Do We Really Need iPads For Every Student?

From the LA Times today:

In a major shift in how California’s 6.2 million public school students are taught and tested, state officials plan to drop the standardized exams used since 1999 and replace them with a computerized system next spring.

The move would advance new learning goals, called the Common Core, which are less focused on memorizing facts. They are designed instead to develop critical thinking and writing skills that take formerly separate subjects — such as English and history or writing and chemistry — and link them. Forty-five states have adopted these standards.

Click the link to read more about the clusterfuckish nature of this whole thing. But regardless of how you feel about Common Core, why the switch to computerized tests? Can’t you test Common Core knowledge using pencil and paper? Beats me. But it’s apparently going to cost the LA school district some serious money. Here’s a story from yesterday:

Los Angeles school officials are acknowledging a new looming cost in a $1-billion effort to provide iPads to every student: keyboards. Officials so far have not budgeted that expense, but they said the wireless keyboards are recommended for students when they take new state standardized tests.

When I read that, I wondered why they suddenly needed iPads to take standardized tests. I guess now I know. Sort of.

In any case, I’d like to open up this thread to teachers or anyone else who wants to weigh in on the benefit of giving every kid an iPad. I think this is just about the most colossally dumb use of money I’ve come across in a long time. But naturally I want to keep an open mind. So educate me. Someone tell me why I’m wrong.


We recently wrapped up the crowdfunding campaign for our ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project, and it was a smashing success. About 10,364 readers pitched in with donations averaging $45, and together they contributed about $467,374 toward our $500,000 goal.

That's amazing. We still have donations from letters we sent in the mail coming back to us, so we're on pace to hit—if not exceed—that goal. Thank you so much. We'll keep you posted here as the project ramps up, and you can join the hundreds of readers who have alerted us to corruption to dig into.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.