An iPad for every student by 2015

Grades 3-5 receive devices this fall, middle-schoolers next year

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

The first rollout of iPad tablets will begin this fall in grades 3-5. The expansion continues in the 2014-2015 school year at the middle schools. The total cost for the iPads — along with software, accessories and staff development — comes to roughly $2 million.

It is among the largest investments in technology D97 has made to date. And according to Superintendent Al Roberts and other officials, it should not come as a huge surprise to the public.

The district's successful 2011 referendum campaign included a promise to invest more in technology. Since then, the district has spent money on such things as smart boards, tech specialists, staff training and software — including about a half-million dollars on the FastForWord computer program. In 2008, the district launched a five-year tech plan, at the time estimated to cost around $4 million.

D97 kindergarteners have been using iPads since 2011. The devices are also used in some first- and second-grade classrooms and were purchased by the PTOs.

Roberts, who was hired in 2010 as the district was gearing up for its referendum campaign, insists these investments are necessary for student learning.

"I don't think we can delay on school reform," Roberts said at an Aug. 6 D97 board meeting where the topic was discussed. "And this, in my way of thinking, is the fastest and most powerful way we can move forward with authentic reform."

The iPad plan still needs board approval — a vote is scheduled for Aug. 20. The rollout would include an annual $22 technology fee per device for families. For low-income families, the district will help cover that fee cost.

At the Aug. 6 meeting where the proposal was discussed, board members were generally pleased with the overall plan. But there were some questions about the cost and the tech fee. The early September rollout may not be enough time to get parents up to speed about the devices, some board members noted.

In response, Roberts said the administration would look to tweak the rollout period, possibly pushing it back to a late-September start.

"The timing is going to be an issue for some parents," said board member Peter Traczyk, who generally liked the plan. "I think if they saw the overall plan, it wouldn't be an issue, but I think you're going to freak people out. And I couple that with my concern that the staff won't be ready. … I just feel like we're going to be freaking people out with this kind of quick rollout."

D97 board member Denise Sacks, who supports the plan, also had concerns about the timing. But she noted a positive impact the devices can have on equity.

"One of the biggest things for me is the way this improves access for all of our students — the equality factor that comes into play here for students who don't have parents with iPhones, who don't have iPads or laptops. I think it's easy to forget about that, and this gives them a way to be in on that."

The district will spend about $10,000 in the first year and about double that in year two, to cover the cost for low-income families, explained Lisa Schwartz, D97's director of instruction and assessment.

The iPad expansion, however, will not include first- and second-graders at this point, said D97 spokesperson Chris Jasculca.

The district, he said, wants to wait and see how this extension goes before expanding it further.

"We want to look at how the technology is utilized and implements, and how this will impact student achievement. As you know, technology can change to the point where what you bought five years ago can become outdated very quickly," he said. "This will give us a chance to test the iPads and study their effectiveness."

PDF of iLearn 97 Overview


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Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 19th, 2013 3:56 PM

Not a bad price for an iPad -$22. How many iPads can a kid - or family - have replaced when they get "lost"? For $22, my kid might "lose" a couple of them. I guess if they break, the iPad would have to be given back to the district to be replaced, but if they are lost, well, they are lost and nothing can be proven. Hard to prove that one was "lost".


Posted: August 19th, 2013 2:35 PM

It looks like the $22 a head annual technology fee to be paid by those who can pay will subsidize this effort for those who can't pay. Is there any cap on the fees the district can charge, or is this tech fee likely to go up each year?

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 19th, 2013 2:01 PM

Progressive - The "well-to-do" parents are generally already paying higher property taxes to support the schools. Suggesting that their own children should not benefit from this initiative while they pay for it is probably not the best answer. Again, the vast majority of school districts do not provide their students with IPads, so the least complex solution is to employ proven, research-based teaching methods that don't require an IPad.

Progressive from Oak Park  

Posted: August 19th, 2013 11:51 AM

Why not employ some sort of means-testing, so the well-to-do parents purchase the iPad for their own kids, and lesser-off are subsidized by others?

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 19th, 2013 10:47 AM

"We know it hasn't just been the iPads. We have done a ton of professional development on literacy best practices, math best practices, and educational technology best practices. But what this data does tell us, is that when we combine teachers with professional development and 1to1 iPads, then our students learn more, faster." If this is the model for D97's initiative, it looks promising. Still largely anecdotal feedback, but I'm impressed by this district's transparency.

Auburn, ME  

Posted: August 19th, 2013 9:38 AM

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 19th, 2013 9:14 AM

I really don't care by whom the decision is made, if it's a good decision. But I'd like decisions about major expenditures to be driven by research and data, as should all instructional decisions. Where is the data that indicates giving every student an IPad improves outcome? Can anyone name a district where this has been done? If so, how has student performance improved? This is Curriculum and Development 101. Is there any reason to imagine that this is a good idea?


Posted: August 19th, 2013 8:08 AM

Does anyone at D97 pay attention to the tax bills in this town? What are they doing to make living in Oak Park affordable for the parents of these IPAD carrying students. That is my first issue. Second, flashing screens and too much technology are ruining the minds of kids (and grown ups!) As much as I love my IPAD, I can't support increasing this serious addiction.


Posted: August 19th, 2013 6:15 AM

Also, having worked on the tech plan at Lab and Latin in Chicago, it is very hard to do this with 30 voices/people/large committee. OP 97 should engage 3-4 person committee - on Board member, three others who actually have done this - then meet for revisions - not the other way around. Too many people who have too many interests of which many have no clude what they are talking about (well intentioned) - Still time tomake this a home run - but needs immediate work and lots of management/oves


Posted: August 19th, 2013 6:09 AM

First, 97 has done poor job of communication - why, benefits, plan, measurement. If OP is serious - create something new - virtual classrooms, new ways to engage problem solving with teachers, gifted training, remedial training, - core issue is people have no trust OP 97 will execute - and is in full control of scope of project... this is all about leadership, vision and THEN tactical execution/implementation.


Posted: August 19th, 2013 6:04 AM

For those not familar, 97 formed a tech committee that was designed to provide strategy and vision - included parents/teachers/tech staff. What happened was comments were accepted but Roberts made the decision. So by the time it was presented to board it was done deal. The purchase of IPADS in not the issue (many schools have it) - the issue is now what? Again, push the envelope, (something different) - not POT (plain old technology)- I am senior tech exec in $6BB software firm

Oakparker from Oak Park  

Posted: August 18th, 2013 11:26 PM

We've been hearing tales of woe from Districts 97 and 200 for 40 years+/-. This is just the latest reason to raise taxes. Yes, technology is the future; I knew that 30 years ago, but why can't parents rent the IPads instead of the taxpayers paying for them? Whatever IPad is purchased will be obsolete in a couple of years - will the taxpayers have to pay again when these become obsolete? If there is no wi-fi, how will apps be updated?


Posted: August 18th, 2013 5:03 PM

Not necessarily aimed at you, Manning...but public comment isn't the end-all-be-all of decision making though. There's research to go by, what current best practices is, information from experts to consider, public opinion, how the board member wants to vote themselves, etc.. The public should always give opinion, but I think people sometimes get confused that rounding up hundreds of people to rally to a cause will change realities on the ground.


