APS Employees Meet With Apple Execs

by Katie Pyzyk January 20, 2012 at 9:54 am 4,956 121 Comments

Twelve Arlington Public Schools employees traveled to Apple’s headquarters in Cupterino, California to meet with the company’s top executives over the extended Veterans Day weekend last year. The two day information gathering trip in November cost taxpayers a little less than $11,000.

Some of the attendees included School Board Member Libby Garvey and Superintendent Patrick Murphy. APS Spokeswoman Linda Erdos notes that of the 12, Garvey was the only one who traveled on her own dime.

As pointed out by the Arlington County Taxpayers Association, some think the trip was an excessive expense, especially considering Arlington spends more per student than any school system in the region. But APS believes it was well worth it.

“The purpose of the trip is really to talk about what Apple is doing as a company,” said Erdos. “They talk to school districts about how they could possibly collaborate. Because we are using the technology, we are very interested.”

APS has received three grants to purchase iPads for schools. The devices are already in use at schools throughout the county, and are said to be particularly beneficial for students with autism. APS would like to see the use of iPads and other technology spread to more classrooms.

“As educators, we’re looking for every opportunity to find places to support kids,” Erdos said. “It has changed the way kids are learning and how they’re doing their work, and they’re very excited about it.”

There is an Apple office in Reston where APS plans to send its staff in the future for discussing available educational opportunities. When asked why the group didn’t simply visit the Reston location instead of heading to Cupertino, Erdos said the local office serves a different purpose.

“They’re different meetings and different people,” said Erdos. “The people that were in California were really the CEO and top executives from Apple. The center at Reston is really for instructional people. Our instructional leaders will continue to go there.”

Yesterday, Apple announced its first introduction of new or updated products since the death of Steve Jobs, and they’re all educational programs for iPad. The apps are free and allow students to perform a variety of functions such as downloading textbooks, viewing presentations or lectures and receiving assignments or quizzes from teachers.

“It just has a lot of practical application and apps that are free to classroom teachers,” said Erdos. “Our students are young students of the 21st century and we need to keep pace with the learning style that best fits their needs.”

Some APS schools are using other brands of tablets besides the iPad. However, teachers say Apple currently has more learning apps available than other companies.

  • Southeast Ben

    I’m sure Apple would not send out people to do the sales pitch (insert sarcasm)

  • LGRooney

    I’m just curious what people think school administrators do if they’re complaining about this trip. APS is one of the best school systems in the country and the reason my wife & I have made this home (although we wish we could find an affordable home to buy). Do the complainers think we should wait until someone else their act in gear and then follow? I happen to think it best for innovation to start at home so it can be molded to local realities. Let others follow us.

    • Graft Victim

      What do school administrators do in most places in the USA? They manage schools. Somehow without making expensive trips to sunny climes in January.

      No one objects if the superintindent makes, say, an annual trip to a work-related conference somewhere. But sending all these people on a trip that costs 11 grand and whose benefit to the taxpayer is yet to be deteremined–that just seems like a giant boondoggle.

      • James

        Have you been to Cupertino in Jany/Feb…it’s not sunny…it’s in the 50s and rainy.

        The iPad is going to be a huge asset for children and APS is ahead of the game.

  • TGEoA

    Ever hear of gotomeeting?

  • Graft Victim

    This is infuriating. How many iPads could $11,0000 have bought? That they chose to send people across the country on the taxpayer dime in this era of videoconferencing is unbelievable. (Besides, since getting Apple products into the schools benefits Apple financially, the County could have insisted they come here instead.)

    • Ballston

      17 if we went with the 16gb 3G one.
      22 if we went with the 16gb wifi.

      • PaulaPaula

        Textbooks cost between $65 (elementary math) and $180 each (AP Science or Government). Each student usually enrolls in seven courses each year. One iPad could hold hundreds of textbooks and do so much more, and also minimize the need for computer labs, laptop carts, and even library collections. Apple can’t pay for government employees who are making decisions about how to spend government money, unless they are doing work for Apple. Most teachers have side jobs (at least most of the male teachers I know), but administrators are usually prohibited.

        If you want to gripe about school administrators, focus on why so many live outside of Arlington, and why our tax money is paid to grocery stores and doctors and dry cleaners in Fairfax County.

