LOS ANGELES (AP) — The nation's second-largest school district has begun providing iPads to its students, hoping to boost achievement and put low-income students on a footing with wealthier ones.
The computer tablets were distributed Tuesday at the Los Angeles Unified School District's Broadacres Avenue Elementary in Carson and Cimarron Elementary in Hawthorne, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Over the next two weeks, the LAUSD plans to distribute iPads at 45 other campuses. It's part of a $1 billion effort to put iPads into the hands of 650,000 students over the next year.
The iPads were welcomed enthusiastically at Cimarron, where 70 percent of the students are from low-income families.
"This is going to level the playing field as far as what schools are doing throughout the district," Principal Cynthia M. Williams said.
The district is paying a relatively steep $678 per iPad but each comes loaded with educational software. The students will be permitted to take them home.
"It gives us the sense of hope that these kids are being looked after, that they're now able to move into the future," said Dwayne Loughridge, a parent who works as a Broadacres campus aide. "It gives them a sense of aspiration and inspiration ... that we're not left out."
Students had some work and some play with the tablets.
Broadacres second-grader Beautiful Morris dressed up an image of her face with photo distortion effects.
"I'm having fun on this iPad," she said.
The tablets were an exciting innovation for Cimarron third-grade teacher Tiffany DeCoursey.
"At the beginning of the year you usually have arts and crafts projects," DeCoursey said.
"Now they can create movies. If they have a burning question and I don't have an answer, now they can Google. It's literally going to bring the world into the classroom, but positively."
School construction bonds will cover most of the cost of the iPads and other expenses such as installing campus wireless networks.
The appointed Bond Oversight Committee narrowly endorsed the project despite concerns over the legality of buying iPads with long-term bonds originally earmarked for more fixed, building-related projects.