Posted: August 18th, 2013 4:51 PM

OP, are you saying there is no point in the parents making public comment at the board meeting? I haven't done any "bod work" it's true and am not sure how it works.


Posted: August 18th, 2013 4:36 PM

@Manning any e-mails they received in time are usually in the agenda packet for VOP. See my 12:41 comment about D97...I don't follow those meetings as closely. I see public comments are included in the minutes when posted. No clue though what the policy or deadline for being included as an e-mail.


Posted: August 18th, 2013 4:30 PM

The decision to move forward was done behind the seen long ago as Board would never risk embarrassment. Steps - create clear communication plan - what, when, why etc. Review/revise tech strategy plan, include parents in first steps. This could work with the right leadership and execution. Not likely given the current board. ....


Posted: August 18th, 2013 4:26 PM

The decision was made before it was presented to the board. Clearly few of you do bod work. that said, the relevant question is how prepared is 97 to implement this and truly make it successful. The answer is not likely positive as CAO left over a year ago (forced out) and the real talent is at a few schools. Read the 97 parents group report - no innovation, no insight - many other districts are already doing are asking the worng questions.


Posted: August 18th, 2013 4:15 PM

@Yes!, I can't find public comment emailed to the school board on the district website. You implied in your post that you had read transcripts of such emails. Another made up statement for your specious arguments. I do agree that it's hard to have a serious conversation with a nameless troll pulling facts out of his or her butt.


Posted: August 18th, 2013 2:06 PM

@ Just Sayin' from Oak Park - That's hysterical!!! Thanks for the laugh :)


Posted: August 18th, 2013 12:47 PM

@Unfortunately Not all elected officials read WJ. But they do generally read their e-mail. Everyone should share their views, but then they have to look at the way the opinions generally fall and act accordingly.


Posted: August 18th, 2013 12:41 PM

Wow, Manning. Paranoid much? Thanks for providing an example of the kind of insane things people say on WJ that makes so many in this community openly mock the comments section! BTW, I don't follow D97 as closely as the Village. Emails as public testimony for that are usually attachments at the end of the agenda and public record.


Posted: August 18th, 2013 10:30 AM

So, Yes!, you read the transcripts of emails to the board? I was hoping you were just a troll, but it appears that you actually work for the district? Are you being compensated for your time posting on the WJ comment section?


Posted: August 18th, 2013 10:28 AM

@Yes! - I don't agree with your logic regarding the comments here. For one, I've attended AND commented at various bd meetings and found that I'd personally be better served by flapping my arms and trying to fly. With some exceptions, I have found that most of the well-intended individuals who serve on boards quickly adopt "group-think" and so debate ends. The OPRF Bus Mgr said that the surplus was "necessary" and not one Bd member publicly disagreed. FF? iPads? D97/OPRF needs a paid spokesman?


Posted: August 18th, 2013 8:31 AM

@Manning that was my larger pt about WJ. There may be 9 people here complaining, 10 people who go to a meeting, but 29 people who e-mail comments to board members. The transcripts of those are sometimes the most revealing. Fortunately, the public conversation is more than just here where it is hard to have a serious discussion.


Posted: August 17th, 2013 10:13 PM

Three days later, it's less hilarious to me that the district still hasn't figured out how to share a simple google doc.


Posted: August 17th, 2013 10:10 PM

140 comments later, and we have one poster (who is clearly no kind of technologist) in favor of this plan and many many others who have serious and valid questions about the timing, intent, safety, cost and necessity of such a plan. Serving on the board is a HUGE time commitment beyond the capacity of many families with young children and double careers, but showing up at a meeting and expressing your views isn't. I hope we will all bring our concerns to the board on Tuesday.


Posted: August 17th, 2013 9:16 PM

@Yes! - I understand your assessment of Ms Langer, but I should clarify the OPRF surplus issue by stating that it is not new and was ignored for a number of years. Well, the former Bus Mgr would sorta say things like "it is prudent to have this" and "we can't reduce the levy because then we'll be bankrupt in the near future!" it was the slow boil of the online WJ comments that finally made this a community issue - not public comments at Bd meetings. Now it's iPad's turn at the "Tech" Town-hall!


Posted: August 17th, 2013 7:02 PM

@OP Trans, fair enough on the job. @Unfortunately, I give Ms. Langer points for putting herself out there. But she lost big. And I'm not sure what election you were watching, but the candidates had fairly moderate positions on the surplus & wanted it studied...but that's hardly agreement with some of the radically dumb fiscal complaints that frequently get thrown around WJ. If I really have something serious to say I take it to an official public meeting. Most of what goes on here is just crazy.

Kelly from OP  

Posted: August 17th, 2013 3:51 PM

My primary issue with this proposal to give ipad minis to all kids grades 3-5 is that it was presented to the school board on August 6 with a vote to take place August 20. That doesn't allow enough time (especially during a summer month) for appropriate community input. The proposal does not answer: what are the consequences for students who violate the take home agreement? Who will monitor compliance? What happens if the costs of self-insurance exceed the projected costs? Why ipad minis?


Posted: August 17th, 2013 3:47 PM

@Yes. I'd like to address your comment from 2:48. 1.) Many of the people commenting on the iPads voted FOR the D97 referendum, but OPPOSE this large expense. 2.) To place Ms. Langer's 4% in perspective, the 4 new bd members won with only 11%-17%. 3.) Did you notice that almost every D200 candidate agreed with Ms Langer's opinion that the surplus was unwarranted and that there is now a cmte in place addressing this issue? 4.) The surplus was primarily debated on this WJ site - and now it's iPads.

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 17th, 2013 3:32 PM

Some of us have jobs that preclude the possibility of running for school board.


Posted: August 17th, 2013 2:48 PM

I'd like to see some of the constantly negative posters on the good old WJ comments section run for D97 board. Go big on being a financial hawk. Maybe you could do better than Barb Langer's 3.9% in the D200 election? ROTFLMAO

Completely Fed Up from OP  

Posted: August 17th, 2013 2:30 PM

@Memories: Yes. It's only a matter of time until the District starts declaring "It's for the Children" and holds Arts and Music hostage again and threatens cuts unless they raise taxes. Then they spend the new money on pet projects. How many times will people fall for this old bait-and-switch? Meanwhile, the extra money is spent on expensive new playgrounds, FastforWord, moving the admin offices, and Ipads for every student. Just be honest and let voters decide without the lies!!


Posted: August 17th, 2013 2:20 PM

What is really disappointing is the deceptive marketing campaigns that are used in this town by a handful of people to push their agenda on a well meaning, trusting community. Deception is not progressive, it is immoral. The unchecked spending on costly pet projects needs to stop. Just because we can spend doesn't mean we always should.

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 17th, 2013 1:44 PM

Textbooks do have a limited shelf life, but they cost a lot less than IPads. They're also less attractive to criminals. And you can drop your textbook and not have to buy a new one. I'm all for tech in the classroom. I've used tech in the classroom. I've taken graduate coursework on using tech in the classroom. The IPads are still a bad idea- expensive, fragile, and with no proven benefit.