  • CW

    Anybody who sends their kids to APS and gets upset about this is probably a pot calling the kettle black. Odds are, statistically, given the demographics of Arlington, that those parents themselves probably go on more than a few business trips to meet with prospective clients, suppliers, etc. Exactly what APS did.

    • PL25rd

      Totally agreed.

      • John Fontain

        But you have to admit its very unusual in the world of business for the customer to pay for the cost of what is effectively a sales call from a vendor. I would have expected Apple to ship their sales folks here for the meeting or at least for them to pay for the school officials cost of travel.

        Having tablet computers in schools is definitely the way things are heading. I suspect our children will look back at textbooks and get a chuckle at them. I certainly hope that the school system will carefully weight the initial and contininuing replacement costs. The initial costs can be dramatically lower if we don’t get stuck on having to have the Apple branded tablets. And replacement costs will be the real issue, as these things are sure to break/get lost/get stolen quite often in the hands of kids.

        • Bluemonter

          Apple can’t pay for government (including state) employees trip. That is against the rules. They could have sent people here but they would have lost the demonstration capabilities available at the home office.

          This was money well spent… $11k on a business trip is peanuts … I am surprised it cost so little for so many people.

          • CW

            Also keep in mind that, while I’m not a fanboy, it is Apple that we’re talking about here – not a pencil or paper or crayon supplier. While they are technically a supplier, they are also a monster in the market in which they play, and can pick and choose their customers. Sure, anybody off the street, including APS, could go buy some iPads, but maybe there is more to it. Maybe Apple is rolling out a big program with a full technology suite and schools are competing to pilot it. Being Apple’s favorite customer or at least being in their good graces is definitely a great place to be for a customer wishing to intergrate technology further into its business.

          • James

            Are you guys not paying attention to what Apple is doing?


            There was a good reason APS went out there.

          • CW

            No – that’s the whole “I’m not an obsessed fanboy” part – but thanks for the link, as it proves my point.

          • James

            You don’t have to be a ‘fanboy’ to pay attention to the news…

            This Apple Education event was know for almost 3 weeks…

          • Zoning Victim

            Uh, no; I work for a big company with a lot of assets, and Microsoft, IBM, Apple, Google, all come to us when they want to sell us something. The demonstration argument doesn’t really hold water either; it would be far more effective to demonstrate their hardware/software here where a lot more people could have attended. The only thing we ever travel for is training and developer conferences (if we’re lucky and then it’s just a few people), and even then we do everything we can to get the trainers to come to us. This is just the difference between how public and private companies operate. I don’t care too much about the $11K, but let’s not makeup excuses for them that don’t exist.

            That said, it’s horribly disappointing that any school districts in the major cities in our country aren’t completely (or nearly completely) paperless.

          • Ivy

            Uhhhhhhhh…….not true Zoning. I work for a big company and have had to go to a vendor’s site. Depending on the technology or what you need to see, it’s not at all unusual to take a trip to the vendor’s office. And let’s not get all high and mighty with that tired line about how well private companies operate compared to public facilities. My many years of experience with huge corporations have taught me that private companies don’t operate too efficiently either

          • JunkSmith

            I agree… and how about having Apple execs bring the technology to APS schoosl and show proof of concept in the environment that we plan to use their technology.

            That $11,000 could have been used for something better like purchasing more technology for the kids or maybe giving some deserving teachers a bonus.

    • Graft Victim

      But what’s the benefit of this trip to the taxpayers? To the students? The grants were to *purchase* the iPads–so it doesn’t sound like they came from Apple directly as a gift. Certainly, it’s clear that the trip is not what convinced Apple to donate items to the schools here–which they reportedly didn’t.

      If an $11K trip somehow yielded a benefit greater than its cost, I’d have no objection. But it sure doesn’t sound like that’s what happened.

      • CW

        An organization went to a supplier to potentially negotiate the purchase of high-value equipment. You’ve never heard of that happening in the private sector?

        • Lou

          I bet 3/4 of the people staying in the hotels around Ballston are here doing just that kind of business or training with our local companies. This is really a non-issue, unless they really goofed off and played golf one day and charged us for it.

        • Arlington Teacher

          But one of the points here is that this is not the private sector.

      • James
    • Elmer

      Key distinction: “Business trips” by parents, mostly, hopefully company paid versus a taxpayer funded trip across the continent by local bureaucrats.

