iPads, or iProblems?
December 13, 2010
Filed under Opinion
Good news to anyone who still might think that our school has money problems: the Skyline administration is now iFabulous!
All five Skyline administrators are now fitted with iPads. According to Mr. Trinh, these high-tech toys are to be used to evaluate teacher performance through observation. They need iPads to observe classrooms.
“We basically observe. We give teacher feedback, and just observe the classroom climate,” said Mr. Trinh.
Principal Johnston was able to give me a far more detailed explanation.
“[The iPad] helps us in a great many ways,” he told me as he scrolls through the options. “We are able to note who’s talking [in a classroom] and for how long. We can also take notes right there.”
As a student, I probably lack the mental power (probably because I haven’t bought enough Apple products) to comprehend the magnitude of these “observations,” but it occurs to me that the same process has been undertaken before with less fancy equipment. The first viable replacements that come to mind are a legal pad, a ballpoint pen, and a stopwatch. Although, I suppose you can’t play Doodle Jump on a piece of paper.
The exact extent of this expenditure is of some concern. As some readers might be aware, the iPad comes in several different memory sizes. The more gigabytes, the more you have to shell out to Steve Jobs. According to Mr. Johnston, the administrators purchased the “mid-range” model: 32 gigabytes.
Mr. Johnston adamantly informed me that he bought his own iPad, along with everything else in his office. However, the iPads for the other four administrators were purchased with school money, albeit at a $40 discount for each one. According to the Apple Education Store, that’s a grand total of $2,662.61. Tax included. However, shipping was free — so it’s not all bad.
Here’s a few suggestions as to how that money could be put to arguably better, yet far less snazzy, use:
With that money, we could purchase…
- 107 bottles of grout cleaner (amazon.com)
- 500 bottles of toilet cleaner (drugstore.com)
- 625 packages of toilet paper (soap.com)
- 30 freshman biology textbooks (mhhe.com)
- 4 LCD projectors (bestbuy.com)
- 96 music stands (amazon.com)
- 24 room heaters (amazon.com)
- 3 drinking Fountains (discountcrowdcontrol.com)
I know what you’re saying, that this is just an attempt to give our administration a hard time. And you’re absolutely right. I’m sure that these iPads serve some greater purpose than I was able to extract from the administration. However, it comes down to priorities.
Would it be a pain in the rear to do what those iPads can do by hand? Yes, of course it would be. But how about having students sitting in frigid rooms, science teachers paying out of pocket for supplies, and fostering a performing arts department that has been reusing the same set pieces for the greater part of the last decade? Those pains-in-the-collective-rear of the student body should be placed higher than the new policies of the administration.
“I want to be able to give my staff the best possible tools to do their job,” Mr. Johnston says. And it was the real earnestness with which that was delivered that impressed me most.
I don’t want to diminish the importance of the administration, but I feel that there is a shortcoming here. Shouldn’t your top priority as an educator, and a citizen, be giving students the best possible tools?
A point that was made to me (or more appropriately, at me), by our principal was that the iPad was significantly less expensive than a Mac Book Air, or other alternatives. He then indicated a Mac Book Air on his desk.
The administrators at Skyline catch a whole lot of flack, from this particular periodical in particular. However, they’re are all doing their best, and I’m not trying to sway people to lose sight of that. What’s far more important is that we as a school, and more importantly as a community start to prioritize education. Are classroom visits more important than quality textbooks? Do we really need to set a up a stringent academy system, or do we need to invest more in the core we already had?
These are tough questions, but you better go see the principal in person; Wi-Fi coverage up here is a killer.