Yes! is a sad shill from OP  

Posted: August 17th, 2013 1:38 PM

Yes! just keeps on shilling &sounding more like Silly all the time! I'm confident that after the lies of the last referendum play out, that the tide has turned in OP. This debacle-in-the-making from these iPads will seal the deal. The line between "wise investment" and "waste" can sometimes be thin, but it's clear that this is unnecessary waste and not fully thought through. You're the only cheerleader for the program where all others have reasonable concerns and doubts.


Posted: August 17th, 2013 1:09 PM

@OP Transplant, finally something we agree on! IMO, we should also be starting a program to teach students how to service their own technology so we get more life out of the investment. That's not going to happen with all these ipads. But even textbooks have a limited shelf life. That's just the nature of educational resources.


Posted: August 17th, 2013 1:04 PM

@sad shill, you see "waste." I see "wise investment." I live here because most people in this community understand the importance. I don't like your selfishness. You don't like mine. We'll both live. Kids having opportunities and resources is always going to win the public argument though. And rightly so. You think I'm wrong...but you're fighting upstream and you know it.

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 17th, 2013 12:06 PM

I also hope the board considers the issue of shelf-life. Will the IPad remain a leading-edge platform for the duration of this initiative? At what point is the district warehousing $2 mil worth of yesterday's technology? Are classroom sets of tablets to be used in certain subjects a more cost-effective option? My own kids lost interest in their IPad after about three months. It's sat unused for a year.

MichaelO from Oak Park  

Posted: August 17th, 2013 10:21 AM

An Oak Park pilot brings her son along on a flight to New York on Take Your Kid to work day. The kid's in the cockpit with his mom at the controls when the cabin suddenly loses pressure. In Oak Park fashion the Oak Park mom gives her oxygen mask to her son. Without oxygen the Oak Park pilot passes out and the flight, with 189 innocent passengers, plunges into Lake Michigan.

Just Sayin' from Oak Park  

Posted: August 17th, 2013 9:04 AM

I blame Carolina Song and that guy who got lost in the forest preserve for all of this....

Yes! is a sad shill from OP  

Posted: August 17th, 2013 9:01 AM

I agree that OP is a great place to live, Yes!, but it is great in spite of your "progressive" values, not because of them. If you moved here because D97 puts technology in every child's hands, you're getting your wish. However, our public schools won't be great for long if they continue to waste money and lie to the community. Again, people like you with your broken entitled attitude are the problem and you fuel D97's poor choices. It can't continue and reasonable people will stop it.

Economist from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 6:26 PM

Would that this were about cost cutting - but, unless it was overlooked by the reporter or covered in the non-functional pdf link, that doesn't seem to be the case. In fact, we are talking about additional costs for "staff development". I'm all for using technology to increase efficiency and productivity, but this seems more just like a public school version of conspicuous consumption.


Posted: August 16th, 2013 6:04 PM

And to think, just a few short years ago, D97's financial situation was so dire that Bravo, band and GTD teachers were all on the chopping block, according to the propaganda.

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 5:38 PM

You moved here for things like computers in the hands of every student? That hasn't even been voted on. You are either prescient or talking out your ass.


Posted: August 16th, 2013 4:45 PM

You're entitled to raise your kids anyway you want, "sad shill." We moved to Oak Park for the diversity, progressive values, and good schools that offer things like computers in the hands of every student. Contrary to the attitudes of some of the WJ comments trolls, Oak Park is generally a good place to live. We like it here! You do your thing though.

Yes! is a sad shill  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 4:23 PM

Yes! and her(?) ilk are the reason we don't send our kids to D97. That attitude from parents is the worst part of OP. My children get a quality, values-based education that includes technology but isn't dependant on it. By the way, my kids EARNED their iPads (used at home, for fun and for schoolwork) through hard work and know the value of them. Yes! apparently can't be bothered with waiting or having people earn things rather than being given them at others' expense. Pity her. Karma bites.


Posted: August 16th, 2013 2:40 PM

Only the best for my kid...on your dime! ;-) That's why we live here.


Posted: August 16th, 2013 2:24 PM

Let's get down to You want a 2 million dollar expenditure so your kiddo gets a 300 Ipad. It's shiny isn't it? Anyone else in your family getting an Ipad thanks to D97? What else was it you needed? ECC? Nice lobbying there. Free pre-school? Saw you with your hand out there too. You're like a teenager selling the benefits of an Iphone to a parent to help with, shopping, academics.saving money on gas. I'm in IT, It's expensive. We have IT in d97. why not use it. Not shiny enough?

my mom says im smart from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 2:22 PM

i use a ipad at school all the time there really good at video games and youtube videos. im the smartest kid in my class


Posted: August 16th, 2013 1:50 PM

OP Transplant, that's fine. I'll laugh at you. You laugh at me. We're even. Except my kid will have the ipad! I'm fine with that outcome.

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 1:43 PM

"Yes!" - I suggested yesterday that you're over your head. You prove it today by proposing that 1.5 mil students is a lot. I don't doubt you're "confident", to use your word, but you're still unable to cite any of the peer-reviewed studies you promised yesterday about the efficacy of IPods in the classroom. When you get a little older, you'll learn that you can be confident and still be wrong. Right now, you're entertaining us by embarrassing yourself. If you were my son, I'd advise you to stop.


Posted: August 16th, 2013 1:42 PM

@Unfortunately, I don't think ipad has been proven. Here's the rub...a tech geek like me just wants students to have SOMETHING. I've said ipad isn't my first choice. The problem is as soon as we open the discussion up to an alternative you get the anti-tech idiots piping up like on here. Districts are jumping on the ipad trend out of convenience and not wanting to swim upstream for a better solution. I don't blame them. An ipad in the hand is better than having to listen to some of this thread.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 1:36 PM

John Abbott - and I hope more of those who voted for the referendum last time remember that when D200 hits us up in a couple of years. I voted against the referendum because D97 didn't give me enough of a reason to vote for it. Threatening with teacher layoffs and program cuts isn't a big enough reason and an easy tagline in a town like OP that has enough resources that a tax hike isn't necessary except to sweeten the coffers for things like iPads and Fast Forward.


Posted: August 16th, 2013 1:34 PM

@Yes! Thanks, I looked at your link. No information, just names and numbers, but two of the names stood out to me: CPS and Palatine-Schaumburg (schools). Why? They are local school districts that, presumably, D97 is reviewing their performance - along with other local school districts. For instance, is Evanston trying this? Evanston has demographics similar to Oak Park. River Forest or Forest Park? Another question, why does D97 have a paid "spokesman?" Can't WJ just speak with Roberts directly?


Posted: August 16th, 2013 1:32 PM

Jeanine, I respect your desire for a traditional classroom setting. I think you should get that. But public school is about what's best for most kids. I'm not demanding it. My position is just conveniently in line with current educational trends. You'd be better to address that question to D97 about how they will keep a balance. I'm not against low-tech. High-tech is just better.


Posted: August 16th, 2013 1:29 PM

OP Transplant, obviously that's changing. (Oh noes! They're coming to Oak Park! Hide your kids! lol) Hey, I'm confident enough in my side that I'm just here to be amused by the technophobia. I don't care if you like the idea or not. Be Amish for all I care. Most of the world wants computers in the classroom. I'm not the backwards one here, that'd be you guys. Sorry if it's fun to make fun of you. I'm actually sad for some of you a little. (But not much.)

