Apple Lands Important Deal for 30,000 iPads in LA Schools

| Analysis

Apple has landed a US$30 million deal to supply 30,000 iPads to Los Angeles schools. The Los Angeles School Board of Education approved the deal Tuesday evening as part of a program to equip all of its students with a tablet iPad over the next 14 months.

iPad in Education

“The Board voted unanimously for Apple because iPad rated the best in quality, was the least expensive option and received the highest scoring by the review panel that included students and teachers,” Jaime Aquino, LAUSD Deputy Superintendent of Instruction, said in a statement. “The vote is another step forward in the District’s plan to equip every one of its students with a device by 2014. When completed, the LAUSD will become the largest district in the nation to provide each of its students with the technology.”

The Nuts & Bolts

Apple was stoked enough about this deal to issue a press release. While Apple named the dollar amount for the deal—$30 million—the company didn't announce how many iPads were included. The Daily Breeze, however, pegged the number at 30,000 units.

Some back-of-the-napkin math shows that $30 million for 30,000 iPads is $1,000 per iPad, but The Daily Breeze pegged the actual price at $678 per unit. The total cost also includes the hiring of 15 "facilitators" by the district, as well as maintenance and support, an important aspect of any education deal involving computers.

Software is also included in the price: the iPads will come pre-installed with the Pearson Common Core System of Courses that will be deployed in the form of a new app for the education market. Some unspecified other third party education apps will also be pre-installed, as will Apple's own iWork and iLife suites, and iTunes.

The Vote

The Board voted 6-0 for the deal, with two members abstaining because they own Apple stock. As part of their abstentions, they left the room during the discussion of the deal.

The district received a dozen proposals that were then narrowed to three. One was Apple's, while a solutions provider called Arrey Jones had two separate proposals based on Dell tablets and HP tablets, both of which ran Windows 8.

As noted above, Apple's solution scored higher with everyone and their brother, but a Microsoft representative named Robyn Hines addressed the board, criticizing the decision.

The Irony

Here's the kicker: the MS rep suggested that the Board of Educators split the proposal into two halves, one for Apple's iPad and one for one of the Arrey Jones proposals (The Daily Breeze didn't specify which of the two).

The Board of Educators was having none of it, however, arguing that it would be more expensive to maintain two platforms. Deputy Superintendent Jaime Aquino also said that maintaining one platform would make it easier for kids and teachers to change campuses, and that it would be easier to archive all of the students work and records.

It's a complete 180 degrees from the days when IT departments and some school boards argued the same thing, but as a reason to keep Apple's Macintosh computers out of schools. Oh, sweet irony, you are a harsh mistress.

The Big Picture

As noted above, this is merely the first phase of this program for the L.A. school district. It turns out there are a lot of students in that town, and the Board of Educators wants all of them to have an iPad within 14 months. Not just any tablet, either, an iPad.

Apple sells a lot of iPads already. More than 10 million per quarter for the last several quarters. 30,000 units or $30 million is insignificant to Apple's bottom line, but this is an opportunity for the company to show that a device like the iPad can have a meaningful impact on students and teachers alike when used in a comprehensive approach.

If this program is successful, it will lead to additional iPad sales to other schools throughout the world. That's more units sold and untold numbers of kids who are exposed to Apple devices. More importantly, it will hopefully mean brighter kids who got a better education in the process.

Image made with help and help from Shutterstock.

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Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Prediction: this does absolutely nothing on test scores, dropout rates, or graduation rates in the LAUSD over the next three years. And that won’t be Apple’s fault or despite Apple’s best efforts. The problem is in the water.

Bryan Chaffin

Brad, you make a great point. Tablets—or any technology—are not a panacea.

I think, though, that tablets have a lot of potential for education. The biggest thing I’ve consistently come back to is that they allow for all of the benefits of connected devices—highlightable textbooks, searchable textbooks, tests delivered from a server, accessible grades for students and their parents, etc.—without putting a literal wall between the student and teacher.

That’s a massive advantage, IMO, no matter what the flavor of tablet (clearly I favor the iPad, but that’s not the point).

I hope that this will translate into improved performance.

I remember some data showing that students with school laptops missed less school and had better test results. I don’t remember the specifics, but it’s been on my mind.


“this does absolutely nothing on test scores, dropout rates, or graduation rates in the LAUSD..”

“Tablets—or any technology—are not a panacea.”

