The Los Angeles schools' billion-dollar big idea to give every kid an iPad has skidded to an embarrassing stop after the first recipients -- including a valedictorian candidate -- figured out a way to crack the security imposed on the devices to play games like Temple Run.
LA Unified School District is now demanding the $US678 gadgets back as the games-playing -- and Facebook-posting and Twitter-using -- speak to a plan big on good intentions and thin on sensible execution.
The Associated Press reported on the fiasco over the weekend, quoting laughing teenagers describing the games they or their classmates were playing. One freshman explained how hella easy it was: go to the settings, delete the profile put on the device by the school district, set up an Internet connection. Presto.
"They kind of should have known this would happen," student Maria Aguilera told the A.P. "We're high school students after all. I mean, come on."
Yesterday students at three high schools were told to surrender the iPads and kids at other schools are not allowed to take them home, reports the LA Times. The initial rollout went to 47 campuses in the district; the A.P. reported that more than 300 students were able to crack the security on the iPads.
One of them is -- or maybe was -- a candidate for valedictorian. It stands to reason that the smart ones would be the first to test this thing's limits, no?
"He wasn't threatening me but he told me millions of dollars of technology had been compromised because of me," the student told the Times.
This is kind of a big deal because the iPads were not supplied by some do-gooder benefactor opening his or her wallet. It's being funded by school bonds, $US500 million for the iPads, another $US500 million for infrastructure. One guy on the committee overseeing the spending says "the district hurried the iPad rollout."
The program's advocates are adamant about its necessity; LA Unified's superintendent today called it an "astonishing success" and said he viewed it as a "civil rights issue.
"My goal is to provide youth in poverty with tools that heretofore only rich kids have had. And I'd like to do that as quickly as possible." Just don't be surprised when they use the things the way rich kids do too, I guess.