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You Know I'm Right | Commentary by Betty Arenson
| Friday, Oct 4, 2013

bettyarensonHave you noticed that when a governmental entity hires an employee, especially one with a title that indicates measurable responsibility, the public who pays the salary is told, “We had to pay this amount of salary to get the best?” We see it in our universities, social programs, administrators, public utilities, etc.

For the working stiff who actually has to show up, think, perform and produce, it’s reasonable to think these folks are indeed thorough and astute.

Not so – especially when it comes to the spending of public money.  If these masters of malfeasance ran their personal spending and budgets like they blow taxpayer or rate-payer dollars, they’d all be on skid row in a cardboard house.

Here is a recent example.

In the Los Angeles area, an Aug. 28, headline read, “Giving Apples to students.” They didn’t mean the fruit. They meant iPads, touted as a “$1-billion effort.” The start was for two elementary schools in the LAUSD to “level the playing field” with the rest of the district and the kids “won’t feel left out.”

The plan will stretch to all grade levels, every single student.

For the $1 billion, half will go for the iPads and the balance for installing wireless networks on all campuses.

L.A. Superintendent John Deasy pushed this decision (of course), and the negatives of the process are blatant and clearly ignored.

As an aside, it is noted that the price tag does not take into account the thousands, maybe millions, of dollars the district will spend on the unionized teachers to take instructions in learning the iPads classroom application.

First, the funding.

The majority of the purchase cost is to be paid out of school bonds. This product purchase was never told to voters; therefore it is not voter approved. Clearly, legal issues exist, but they’re not letting a pesky little thing like that get in the way.

Second is the legality of buying iPads with bond-committed money of 25 years when the product has a lifespan of 3 to 5 years.

Third, the LAUSD is paying $678 each, which is more than a store price.

Fourth, the pre-downloads of educational software are only “partially developed.”

Fifth, some members of the Bond Oversight Committee wrapped their heads around the purchase approval, citing that the computers’ installations in a lab setting, wherein the children would not be removing them from the classroom, would conform to the bond spending rules.

Surprise: Tablets are not lab computers; they will be going home with the students.

Sept. 3 headline: “In iPad project key need emerges.”

Oops. The “best” forgot to include the cost of keyboards with each of the $678-plus iPads.

They calculate buying tablets for 650,000 students, and they’ll need $38 million more for keyboards.

Taxpayers can be comforted knowing that a Board of Education committee “is tracking the iPad initiative” because they want to be sure the public knows they are being “transparent.”

Sept. 26 headline: “Who pays if students lose, break iPads?”

What?

I guess that’s problem six.

This scenario was not a topic of consideration by the well-paid “best?” The educators are actually starting to ask, “Are parents liable if their child breaks or loses the tablet?”

The question seemed to arise only after the district became aware that about 300 students had already “skirted security measures” to visit unauthorized websites.

After all of the events, senior district officials have no decision on the consequences of lost or damaged tablets.

Well, what about misuse? Any penalty or consequences? The tablets are solely meant for classroom-educational applications.

The referenced article drifted from some officials pointedly saying the kidsor parents should not be financially responsible, to the directive that in the case of a stolen tablet, they will definitely not be liable.

They don’t want the kids risking injury to save the iPad from a thief.

So, who will know if one or many of 650,000 iPads will be sold for cash or “stuff,” or simply abused because there are no consequences?

Problem seven: Who will pay to replace potentially thousands of iPads?

Reportedly the LAUSD contract with Apple is that Apple will replace for three years only all tablets lost or stolen once the costs reach 5 percent of the contract’s value.

That’s about $25,000, and again, that cap exists only if this damage is done within less than three years from now.

Problem eight is not who pays the $25,000.  That is simply the taxpayers, and that’s no problem at all.

 

Betty Arenson has lived in the SCV since 1968 and describes herself as a conservative who’s concerned about progressives’ politics and their impacts on the country, her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She says she is unashamed to own a gun or a Bible, couldn’t care less about the color of the president’s skin, and demands that he uphold his oath to protect and follow the Constitution of the United States in its entirety. Her commentary publishes Fridays.

 

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