Complete nonsense from both of you!  Recent studies demonstrate that access to a computer, internet, and computerized learning tools have already made a significant difference amongst students, whose economic situations would not otherwise allow them to have such tools.

Brad’s [...], but I’m surprised at you, Bryan. I thought you would at the very least look it up; do some homework, so to speak.

[Edited by Bryan]

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

iJack [...], place a wager. I offered a statement you can put money against, rather than citing meaningless studies that ignore the context here (LAUSD, a giant man-made disaster). I don’t think you have the cojones to place a bet against my statement. And if you do, just write the check now. My statement had nothing to do with the value of these things in any study setting at all.

[Edited by Bryan]

Bryan Chaffin

The name calling stops now.

iJack, I accept the criticism. I was in a hurry when I posted, but I did note that I remembered data showing positive results for student laptop programs. In particular I remember there were higher test results and lower rates of absence.

I also believe that technology alone won’t solve all of our education problems.  Class size matters, teacher salaries matter, parental involvement matters, cultural emphasis on the value of education is important…

But I am delighted at this program.

I also think that Brad has a point about the next three years, at least enough of one that I wouldn’t want to wager. Five years? I’ll take that bet.  I’d throw in homework scores and attendance/truancy rates, too. Ten years? For sure (ignoring the likelihood of further disruptive change that might make this particular issue moot).

The longer this program is in place, the more benefit it will bring, even in the LAUSD. Three y



A letter written to the Los Angeles Times from a Middle School Principal…

At Palms Middle School in the Los Angeles Unified School District, where I am the principal, we started purchasing iPads three years ago for the classroom. We started with one science class, and our teachers researched educational software (which was less abundant then) and set protocols for care and use in the classroom.

The iPads transformed the class. Students were working on projects in cooperative groups, excited to talk about what they were doing and handling the equipment with the utmost of care.

Oh, and did I mention that test scores went up?

Bonnie Murrow


Oh, and…

After 1 year; Study Finds iPads in the Classroom Boost Test Scores

After three years;
“see not only high levels of student engagement, but also high levels of student collaboration”
“direct impact on not only the quantity of student work, but the quality as well”


So yeah, Brad, I’ll take that bet.


My three daughters go to a fairly rural school, and we were lucky enough to get iPads for K-8 for 100% of the students this past school year.  A few years ago, the high school students got netbooks, and the experience from what I have heard has not been very good, from both the student as well as the administration perspective.  Needless to say, the high school students were a bit upset that they have to keep the netbooks while the younger students got iPads.  My 14 year old will keep her iPad as she enters high school, and will use it throughout the next four years.  My 11 and 9 year olds will use their current iPads and will get upgraded ones throughout their schooling.  The students did have to turn in their iPads at the end of the school year in May, and each will get their own back in the fall.

I can’t really comment on test score impact yet, as it has only been a single school year, but I will say that the benefits from the use of iPads were very obvious.  Even though not all textbooks were electronic yet, I began to notice that a lot of times my daughters weren’t bringing any books home.  After noticing this, I asked them why I wasn’t seeing any books, and they said, “Our teacher lets us use the iPad to take pictures of the chapters that we are studying.”  The cool factor of the iPads got all the kids more excited for school.  The interactive books and electronic quizzes were pretty amazing, from what I saw looking over my daughters’ shoulders.  There was more interaction between my daughters and their teachers via email, and the teachers were all very committed to responding to the kids.  Of course, our school averages 20-30 students per teacher, so this makes it a lot easier for them.  I was concerned that the iPads would be used more for social connectivity (iMessaging), and with my 14 year old this was very evident.  But when I would try to ‘catch her messaging while doing homework I rarely was able to, and when I did, she would show me that they were discussing school work.  My daughters are straight A students, so we’ve distilled in them the importance of school work, so I don’t know if the iPads helped the average student, but I don’t know how they couldn’t have, and for sure it didn’t hurt their learning.

I won’t say that the iPads weren’t a distraction at times either, but the teachers understood this and I think did a decent job at controlling this.  Besides the basic learning aspect of iPads, what really jumped out at me was the creative side of learning.  School curriculum included video and presentation creation as part of their school work, and my daughters really got excited working on these projects.  They picked up the software very quickly, but of course they were used to the iMac at home, as well as their iPod Touches.  The principal walked around with his own iPad, and took pictures and videos and posted them to the school website and to the school Facebook page.