Jeanine Pedersen from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 1:27 PM

@Yes! Perhaps you would care to explain why tax payers of Oak Park should pick up the tab for your desire to have your child technologically immersed. If you want your child technologically immersed, have at it -- send them off to whatever classes you'd like and pay for it and the techno-toys yourself. I prefer a teacher to a computer. D97 says they have a technology plan, yet made a technological purchase of over $500,000 with FastForWord, a technology not compatible with the ipads they are now proposing to purchase.

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 1:09 PM

To "Yes!" - You are the king of the weasel words. You cite "approx 1.5 million" students, as though that's a big number, but you give it no context. It's actually slightly less than 2% of the 77 million students enrolled in American schools. The vast majority of American students aren't using IPads in the classroom. And yet, you act as though we're struggling to catch up. You're either shilling for Apple of for the district.


Posted: August 16th, 2013 1:06 PM

John, I never said economics and business wasn't at play. The link was from someone keeping track. I don't care if you don't want your kid to not get the benefit of intense immersion in technology. But you better believe you won't deprive my kid of that benefit. The key is I'm not the one trying to keep kids away from computers. I have nothing to defend since the district sounds like it's roughly on the right path. I'm not their proxy. I'm just here for my amusement.

John Abbott from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 12:38 PM

@Yes!, surely I'm not the only one to notice that your source is a business publication. Based on the quality of your argumentation (all buzzword generalities, no hard data), you seem to have trouble distinguishing between an economic argument and one grounded in reliable knowledge about educational practice and human behavior. What really concerns me is the possibility that Al Roberts and the Board are likewise incapable of drawing this distinction.


Posted: August 16th, 2013 12:30 PM

@Unfortunately, approx 1.5 million American students are using ipads in hundreds of school districts. What we're proposing is nothing new. It's an ongoing revolution in education. Here's a link to the largest rollouts.


Posted: August 16th, 2013 12:21 PM

I do think we're headed towards an age where you're going to have to split into groups to allow students to opt-out of a more tech-intense setting if that's their preference. Look at the reaction here. What do we do with the kids whose parents don't want them to have the ipad access? Can we come up with a middle ground of letting families self-select how much computer experience their kid is getting in the district if so many are opposed?


Posted: August 16th, 2013 12:17 PM

@Yes! - IMO, you say a lot - but very little. For instance, could you please provide the names of the school districts who are successfully using the iPad? What are they doing with it? What grades? Their goals? Their track records? Their demographics? Your 9:24 comment today sounds like we'd be idiots for not doing this sooner, but, again, no details. My children are thru with D97 and OPRF and are excelling in college - and did so with no FF, etc. Why? Their skills in reading/writing/arithmetic

John Abbott from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 11:57 AM

I use & endorse many classroom technologies that have come into play over recent years. That said, we still know very little as to the long-term consequences of these in the learning process. See for example this recent study that found that college students using laptops in class under-performed those taking notes the old-fashioned way:


Posted: August 16th, 2013 11:57 AM

Violet, I'm agnostic on charters. I want strong public schools. But they're failing our kids. As a parent, I want choices. I'm not sure charter schools are the way to go, but I listen to the debate. As far as technology goes, I've never said EVERY child will do best with technology. But all parents deserve that option to be tech-based. That's just recognizing the reality of modern learning. I think the idea that kids learn better without screens is outdated and not backed up by the science.

John Abbott from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 11:36 AM

As one of many OPers who wholeheartedly supported the last referendum, I'm feeling really queasy these days about having fallen for (what now seems to me) a D97 bait-and-switch. The past two years, the district has increasingly run away from the teaching intensive approach that has made OP schools a success -- instead throwing money at one ill-proven technological scheme after another. Cost-cutting, seems to me, is driving this agenda -- educational standards have nothing to do with it.

Violet "no shills allowed" Aura  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 11:33 AM

Yes, your posts are beginning to reek of the stench of a charter-school shill. Hope not. This meme that either you're with us or against us is a bit of hyperbole. One is not a Luddite simply for not feeling it's developmentally appropriate for young children to use computers. Go research the Waldorf method. They don't introduce computers until upper grades precisely because younger kids need to develop their creative minds first. That is how they learn, too!


Posted: August 16th, 2013 10:51 AM

Someone mentioned earlier about an ipad being closed which I agree about students needing to be able to have a class to open these devices up, learn how they work, learn to write software, build new hardware. They're not going to get that with Apple. C'est la vie. Even as an end user, student performance still goes up. But we could be getting more out of this purchase if it wasn't an ipad.

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 10:38 AM

Be careful not to jump to the conclusion that being the end user of a manufactured product gives you insight into the technology behind it. Microwaving 100 burritos won't teach you how a microwave works. I have no doubt that D97 students will learn to use an IPad if they're given IPads, but is "How to use an IPad" part of the curriculum? Should it be?


Posted: August 16th, 2013 9:32 AM

There are schools now that are using computers to replace teachers and serve as baby-sitters in larger classrooms. Be careful what you wish for.


Posted: August 16th, 2013 9:28 AM

Do the iPads get a pension too?


Posted: August 16th, 2013 9:24 AM

In some districts, computers allow students in one classroom to be on multiple tracks allowing each student to get an individualized lesson plan that covers basics or gifted depending on their learning level. The middle school I attended uses online home classes to free up student time for special art or science courses that would otherwise not be offered. By the time those students get to my old HS, they take college courses at a satellite branch ON the HS campus. We're painfully behind.


Posted: August 16th, 2013 9:16 AM

As I've said, technology in the classroom requires a teacher who knows how to integrate it correctly. But the beauty of computers in the classroom is that they're so versatile. (Or should be.) They can teach basic reading, writing, and math AND connect with people across the world AND run apps AND meet the needs of advanced learners, etc. But I do think that requires a more flexible program of use that what I'm currently seeing in D97. Other districts/states are using computers so much better.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 9:04 AM

"But that's blaming the technology for human problems. A computer is just a tool. It's only going to be as "smart" and beneficial as the person using it makes it." And if the person can't spell, add, or read a map, the "tool" isn't going to help either. We are continously using technology as a crutch for what was never learned in the first place. Reading, writing and arithmetic are basic tools that need to be learned first so the "tool" can be used to assist.


Posted: August 16th, 2013 8:54 AM

Violet, maybe the kids can all roll hoops and play stickball, too? lol I see what you're saying. But that's blaming the technology for human problems. A computer is just a tool. It's only going to be as "smart" and beneficial as the person using it makes it. We don't all drive horse and buggy because people don't drive well. Cars are the better tool.

Violet Aura  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 8:44 AM

@Yes: Do you realize that "old-fashioned" is an erroneous concept when looking at the fruits of using electronics in the classroom? I have had young people who couldn't read their smart phone map and had to ask me where to go! Or they misspelled the search word and thus could not locate the info desired. Repetitive actions like tracing letters (penmanship), computing figures manually (not being addicted to a calculator) or writing a paper without Spellcheck & knowing how to use proper grammar...