      • CW

        And where, pray tell, does a LOT of the money that these companies in the D.C. area get come from? Purely the private sector, right? Logic fail.

        • speonjosh

          No. Since dollars circulate throughout the economy, we could use your logic and conclude that the money used to pay for this trip came from drug dealers in Miami.

          • CW


            I was saying that anybody around here criticizing APS for taking business trips on taxpayer dollars has probably taken a couple business trips on taxpayer dollars themselves.

          • Zoning Victim

            If you’re saying “government contractors waste a lot of money, too,” I’d have to agree with you on that, but disagree that it is a good reason for this trip to have taken place or people not to question it. There may have been a good reason (I doubt it but don’t have all of the facts), but government contractors waste money, too isn’t it.

          • CW

            Never said anyone was wasteful, just that people understand the idea of going on a business trip.

          • Elmer

            Wrong, CW. This Elmer worked outside the Beltway. Made money the old fashioned way-by working in prviate sector-no government money. But sure paid for a lot of government bureaucrats who feed at the public trough. Oink Oink.

    • Arlwhenver

      Love your baseless stereotyping. I’ve worked 2 jobs, have 3 kids in APS, and except to attend a funerals, haven’t flown anywhere in 9 years. There are real people out there who bust there asses off and watch every penny in their personal lives who criticize feel good, useless spending. FYI, suppliers are happy to come to you.

      • CW

        I didn’t say everyone. I think you would agree that we have a lot of people in Arlington who are businesspeople and who thus take business trips. Good for you.

    • Arlington Teacher

      Wow are you out of touch with Arlington demographics (county wide) I spend approximately $1,000 each year on unreimbursed expenses for my classroom. I am given $75/year for supplies. So I do not think this is the best use of funds.

      • KalashniKEV

        No one wants to hear boots-on-the-ground reality here. We’re talking about innovation, VIBRANCY, diversity… and more and bigger scams.

        I salute you for your efforts, and it’s unfortunate that your leadership is failing you. If we really wanted to LEAD we would start the overhaul education needs in this country right here- not chase fancy baubles and shiny techno gadgets.

        • CW

          Do you feel the same way about the military?

  • Good Government

    If this is how Libby Garvey spends money, do we really want her on the County Board? Newsflash — a coach ticket to CA is about $500. How do you get to $11,000?

    • CW

      Twelve people, California prices, per diems, transportation. Not hard.

    • Good Government

      I have to take this back, and I apologize to Ms. Garvey.

      I misread the missive from ACTA as suggesting that APS spent $11,000 EACH. I could quibble with the number of employees sent, but on a more careful reading, this is not an unreasonable expenditure for what may turn out to be a worthwhile public/private partnership.

      • FrenchyB

        +1 on the second take!

  • Murphy’s Law

    Murphy is the same guy who’s been spearheading the freezing of teacher pay and benefits and increasing class sizes, all in the name of saving money. Now he jets off to California, on the taxpayer’s dime, “to talk about what Apple is doing as a company.” And this comes on top of Murphy’s already poor relations with APS teachers and staff. What a terrible leader.

    Murphy has got to go.

  • David

    $11K for twelve people to travel to Califronia is not extravigane, factor in about $400-$600/flight, Another $200-$300 for hotel each. People need to get their heads out of their back sides. We are fortunate enough to live in a county where the school system is top notch and forward thinking enough to try to incorporate technology like this.

    • Good Government

      I agree.

      • Cas

        well played sir. I thought the same thing after reading the article.

        • Southeast Jerome

          I would even argue that flights are much more expensive than $400-$600. Easy can pay closer to $800-$1000.

    • Graft Victim

      OK–but why was the trip necessary? Grants from third parties paid for the iPads, which the school board then purchased. So what did we get for our 11 grand? If someone can show that we got something out of it (hopefully worth more than that) then OK.

      But since ““the purpose of the trip [was] really to talk about what Apple is doing as a company”–that’s a sales call, benefiting Apple. Not the taxpayers. Apple should’ve paid for it.

      Again, how many iPads could $11,000 buy?

      • Southeast Jerome

        22 Wi-Fi versions

      • CW

        Read my above post. We might not know everything that’s going on. What if “what Apple is doing as a company” is rolling out technology suites for wired classrooms or school districts and they’re looking for a couple districts to pilot it at a low cost? Wouldn’t that be something worth lobbying for?