I could go on and on, but in the interest of time (and needing to get ready for work), I will say that iPad use in schools will fundamentally change the way children learn, and will better prepare them for careers.  There is no doubt in my mind that this will happen over time.  There were issues with the software at times, but this is to be expected.  Teachers were very understanding of this.  I wasn’t crazy about some of the controls they had in place (we couldn’t connect via iTunes to the school iPads of course, but we also couldn’t access them like a camera, so we had a mad dash the weekend before turning them in at the end of the school year trying to get pictures and videos off of them).  I was able to use photo stream to get the pictures off them, but had to email videos, sometimes in 1 minute chunks).  I so look forward to the new photo streaming that supports videos now!!  grin

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)


Mark your calendar 3 years from now. If LAUSD scores, graduation rates, dropout rates, teen pregnancy rates, clogged toilet rates, whatever you want to measure are improved by any statistically significant amount, I will donate $250 to your school’s booster program. And if I win (which I will), I’ll send you a “Futility” motivational poster.

Lost on everyone here… the issue is not the tablets. I’m glad you all feel so good about them, especially the education pros. Teacher engagement is by far the most important thing for improving student outcomes. The issue is LAUSD. It is a behemoth that sucks control and creativity from the hundreds of local areas it controls. A minor issue is the whole technocratic approach to learning that has bought us nothing since Bush’s silly NCLB took hold.

Bonnie, you are reading a tide chart in the middle of major storm coincident with a tsunami. Best of luck to you. Of course, I hope/wish you’re right, but I also know that LAUSD will find some way to suck all potential benefits from this initiative. When, in the past 30 years, hasn’t it?




I am not Bonnie, I simply posted a letter she wrote to the Los Angeles Times. The simple fact that you didn’t notice it means you probably didn’t read the letter.

You obviously missed the fact that these iPads have been in her school (part of the LAUSD) for 3 years already and the results have shown much improvement.

“Teacher engagement is by far the most important thing for improving student outcomes”

Lost on you is the fact that technology (iPads or not) helps teacher and student communication and interaction, it also helps parent and teacher communication, it also helps parents because they can see what their kids are doing and how well they are doing.

You’re absolutely correct that technology cannot make anyone a better student. However, using “cool” new learning tools has ALWAYS been more engaging to students and in turn leads to their willingness to learn. And finding easier and quicker ways for everyone to communicate and interact is highly beneficial to people with busy lives.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I am not Bonnie, I simply posted a letter she wrote to the Los Angeles Times. The simple fact that you didn’t notice it means you probably didn’t read the letter.

Actually, it means I read the email notification, and the formatting of that made it difficult to see what you’d done there. OK?

So, if you want to rely on studies and a testimonial, and not consider what we’re actually betting on, I’ll be happy to take your money. Please send your full name and contact information to Bryan. $50. I’m sure he’ll put a note in his calendar 3 years from today.

FYI, I’ve made a good deal of money on software I’ve written being sold to schools and school districts. Sometimes a al carte and stand-alone. Sometimes with large professional development packages attached. The biggest successes were achieved where there was lots of room to improve AND we had a substantial PD package attached. Looking at the numbers on this initiative, I’m not seeing it in proportion.


The article is all wrong. LAUSD is a huge district with more then 30 thousands student. The contract so far is for only 30 schools.

And no, just the purchase of te iPads will not be enough. You need training and curriculum to support teaching but being an lAUSD employee I doubt they will provide any of that.



The article is all wrong. LAUSD is a huge district with more then 30 thousands student. The contract so far is for only 30 schools.

From the article:

{quote]“The vote is another step forward in the District’s plan to equip every one of its students with a device by 2014. When completed, the LAUSD will become the largest district in the nation to provide each of its students with the technology.”

The 30,000 iPads are just the first step in a fourteen-month long plan to roll out the technology to all students in the district. As for the effectiveness? Time will tell, but I feel the interactive learning experiences provided by iPads will be far superior to students sitting still at their desks while a teacher drones on and on at a chalkboard. It’s too easy for students to zone out under that scenario. So I think that, yes, there will be benefits, especially as this generation of students grew up surrounded by such technology. It is their native environment.


Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Here’s an update on the LAUSD fondle-slabs.,0,6974454.story

Hilarious. This whole thing was obviously not thought out well by the vendor or the district. Not reflected in the article is the further evolution of this horse pucky where the administrators think they can sit all these students down and teach them about “appropriate usage” of the devices. E.g. no Facebook or Twitter even on their own time. #Joke

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