Stacy Timmer: iPad frustration
To the editor:
I was present at the June 25 Moffat County School Board meeting where after a lengthy discussion regarding the budget deficit, it was decided by the majority of the board to pass the proposed iPad initiative. By approving this four-year iPad lease, supposedly in the name of providing our teachers the resources they need, the district’s budget was then pushed into an alarming deficit of $1.3 million. My daughter and I checked out her iPad on Monday. The device was distributed directly out of the box, and I was told that while the school would monitor her activity during school hours, it was our responsibility to ensure it wasn’t used inappropriately from 3:40 p.m. to 8 a.m. At no time while getting it up and running were any kind of learning materials loaded. Learning software was not purchased for these iPads, the astronomical price tag merely covered this year’s lease. My daughter can download games, apps and surf the internet, but she will not be able to log into software that teaches or even parallels the curriculum in her classroom. If we as parents wanted her to have unlimited access to the internet we’d have bought her an iPad ourselves. But we didn’t. Now our school has handed her one and told us it’s our responsibility to police her activity. There was no opt out clause available, students either use theirs after paying the $50 insurance fee or risk paying around $1,000 to replace the damaged device, or agree to provide an Apple only device yourself. This costly iPad initiative was pushed through not for educational purposes, but for bragging rights that our school has great technology. My 14-year-old has been given an expensive device that is not a resource as we were led to believe but nothing more than a tool, an ineffective one at that, since the educational materials needed to effectively implement this initiative were less of a priority than obtaining the flashy device itself. Meanwhile, while volunteering in my 7-year -ld’s elementary classroom I have witnessed firsthand our teacher’s desperate need for additional hands on help due to the alarming increase in class size and behavioral issues. One teacher cannot be expected to effectively instruct 25 children when many are causing constant distraction, creating a chaotic, unproductive learning environment. We are setting our educators up for failure and then placing them on the chopping block when their students don’t meet standards. These devices won’t help achieve standards, in fact the distractions they bring will most likely do just the opposite. Students have already been reprimanded for playing on the iPad instead of listening. Now the push is on to manipulate our community into financing this blatant fiscal irresponsibility by passing a mill levy increase. Our current funding needs to be reallocated with the highest priority given to obtaining true academic resources that will be utilized for effectively educating our students at every grade level, and discard this irrational, overpriced, blanket solution mentality.
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