Posted: August 16th, 2013 8:35 AM

You guys realize how old-fashioned you sound, right? That's not where modern education is headed. We're late to the party as it is. These kids are going to spend their entire lives surrounded by high-tech devices. Which is a GREAT thing! Embracing a very high level of very early computer literacy is going to get these kids a lot farther than fighting it. Students in other places do ALL their schooling based around a computer! Though I'm for choices...maybe we need two divisions for the opt-outs?

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 7:52 AM

The real problem, besides the waste of $2 million dollars on a technology with a short shelf life, is that the school day does not expand to take in everything mandated by district whims. Like Fast Forword, looking at IPads is going to take time away from proven methodologies that involve human interaction. We don't have enough time to do everything that we already know to be effective, but we toss out still more to take an expensive gamble.

Jeri from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 7:48 AM

@Brian Eagan: I thought the same thing when I looked at that photo. Not good!! It's bad enough that everyone is attached to their cell phones walking down the street, driving, in restaurants...Apparently the school board wants to normalize this behavior at a young age. STOP THE MADNESS.

Brian Eagan from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 12:04 AM

Look at the kids in that photo - headphones on, staring at a screen. School should be about socialization and human driven learning. There is plenty of time for staring at a screen when the kids get their first cubicle job. Are we afraid our kids aren't getting enough quality time with electronic devices?

Throwing Dough hope it sticks from OP   

Posted: August 15th, 2013 10:07 PM

(Cont) Roberts met with this company, but turned it down right away, he had a better idea. He decided to go with Fast Forward weeks later. Now he is buying IPads with no plan. I wonder if board members were made aware of a cutting edge option with a proven track record as a choice? I wonder who will support all the tech questions with the IPads? I wonder who will navigate the app selection for each child? I wonder when fast forward results will be public?

Throwing Dough hope it sticks from OP  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 9:52 PM

Realty is that Roberts is pushing this(stop saying district). He has an agenda, and will throw money at ideas he likes, like IB, IPads, with little proof that this will improve performance. There is a company based in Chicago (Espark)( that has a track record of improving learning (based on 3rd party MAP tests) especially in low income students. The company's software selects specific apps to be used by students on Ipads. The results are guaranteed by the company.


Posted: August 15th, 2013 9:16 PM

d97 is a total joke

Ned Ryerson from River Forest, Illinois  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 9:02 PM

Gee, its not like they wanted to add lights to the high school (or, the River Forest Tennis Club). C'mon Okies, lets set a record for anonymous public discord! Keep posting your indignation at having your taxes raised, again. Post! Post! Post!


Posted: August 15th, 2013 8:24 PM

It's not just about the money though. I see such a lack of diversity in the hiring standards - a write off to use fast forward for something other than it's tested use, it seems that I guess I feel like our board has failed us miserably in a lot of areas - as good of citizens as they are. Our board is responsible for ensuring that good diverse candidates represent our key positions in the district. The board votes, the superintendent recommends.


Posted: August 15th, 2013 5:59 PM

My child received differentiated math beginning in K and it was absolutely critical because my child was bored and disruptive until getting more and harder work. Absolutely has flourished because of it. District making a HUGE mistake if this has been discontinued and parents should be very concerned.

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 5:50 PM

Manning - I was perhaps a little harsh, but I stand by the assertion that there are district teachers who work very hard at providing differentiated instruction, and doing the necessary assessment to drive that differentiation, and there are teachers who pay the idea lip service and do very little.


Posted: August 15th, 2013 5:44 PM

I see that D97 is continuing their never-ending strategy of "build it and they will excel" approach to education! "Economist" is correct and it's a gimmick. For instance, if there was ANY evidence that FF was providing superior educational outcomes......they'd be SHOUTING IT OUT!!! Many people warned us that D97's fin'l situation was no where near dire as claimed during the referendum debate and now "darts/dollars blindly thrown at the wall!" seeking "excellence" continues by the KK gang!


Posted: August 15th, 2013 5:33 PM

@OPT It's not a matter of teachers not "wanting to do the work" but rather the impossibility of providing differentiated instruction to 20 kids with varying abilities at the same time, while being bound by the district to follow the "grade level" curriculum. Doing "challenge" worksheets in a corner is not instruction, but it's the best teachers can do under the current policy. And if that policy doesn't change, iPads won't help.


Posted: August 15th, 2013 5:03 PM

My question is why aren't D97 & 200 collaborating and we just give each kindergarten student a new laptop that is swapped in 5th & 9th grade...basically every 4 years to stay fresh. Go paperless for the environment & the laptops are more useful/cheaper than ipads. And the laptops could be a lead-in to a home-based online curriculum that's being done so successfully in other places.


Posted: August 15th, 2013 4:58 PM

Economist, the two keys in the research for effectiveness of the computer are that it has to be highly interactive for the software and it needs to be implemented correctly by the teacher. So it's not just the hardware, but what apps we're using and having teachers who use the tool correctly.

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 4:45 PM

Manning - I don't think it would be necessary for the principal to fly under the district's radar. Both acceleration and enrichment could be pretty easily justified under a "response to intervention" model. The wild card is whether the classroom teacher is willing to do the work. If it's a big classroom with a lot of kids with special needs, the odds are probably against you.

Economist from Oak Park  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 4:42 PM

The reason education costs have skyrocketed relative to the rest of the economy is that teachers have failed to use technology to increase productivity the way the rest of the world has. (Same applies to doctors.) Is this a real productivity gain that provides more efficient education and lower operating costs or just a marketing gimic? If iPads are doing the teaching, then the teachers are glorified baby sitters. If teachers are doing the teaching then the iPads are glorified video games.


Posted: August 15th, 2013 4:40 PM

Giving myself a screen time out because I can't even with this Yes! person, but wanted to say to KCS that I'm happy you have found a principal willing to try to fly under the district's radar. Others of us have had to make other arrangements. If you want to talk to other D97 parents of kids with high math ability, feel free to email me at

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 4:25 PM

To "Yes!" - I think you've gone from claiming you found 100 studies proving the benefit of IPads in the classroom to explaining how no such research could ever be done. All in the same day. It might be time to admit you're over your head.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 4:23 PM

OP Transplant - not to be a jerk, but do you really think that when they vote on this, it will actually not pass? I find it hard to believe that the board won't pass this expenditure like they have all the rest with the referendum money.


Posted: August 15th, 2013 4:23 PM

OP Transplant, you're never going to get data saying every kid needs an ipad. What the data DOES suggest, however, is that you're more likely to do better with an ipad than without. There's no absolute guarantee. Science deals in probabilities.

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 4:21 PM

To "OP" - Unless I misread the article, the board doesn't vote on this plan until 8/20, so I disagree with your assertion that the cost is irrelevant. $2 million is a lot of money to gamble on a technology that has no proven classroom benefit.


Posted: August 15th, 2013 4:19 PM

"I searched" think about the ethics/logistics of trying to do that kind of research on elementary kids. You can't give some of your kids the ipad, some of them no ipad, then study them for a decade. Not going to be approved. I'd like to see some larger sample sizes, but not all science is the kind you want.


