S.F. schools’ iPad handout pivots from L.A.’s $1.3 billion scandal

By Jill Tucker | SF Chronicle

Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez, The Chronicle
Eric Mendez, right, and his son, Eric, 7, use the iPad given to them by
the San Francisco Unified School District to do his studying at home
in San Lorenzo, Calif., on Thursday, May 7, 2015. iPads were given to
first graders in four San Francisco schools through a donation made
by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
From 350 miles north, San Francisco school officials watched the $1.3 billion iPad program in Los Angeles schools implode amid allegations of illegal spending, improper bidding on contracts and software bugs, not to mention students hacking the devices to bypass security blocking social media and other online sites.

Then those same San Francisco district leaders bought a bunch of iPads and started handing them out in schools up here. But they’d learned lessons from Los Angeles.

Instead of loaning kids tablets to take home, San Francisco’s Digital Literacy program is giving them to families for free, loaded with hundreds of books, learn-to-read software and educational games, and with open-ended access to the Internet. After the parents go through a training, the iPads are theirs to keep, no strings attached, and students are then able to access the same books and reading programs at home as they do at school.

And the district is starting small. Instead of blanketing schools with the tablets as L.A. did, San Francisco is starting in five schools and working only with first-grade classrooms and families. So far, there are sets of iPad Mini tablets in each first-grade class at the five schools. And 155 parents who have gone through or are currently enrolled in the training have received iPads.

Read more at www.sfusd.edu