        • Cooch

          Well, then – wouldn’t Apple want to come here to see if the infrastructure was adequate for said “pilot”? Oh – I see you use Comcast – sorry, better luck next time.

          • CW

            Comcast? Huh?

          • Cooch

            “Currently, Comcast helps to equip Arlington County’s government access channel, the Arlington Virginia Network, and helps to fund Arlington Independent Media, the independently-run public access channel. It also provides the fiber optic network and internet access service used by Arlington County government and Arlington Public Schools.”

            Comcast Renewal Meeting Tonight
            by ARLnow.com | 876 views | September 13, 2011 at 11:42 am |

          • CW

            Ah, ok, gotcha. I thought you were accusing me of using comcast…NEVER!!!

    • jan

      I agree

  • YellowSubmarine

    If this was a sales-pitch, and it sounds like it was, then Apple should have come to Arlington, or footed the bill for the trip.

    Paying to talk to a vendor about a collaboration is backwards business.

    Shame on all of them, but for Libby, I guess.

    • John Fontain

      +1. You understand how sales calls usually work in the business world. Based on some of the other posts, many posters here do not understand this.

      • Orange Line

        On the other hand, if this is a grant program run by Apple where they are providing merchandise at deep discounts as part of their philanthropic work it is not unusual for the grantee to go to the grantor.

    • OX4


    • MC

      Totally correct. Apple should have paid these employees for the visit if they were really that interested in hearing what Arlington County school staff had to say. Apple has $80 billion in cash, and the County Schools moan they don’t have enough money. Very poor judgment by Arlington County schools – really undercuts their position that they need more money.

  • novasteve

    If you saw their thing, they were pointing out how bad the US education system is, how far behind we are other nations, yet those other nations aren’t using ipads in classes either. The problem is the dumbing down, lowering standards, and other forms of political correctness to get equality of results rather than equality of opportunity. Also add in other leftist pet projects like mandating gay history be taught while our kids are failing in math and science, and you assure the decline continues. Political correctness doesn’t belong in the schools unless you want our schools to fail, which they are doing. You might say Arlington has good schools, but good for the US. The performance is still horrible compared to other countries. And YES, this is absolutely due to liberal policies.

    • Bluemonter

      actually you are wrong. Places like China and Japan totaly rely on innovative teaching and technology for much of the same reasons we are now looking at these tools…they cost less and are the waive of the future.

      • novasteve

        So their kids perform so much better because they don’t read hard copy books? Right….

        The reason they perform better is that they focus on important things, not feel good issues nor do they dumb the programs down.

        If you think ipads are going to make us catch up, you are nuts.

      • Allen Bloom-is-off-the-rose

        “Waive of the future” indeed. Compared to other industrialized nations in the world, US primary and secondary education is not good. Maybe we should pay to have other countries copy us and the they can be not good, too. Then we come out ahead!

        We can write a book and call it, “the Closing of the Industrial World’s Mind.”

      • Arlington Teacher

        The waive?

    • speonjosh

      What “mandate” for gay history to be taught? And even if it was being taught, how would that take away from math and/or science education?

    • John Fontain


      I know you are just doing the usual trolling, but if you have any kids in Arlington public schools you’ll know that the curriculum is far more advanced than what you or I were taught in the same grades when we were in school. Today’s kids are

  • Vik

    I think people should take more of a wait and see approach to determine whether this was a “boondoggle”. It may be a waste of money, but I think people should pick and choose their battles rather than get upset about every last thing the gov’t does.

  • ArlRes

    Less than $1,000 a head for a business trip to California? Sounds reasonable to me when factoring flight/hotel/meals. If $11k ends up providing even 1 app that benefits our 20,000 students, $.50 a student investment does not really bother me.

    • Greg

      Yeah. That’s pretty cheap. Our Government officials need to take trips every one in a while. That’s a part of business. As long as it isn’t extravagant, why is anyone nitpicking?