Posted: August 15th, 2013 4:14 PM

Again,t he cost is irrelevant and as it is now sunk - the more pressing question is how does d97 optmize this? The tech board of paretns really did not have a voice - Roberts gave the mission, strategy and they provided rubber stamp. Roberts is not a tech visionary - he is a politician/admin. There needs to be strong oversight and integration by people who have done this before/ really understand it. Otherwise, at best this likely to have little real impact and is me to...

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 4:11 PM

KCS and Manning - Every building administrator will assure you that differentiation is taking place, but what really happens in the classroom can be another story. The truth is that there are teachers who are highly committed to meeting each student at his or her own instructional level, and there are teachers who are, shall we say, less than fully committed. Real differentiation, based upon frequent assessment, is a lot of work!

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 4:03 PM

Reading, writing and arithmetic. Many kids can't write because they spend more time writing in Twitterese with plurals that end with "z" and "you" spelled "u" than learning to write English. Read your kids phone. This society spends too much damn time teaching to get test scores instead of teaching to learn. This isn't about the kids at all - this is about spending referendum money under the guise of improving test scores. Throw out the tests - reading, writing and arithmetic.

I searched and found.... from OP  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 4:02 PM

@Yes!: you may not like my definition of science, but yours doesn't exist. A couple of observations, interviews, and loosely-designed qualitative studies don't constitute the "science" you claim exists. That's another problem today - people claim to have science when lots of it is junk, or inconclusive, or both. Ipads may have educational benefits, but implying that they are proven when they aren't is wrongheaded. D97 is hoping it all works out...and it may. But it's a risk with tax dollars.


Posted: August 15th, 2013 3:59 PM

Manning, our kids may be at different schools.

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 3:50 PM

Instructional time and district funds are both finite. It's not best practice to take resources away from already research-proven teaching methods in favor of something that seems like it might work. Of course there's research that supports the use of tech in the classroom. D97, like every other district, has been using computers, smart boards, etc. for years. There's no data that shows that every kid needs an IPad. Thus, no link from our friend "Yes!".


Posted: August 15th, 2013 3:35 PM

Ding ding ding! We may have a winner! "I searched," your def of "actual science" is a little shaky. But points for playing with reasonable skill. There are some studies going back to the early 1990's. But, really, are you going to get many longitudinal studies about tech? Esp. considering today's apps are so much more effective as learning tools than, say, the early 1990's. I agree that I certainly hope teachers put these to full use b/c they do amazing things. Time will tell.


Posted: August 15th, 2013 3:30 PM

iPads are not the magic solution for test scores. They fall under the nice to have category. My child survived grades 3-5 without one and consistently hits 97-99th percentile on district's quarterly MAP tests. There is a keeping up with the Joneses mentality in wealthy school districts like ours. Truth is you get out of it what you put into it. The district is good. Any child who works hard can succeed here, iPad or no.

Agreed. from Oak Park  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 3:29 PM

Distrustful, I couldn't agree more. D97 has created a culture of waste. They take for granted the money that taxpayers trust them to invest in their children and spend frivolously. The referendum passing seems like it was a signal that they could spend with impugnity. How sad for our community...and for our children. The D97 Board should be ashamed and those of us that supported the referendum absolutely mortified.

I searched, and found.... from OP  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 3:21 PM

...that there are several studies cited, but most are anecdotal or qualitative in nature. So, without any actual "science" (a broad-based, quantitative, long-term, published, peer-reviewed study with fully disclosed parameters with matched test & control), iPads look promising, but are far from a proven technology. Teachers knowing how to teach to them are key in most of the early work, however. Are D97 teachers prepared? Again, it's a lot of money to spend on an experiment...

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 3:14 PM

To "Yes!" - Still waiting for that link.


Posted: August 15th, 2013 3:11 PM

I didn't vote for the referendum. My children are in D97 and I love their teachers. But I get the sneaking suspicion lately that no one (board and staff) over there is thinking in fiscally conservative ways at all. Should we spend money on a new building? Yep! Should we spend loads on technology that we don't really need for every student? Sure, lets spend the millions you are paying us in tax dollars that we bullied you into forking over.


Posted: August 15th, 2013 2:45 PM

I'm kinda starting to think you don't know how to Google.


Posted: August 15th, 2013 2:23 PM

I'll say it straight for you since it annoys you. Science says computers improve test scores. You're an idiot if you don't want a smarter kid. Better?


Posted: August 15th, 2013 2:20 PM

You might want to google "weasel words."


Posted: August 15th, 2013 2:17 PM

Sorry if I need to dumb it down a little for the WJ comments section, Omg. I'll work on my small words for ya. ;-)


Posted: August 15th, 2013 2:11 PM

"Yes!" uses more weasel words than a rolled back Wikipedia edit. I really hope he/she doesn't work for the school district.


Posted: August 15th, 2013 2:03 PM

OP Transplant, you're the reason we need to give these kids ipads is so they can learn to easily find the approx 100 studies I can browse in 5 min! I'm not going to hand hold you, sorry. My larger point was about the lack of scientific literacy. If you're claiming the ipads will be no help, the burden of proof is on you to show that research. Granted, D97 maybe needs to placate the ignorant. But the general scientific consensus is that computers help in the classroom.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 2:00 PM

I don't buy that the D97 board did anything secretly. The board is elected for their knowledge and expertise on financial and education matters. They also have a trained staff. It is likely that they voted on the matter, had advanced agenda available, an open meeting and minutes.

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 1:39 PM

To "Yes!" - Please link to the peer-reviewed study that indicates that giving every student an IPad improves outcome. I've done the requested "quick Google search" and can't find it. I'll await the link.

Hmmmm from Oak Park  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 1:38 PM

There are certainly higher levels of education that require the use of computers, but giving kids iPads for learning the basics is counterproductive. They help them use "shortcuts" instead of actually understanding the fundamentals. We could just as easily teach kids arithmetic by using a calculator, but in the long run, it would be detrimental to the child. I fear the same for kids being raised on iPads.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 1:13 PM

This is for all of you who voted for the referendum thinking it was going to save music and art programs and keep teachers. Still want to vote "yes" when the next referendum comes around for D200? That one will be to "fund the pension program" while it sits on $125M of our money. And who wants to bet that the next D97 referendum is for the same idea? Why not use that money to make the pensions 100% funded? That is a better use of money than iPads. Repeat after me: "Anything for the children".


Posted: August 15th, 2013 1:02 PM

@ Manning--The district has kept this very quiet because they are pushing IB so much. Plus during the referendum they said they would keep the arts. They also said they would be adding/updating technology, thus the iPads.


Posted: August 15th, 2013 11:25 AM

@KCS, not for K-2. They may get different "challenge" homework on the same topic being covered by the rest of the class, but there is no differentiated instruction and no acceleration for high ability learners until 3rd grade, when they are allowed to advance a single grade.

KCS from Oak Park  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 11:19 AM

Manning adding this for the purpose of clarity. Differentiated math is being done at D97.

D97 Mom from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 11:16 AM

I'm not sure if the iPad purchase is net good or bad, but D97 tech track record is suspect. I remember the FastForward purchase, where the seller "performed" a study with summer Hephzibah kids and found "even good readers improved". I asked how much compared to the control group. Guess what? NO control group. Good readers in summer Hep often read 4 hours/day. FF kids, who read 3 hours/day and did that wretched program for one improved and we spent $.5MM. They've made a skeptic out of me.


