iDon’t believe it

Apple Inc. makes some pretty cool stuff. The iPad is a home run for Apple. It’s luxurious, high tech, and infinitely cooler than pretty much anything else on the planet. So cool, in fact that from now on I’m going to refer to my iPhone 4 as my iPad Nano. If you want to score a new pair of Pumas on Ebay or program grid-friendly charging times for your Chevrolet Volt, hey! There’s an app for that.

Perhaps this is why the Clark County School District thought it a good idea to shell out $1.1 million on them.

KTNV Channel 13 Las Vegas was the first to break this story, reporting that in the last six months, the Clark County School District has spent a whopping $1.1 million on iPads. During the interview, associate superintendent Andre Denson tried to put the taxpayer’s fears to rest by insisting that “a lot of our iPads are purchased through grant money.” Well, it depends on how you define “a lot.” More than $800,000 of the iPad money came from the school district’s general fund. That’s a lot of money just to make sure Mr. Smith the kindergarten teacher can FaceTime with his principal.

The iPad is a marvelous piece of technology, and there are a few things to be considered here. There are undoubtedly specific applications where this tool could prove invaluable. “iPads are more a textbook tool than a computing tool,” says a local teacher. “iPads are wonderful to use with special needs students who are autistic or suffer from focus issues. They instantly offer direct access to books at a student’s particular grade level, and for those with special educational needs, they can even come in an audio book form.”

I spoke with two teachers and one administrator, and I can say there are definite advantages to bringing this technology into our schools. Gov. Sandoval has repeatedly called for more accountability for our teachers, and the iPad can assist in this. There is no other tool out there that has specific software that allows school principals to evaluate classrooms, chart goals, and provide feedback to our teachers, all in real time. With an average cost of $600, I’m OK with that.

So iPads are excellent with special needs kids and with select administrators who can use them to enrich their work. There is no doubt, in certain areas, they will help improve our schools. My question is, wouldn’t these specialized areas fall under the requirements for the grant money out there? Why do we need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on iPads for regular classrooms that don’t need them?

For years now, the left has wailed that education in Nevada has been annihilated. Not a cent left to cut. Those who dare question the need for massive tax increases to “completely fund education” hate kids and want to turn us into a third world country with a workforce forever beholden to the evil forces of gaming and mining.

Nobody is disputing the fact that Nevada’s education system desperately needs improvement, and technological upgrades will be an essential component to improving it. However, the money must be spent judiciously.

Last year, Wired magazine highlighted a study which found that iPad owners are “selfish elites” who are “six times more likely to be well-educated, power-hungry, over-achieving, unkind and non-altruistic 30-50 year olds.” Nevada’s quality of education ranks last in the nation, and still some of the people in charge think it’s a good idea to waste taxpayer dollars on iPads for people who don’t need them, while wailing about how we need a tax increase to pay for things like safety scissors and crayons. I don’t think all iPad owners are power-hungry, unkind, non-altruistic 30-50 year olds, but the Clark County School District administrators who authorized this purchase fit the bill to an “i.”