      • “taking a business trip” isn’t the point…

        Based on the descriptions provided in the article, this was not a meeting to discuss a collaboration or a way ahead or for that matter any tangible benefits to ACPS… it was to talk about Apple’s newest and greatest and maybe tell them about other things they can purchase in the future (with tax money or grant money, but not receive as a gift from Apple). It’s a sales call from Apple to ACPS. I’ve been in successful business ventures private and public for years and I’ve paid a bit to go to an expo here and there maybe or a seminar to further education on new ideas, but I’ve never paid to sit in a room and have someone tell me what I can buy from them. They set up a meeting, they pay for them to come to me, I take my time and meet with them at no other expense. Any taxpayer money (even a “reasonable” amount like this) going into a meeting that returns ZERO benefits to the school system is too much. A waste of time. Great, we added to the idea board… and we got what else for our $11,000?

        Oh right, and don’t forget that we don’t have enough money in our schools and teachers should take a pay cut (even though they’re starting salaries with multiple degrees still make it nearly impossible to buy a house in the county they work for)… nice.

        • Graft Victim


        • 4Arl

          No doubt they will invest similarly and provide adequate training/travel time and funding for the APS staff who actually teach the children.

          • “taking a business trip” isn’t the point…


            Oh… you were serious? :-/ Too bad. 😉 Murphy’s view is a bit fuzzy to say the least.

      • Southeast Jerome

        Because Greg. We cant make fun of the 1% anymore because now the far right is bashing people for being rich, too. Its not fun anymore. So instead, we take nit-pick at rounding errors in the budget in between walks around Lyon Village giving dirty looks to anyone that doesnt live in the neighborhood.

    • Murphy’s Law

      The ACTA post linked in the article quotes from internal APS documents relating to the trip. Murphy’s justification for the trip doesn’t really make sense. It certainly doesn’t suggest that APS will receive any tangible benefits.

  • Scott

    Wouldn’t it make more sense for Apple execs to travel to Arlington? Usually the prospective buyer isn’t the one doing the travel…particularly when that travel involves 12 people and $11K.

  • DSS10

    With two kids in Arlington public schools, I have yet to see any real innovation as to integrating technology in to the class room. I did read about some autistic students using Ipads and having great success in getting them more engaged which is great, but for most students they still have to submit printed homework assignments and the on-line class resources are under underutilized or have incorrect information (The “black board” portal”). Teachers that I have met with that have mentioned wanting to better integrate technology in to the class room have mentioned that the administration has not been supportive or had even the basic understanding of what tools could be used to give students a better learning environment.

    I hope that this trip could be the start of changing the school administrations stance on the us of technology in the class room, but I really can’t see it happening any time in the near future given the current administration and some of the more senior teachers outlook on innovation in the classroom.

    • John Fontain

      Speaking of autism, the NYT recently reported that mental health officials are considering redefining autism. The result is expected to significantly lower the number of kids diagnosed with it.


    • SomeGuy

      DSS10, what technologies would you like to see in the classroom, and how would those specific technologies benefit the students vs. a more traditional method?

      • OX4

        It’s amazing I got through high school with a book and a blackboard. What we need are iPads and digital whiteboards with videoconferencing. You know, to make it easier on the teachers.

      • DSS10

        This is what I would like to see:

        1) Posted syllabus’/lesson plans for the current quarter of each subject/class.
        This allows students to start to work ahead in subjects and to keep up with the classes if they are ever out sick. It also allows parents to supplement the class when they try to teach basic math principals in weird and convoluted ways that seem to confuse as opposed to teach.

        2) Online access to teachers in class teaching materials for both past, current and future classes.

        3) Get home work assignments on-line and have the ability to submit home work electronically.
        For the most part Blackboard is not updated or has the incorrect information for home work. If you ever have a kid out of school for two days there is a ton of home work that they need to make up in addition to the current home work load when they get back.

        4) Real time status of missing home work assignments.
        So Students can manage their homework obligations.

        5) Although grades are now being made available to parents real time, I think that the students should be responsible for informing their parents unless they are really screwing up in a class.

        6) Text books, They are expensive, weigh a lot ton, and teachers only use 30% of the chapters.

        7) There are some great tools online that can tech kids independently which teachers should use. for high school there is the MIT free on-line courses and Stamford has some good free classes too. for Middle school, the Kahn academy has great classes and has been a real help to both my kids in the math and sciences.

        • dk

          I have an 8th grader at Swanson. While not all teachers utilize available technology, I’ve seen many of these things:

          1) Several of my son’s teachers have their syllabi and lesson plans posted on the blackboard website.

          2) My son”s science and geography teachers post their in-class teaching materials every day, and so far they have remained up all year.