Posted: August 15th, 2013 11:03 AM

And You get a car, and You get a car...I was excited when they Installed smartboards in the classrooom, I thought that technology had value. Shared screens, video input to stimulate learning, notes for review. We paid for it and it was not utilzed. Why is this different?


Posted: August 15th, 2013 11:01 AM

@Yes! I am not the one proposing to spend two million dollars on technology with no clear benefit and which will likely put our children in physical danger. If these "peer reviewed science" studies exist, you (d97) need to provide them. And why wager a guess what parents want? Why not actually ask parents if they want an iPad for every kid? If you ask, you will find out. Data is a wonderful thing. I'll take it over blind faith or corporate marketing any day.


Posted: August 15th, 2013 10:27 AM

Yes, there is a lot of bogus research on the internet, Manning. Notice I said "peer-reviewed science." Let's teach our students that. And to not be lazy. Why is it anybody's job but YOUR OWN to find easily accessible documents? To your other point, aside from the skeptics on here I'd wager that most parents want their kids exposed to more technology. But I at least appreciate that it could be something other than an ipad. Why not laptops? It'd be cheaper. My guess is the apps.


Posted: August 15th, 2013 10:19 AM

Last comment should have said, this parent doesn't want. Of course I don't speak for all parents.


Posted: August 15th, 2013 10:12 AM

If I ask someone for sources, and they tell me to "do a quick google search", that tells me that person does not understand the basics of research OR how to use Google. Maybe we should first teach kids that there's a lot of crummy and bogus info on the internet, how to evaluate the validity of studies and finally how not to use phony tech boosterism and nonexistent studies to justify massive technology purchases that parents don't want.

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 9:42 AM

This should be simple. If there is research that shows that giving every student an IPad improves educational outcome, the district should make that research available. If there is no such research, the district is gambling (with our money) that IPads might help. I hope they do, but I'm old enough to have seen tech initiatives fizzle out before. Anybody dazzled with the impact of Fast Forword? It's always easier to take chances with someone else's money.


Posted: August 15th, 2013 9:40 AM

Pretty much, Speedway. If it raises test scores do you really care? Manning, do a quick google search. There's tons of peer-reviewed science out there. STEM is usually the and math is usually where the improvement in test scores is seen. But there's also some evidence that computer based learning improves general cognitive ability, memory, fine motor skills, name it. What do you want to measure?


Posted: August 15th, 2013 8:42 AM

@Yes!, for the record, again, would you mind citing some of your research? I would be especially interested in video game research that wasn't paid for by the video game industry. "Improvements in STEM"? What does that even mean? What are you measuring, what was improved? Every working scientist, technologist, engineer and mathematician alive today did not have or need iPads to learn elementary mathematics.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 8:41 AM

Our we suggesting kids play games with their new Ipad, that our taxes are paying for?


Posted: August 15th, 2013 7:56 AM

For the record, it's not just ipads that raise academic success. Computers & video games in general have research showing improvement in STEM, reading, etc.. It's not the device itself that helps, but how it is used. So good software and teachers who know how to use it trumps hardware. And, to answer some of the comments, you don't need the internet to get the educational benefit. You just need them loaded with the correct apps for students to use.

Anita from Oak Park  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 7:23 AM

Agree entirely with the points made by Manning: OP, there are no processes to support this technology. Wouldn't it make sense to define your process and expected outcomes before buying stuff? D97 has a rigid policy against differentiated curriculum or acceleration in math for K-2. So if you have a policy that prohibits curriculum differentiation and prescribes "one size fits all" instruction, how on earth is buying iPads going to help?? Fix the curriculum and give teachers the support they nee


Posted: August 15th, 2013 7:01 AM

link didn't work


Posted: August 15th, 2013 6:59 AM

D97 continues to futilely chase technology. Real innovation is found in (of all places) Silicon Valley. Is this a ploy to increase tax sizes?


Posted: August 15th, 2013 5:10 AM

The cost of the technology is frankly irrelevant if can drive desired outcomes (drive teacher productivity/lower class size, improve scores, creativity etc). However, if anyone had the chance to read the OP97 Tech Board report, you would realize that there is no real innovation (i.e. how is this pushing envelope? etc). This is buy stuff and hope it delivers - There are a few great tech people in schools but the district lacks leadership and vision on this issue (and others)

Oakparker from Oak Park  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 12:48 AM

I was stunned to read this. I love technology and IPads are wonderful devices, but you do have to be careful with them. Students will be at risk from thieves when carrying them home because it will be known they have them. If they are only wi-fi enabled there is going to be additional costs to provide wi-fi at schools and if there is no wi-fi at home, there will be no access to the Internet. Did anyone think this through?

Dan M  

Posted: August 14th, 2013 9:48 PM

This is an unnecessary use of money on a technology that will no doubt be obsolete within five years. However, this is what the overwhelming majority of people voted for when they passed the district 97 referendum. When will Oak Parkers learn that they don't have to vote yes on every single referendum in order to maintain a strong community. All of these referendums just lead to extravagant and unnecessary spending.


Posted: August 14th, 2013 9:26 PM

OP, there are no processes to support this technology. Wouldn't it make sense to define your process and expected outcomes before buying stuff? D97 has a rigid policy against differentiated curriculum or acceleration in math for K-2. So if you have a policy that prohibits curriculum differentiation and prescribes "one size fits all" instruction, how on earth is buying iPads going to help?? Fix the curriculum and give teachers the resources they need to teach.


Posted: August 14th, 2013 9:09 PM

"One of the greatest education tools"?? JBM, what evidence do you have to back up that statement? What does it offer that an android or windows tablet (both much less expensive and less attractive to muggers) doesn't? Without evidence, your argument is faith at best, and worst, marketing hype. And again, without a solid internet connection, nearly all it's benefits will be lost. You like your ipad, OK, but without evidence it can help a struggling kid read, or understand fractions, it's a toy


Posted: August 14th, 2013 9:06 PM

I really don't get OPer's - we are a bunch of wanne be's that wait


Posted: August 14th, 2013 9:03 PM

Ipads usage is a simple analogy; if you are a frog, it wont make you a prince, but it will help you jump higher. All of this is meaningless without processes, coaching and training for the teachers. Also, this is really 1.0 - other districts are far ahead and we are tooting our horn for something that should already be in place. Futher, there is little innovation (i.e. distance/cloud learning) So much work needs to be done..

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 14th, 2013 8:58 PM

The iPad is one of the greatest education tools for students of all ages. It allows students to find information much faster and more thoroughly than a blackboard, books, or the current support material in use now. It is not a toy or a waste of money. For those that say they will not vote Yes for a referendum as a result of the board's decision to buy iPads. As I remember most people said they would not vote Yes for the next referendum if test scores did not go up and if education costs went up. How did the iPads become the event that has you changing your mind without seeing the results.


