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You Know I'm Right | Commentary by Betty Arenson
| Friday, Oct 11, 2013

bettyarensonWhen I wrote last week’s commentary, “Paying for the Best,” I didn’t intend a Part 2. However, since the subject involves bureaucrats blowing taxpayer money, how could I possibly have been so short-sighted as not to think it would be an ongoing saga?

The essence of Part 1 is as follows:

Have 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.

The specific example given was the Los Angeles Unified School District spending more than $1 billion providing Apple iPads for 650,000 LAUSD students. The dispersing started with schools in poor areas but is quickly spreading to all.

This appears to be the brainchild of LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy.

The LAUSD agreed to pay $678 for each iPad tablet, which is more expensive than going to the store.

Naturally the initial purchase, cited as $500,000, was only one part of the expense. Wiring must be installed, if not updated, on all campuses, and there will be special teacher instructional training, etc.

Early on, it was reported that the “best” overlooked the need for keyboards. Days later, district officials said they knew of the need “one year ago” and “all along.”  Whatever the story, the need will cost taxpayers an additional $38 million.

The L.A. Times reports the figure as “modest.”

It didn’t take long for the headline, “Questions Dog L.A. Unified’s iPad Rollout,” to appear.

Evidently someone signing up taxpayers to foot more than $1 billion of their hard-earned money was the easy part.

There was a question of the legality of using school bond money for the expenditures. The bond was not intended for that.

The oversight committee reluctantly agreed citing that the tablets would be a classroom utility. Once the OK was there, it was announced the kids would be taking them home.

The question was asked if students or parents would be financially liable. That remains undecided with the LAUSD, but sane people know who’s going to pay for the units.

Taxpayers will likely never know how many tablets end up being sold on the street.

The pre-downloads of educational software are only “partially developed.”

Some of the students hacked through the security system to prohibited sites.

Some are asking if this whole roll-out was too hurried. Hurried? No, Unfettered, unplanned, careless, wasteful and stupid are more accurate descriptors.

The plagues continue.

* There are conflicting ideas on what kind of keyboards are needed considering the mandated testing facing the schools;

* Many teachers aren’t able to access to the Internet;

* Some tablets have been taken back from students with apparently no defined protocol in place as to why some had to surrender them and others didn’t;

* Some students cannot take the units home, while others can;

* Some kids simply bypassed the security with two clicks. One young abuser who was called into a principal’s office was a candidate for valedictorian;

* Many users said some systems crashed; Bernadette Lucas, director of the program, said that she knows nothing about any crashes, and the students “might be mistaken”;

* Overall, teachers, students and parents claim they are getting a lot of mixed and conflicting information.

One would think that in spending more than $1 billion, directives an protocol would be finite. Especially with all of the whining about school budgets and underfunding.

It is sickening.

The sickness is outdone only by the statements of LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy on October 1, 2013.

“This is a civil rights issue,” he said, referring to providing poverty-stricken kids “with tools that heretofore only rich kids have had.”

That is interesting, considering that the poor kids will need their homes wired to accommodate the iPads they take home, and if the rich are to be excluded, why is the LAUSD buying iPads for all 650,00 district students?

Deasy also said he “couldn’t be more pleased to get (the tablets) in the hands of students and teachers. … The feedback has been extremely positive.”

“It’s an astonishing success,” he added.

Well, he’s half right; it is astonishing.

And you heard it from one of the best.

 

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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