the district is distracted by the “shiny new iPad, but it can’t get the basics right.”