Posted: August 14th, 2013 8:54 PM

Hey Yes!, I'm sorry your job at Baby Einstein didn't work out. Give it a rest. The iPad wasn't built with an iPad, and kids aren't going to "learn technology" by having one. It's a closed system and you can't open up either the hardware or the software.


Posted: August 14th, 2013 8:40 PM

@Arts I am very sorry to hear that. That's terrible. Why doesn't the WJ report on these cuts? @Yes! If you have real studies, and not just "some studies", please cite them. Most studies I've seen correlate more screen time with higher rates of obesity and lower test scores-- most notably declining academic performance among american boys. I did read that video gaming prepares young people for the way we kill now in war. I guess that's something.


Posted: August 14th, 2013 7:24 PM

Please tell me there aren't going to be hundreds of young kids walking the streets every morning and afternoon carrying these theft magnets.


Posted: August 14th, 2013 7:04 PM

At Manning: They are cutting the arts in the middle school because of IB. They have gotten rid of 6th grade general music, 6th grade wheel art and the wheel in general. This will also affect classes in 7th and 8th grade as IB transitions to the whole school. Other wheel art classes, guitar and piano will gradually be fazed out. That could mean a cut of music and art teachers in the next few years.

Jeff Schroeder from Oak Park  

Posted: August 14th, 2013 6:08 PM

Necessary? Seriously? Don't the schools still have real teachers with blackboards? Do they use these as babysitters in the classroom? I voted for the referendum because they had a deficit and I wanted to make sure we didn't have to cut teachers. Not for this. Sorry, call me a dinosaur.

Voted for referendum but won't next time from OP  

Posted: August 14th, 2013 5:55 PM

An iPad is a toy, not something that helps kids become technologically literate. Educational games may be neat and fun, but it's not clear that they promote actual learning. D97 needs to spend money wisely or the next time it says it needs more, OPers will think they cried wolf for the referendum.


Posted: August 14th, 2013 5:54 PM

Some studies suggest a rise in test scores of about 12 percent in students who have exposure to video games and apps vs students who have no digital access. It also boosts hand-eye coordination. Computer based learning is where the future is.

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 14th, 2013 5:31 PM

to "Yes!" - If the district had data to support the decision, I'd agree with you. I'm not asking for magic, but I'd like the district to make decisions that were based upon research. There's not any data, at least not yet, that supports the idea that looking at screens yields better student outcome.


Posted: August 14th, 2013 5:07 PM

We're so lucky to live somewhere that understands how key this is. Nothing more important than technology in the hands of kids early & as much as possible. Thank you for "getting it" D97!

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 14th, 2013 4:57 PM

I appreciate that the district recognizes the need to improve outcomes, but I feel as though they want to toss money in any direction that doesn't involve personnel. The data wasn't there to support Fast Forword, and it isn't there to support the use of IPads. We do know, however, that an improved teacher-student ratio leads to better student outcome. Of course, software doesn't require health insurance, and IPods don't retire.


Posted: August 14th, 2013 4:44 PM

It's also kinda hilarious that every time the WJ runs a piece on some new terrible technology that D97 wants to throw money away on, and people start to complain, they are quick to append the article with D97 propaganda. (This happened with FastForword) Right now, there is a google doc embedded which looks like an explanation of the K ipad pilot, but they don't know to share it publicly. Which speaks volumes about how well the district understands technology. Maybe they will figure it out.


Posted: August 14th, 2013 4:10 PM

What a waste of money!!! $2 mill for a technology that has no proven educational benefit and will be out of date in a year.


Posted: August 14th, 2013 3:18 PM

Finally, the last thing most kids need is more screen time. I ran into some OP parents at target buying school supplies. They'd left their kids (6 and 8) in the car alone because they couldn't get them to put down their ipads!! If these devices are so addictive parents struggle with their own kids, how will teachers be able to magically command the attention of 30 kids using them? The board must vote no. Wait a year, make a real plan, set real goals, and think before you spend this kind of $


Posted: August 14th, 2013 3:11 PM

Next, Wifi. There are MANY Wifi deadspots throughout these old buildings with thick walls, and without Wifi, the interactive features ("benefits") of iPads will be useless. Are they planning to upgrade the Wifi throughout all the schools? At what cost? Next, safety: you've made it impossible for kids to walk to and from school without being targets for theft. This spring a young girl was mugged at hatch for her parents iphone. Thieves will know our kids are easy prey.


Posted: August 14th, 2013 3:08 PM

Couple other things: First, D97 already doesn't differentiate instruction in math for K-2. High ability math kids are left to just suffer in boredom without any alternative curriculum. That's actually a cheap problem to solve, and doesn't require ANY technology, but maybe an investment in a district-wide math specialist or alternative curriculum. They won't even consider those things ("no $") but they can spend $1M on easily broken stolen or lost toys without a clearly defined plan for use?

RLM from Oak Park  

Posted: August 14th, 2013 2:49 PM

Yeah; my nephew was a Kindergartner last year and I really don't recall it having a significant effect on him to where he barely mentioned it. I also don't understand the RUSH. This idea was fully presented two weeks ago and is being voted on Tuesday to be rolled out immediately? Why not try a REAL pilot with the older students, complete with the take home option, and do some real research on deliverables within our district? A million a year?


Posted: August 14th, 2013 2:48 PM

There's an article worth reading here: D97 definitely needs to replace ancient G3s in the library, and I'd be all for giving every *grader a $35 raspberry pi that they can hook up to an old monitor and keyboard (surely we have lots of those lying around in the district) to see HOW computers work and learn to code. But giving every kid an expensive toy is throwing money at a problem it can never solve.


Posted: August 14th, 2013 2:39 PM

What were the results of the kindergarten trial? My son told me they just "shot fish" and played games. The results from FastForward were hardly encouraging, and RLM, you're right, there isn't much research that shows ANY pedagogical benefit to technology in the classroom. This is a huge and stupid waste of money. I voted for the referendum because they were going to lay off art and music teachers and art and music are vital to kid's growing brains. I feel like we were lied to.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 14th, 2013 2:30 PM

Didn't really like the idea. New improved way of teaching. Let's the technology teach, less need for teachers. They gave the kindergartners one last year. More than theft, I think loss and breakage are a bigger issue. It is OP being over the top again. We pay our teachers what???

RLM from Oak Park  

Posted: August 14th, 2013 2:20 PM

Not to mention my middle schooler's locker was burglarized several times this past year with NO resolution. I look at this 5% anticipated loss, damage, theft number very skeptically. We lose that much of the permanent technology at the schools per year; I can only imagine what the real numbers will be with the children taking them home--on the bus, walking, with the entire community knowing the kids walking home from school have iPads in their backpacks/lockers/homes.

RLM from Oak Park  

Posted: August 14th, 2013 2:18 PM

I guess I'm the only parent not uber-excited about this initiative? I don't remember getting a survey on home technology use last year, does the District even know how many students have access to technology at home already? This is a lot of money, where is the research that iPads on top of the iPod touches, the iMacs, the laptops, the Smartboards, the Smarttables will improve my children's education significantly?

Absurdity. from OP  

Posted: August 14th, 2013 5:41 AM

Coming soon to pawn shops and eBay: D97 iPads that some families just can't seem to find....("Teacher, I don't have my homework because my dad pawned my iPad")

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