          3) My son’s math, science, and geography homework assignments are posted every afternoon, without fail. I have found that foreign language and English teachers are somewhat less reliable, but still pretty good. With them, the problem is sometimes it’s not clear whether there is no posting because there is no homework or because there was no update.

          4) Real time status reports are coming on line beginning next quarter.

          5) Any parent is free to ignore real time status/grade reports if they don’t believe they need to know this information. I can assure you that when one child I know (cough, cough) was screwing up in a class, his parents were informed promptly.

          6) Both the math and science curriculums use textbooks that are fully available on-line. My child also has an at-home math textbook, which he (and I) have found to be very convenient (much more so than the on-line version).

  • S

    1. Apple is announcing major strides focused on education improvement. (http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2012/01/educators-hope-apples-textbook-foray-will-begin-a-learning-revolution.ars)

    2. Our county has one of the best educational systems in the country, much of which is due to being a leader in educational innovation.

    Because of this, as a parent, I don’t have much issue with such a trip. It’s part of the cost of keeping our educational system great.

  • Big f-ing boondoggle.

    • Bluemonter

      F–in F-U

      • Ha ha…very sensitive, aren’t we? How was the golf out in California? You must have been on the trip.

  • Dot

    I remember when APS through out all the apple computers and bought all new Dells. Back then teacher and parents (including myself) were very upset but APS did not listen.

    Just saying.

    • truth be told

      Well, in all fairness, the vast majority of the computer market in business is the PC market. Maybe the decision was based on that fact.

    • Tabs

      The word is “threw” not “through.” Good grief.

  • AltaW

    1) Having taken many a business trip to Silicon Valley $11k in expenses for a 2 day trip for 11 people is actually pretty darn reasonable. I don’t see any indication of lavish spending on this trip.

    2) I might question why 11 people had to attend what the story indicates as an information gathering trip. I hope something a little more tangible was achieved beyond just info gathering.

    3) The story seems to indicate that the county officials met with CEO Tim Cook and other top level executives. If our county officials are able to land meetings with the top people with the #2 company in the world (market cap) that is pretty darn impressive and in my mind would justify the trip.

    4) To the person who asked how many iPads would $11k buy. The answer is 11 – 22 depending upon the model.

    5) After reading reports of the Apple education event yesterday. It seems the end of the text book may actually not be that far off. It sounds like the big players in publishing (Pearson, McGraw Hill, etc…) are partnering with Apple to revolutionize the learning experience.

    6) Does anyone know just how many iPads the county provides to schools and if there is a cohesive plan to how to use them? It is my experience that each school has a handful provided by the county and several schools with deep pocketed PTAs have purchased additional devices for use in the classroom.

    • CW

      Yup. Maybe they discussed something, such as a new education initiative from Apple, that they’re not allowed to discuss with the public yet. Because we all know that Apple has never been known to keep projects secret…

  • Big Brags

    In talking with several Arlington parents, it sounds like Abington Elementary is leading the pack in terms of what they are doing with Apple products. I think they are the only school in the county that is 100% Apple. I’m for one am excited to see the county becoming more progressive with technology. I think the new Instructional Technology head has had a lot to do with that. While I’m not sure that I agree with this type of trip, I’m excited as an Arlington resident to hear about the things happening at Abington.

    • Boss

      The name of the school is Abingdon. Not Abington.

    • School Friend

      That actually isn’t true. There are several Arlington schools that are all MAC.

  • speonjosh

    Computers have been hailed as the saviors for schools since they were introduced in the 80s.

    There is little, if any, research to show that they actually make a difference.

    Is the iPad a substantially different product? Perhaps. But if all the time, money and energy spent in acquiring them and figuring out how to incorporate them into the classroom were instead spent on figuring out how to shrink class sizes, I think you might get a bigger return. Raise your hand if you would choose a class of fifteen students without iPads for your third grader versus a class of twenty five students with iPads for your third grader. (For example.) I would.

    Going in a different direction – 25-30 tenth graders, all boys, no iPads for your fifteen year old son or 25-30 tenth graders, coed, with iPads for your fifteen year old son? Give me the same sex classroom, please. Improved focus, less drama, fewer distractions, better classroom behavior, etc.

    Now, if you are talking about perhaps going to a more student-directed education style, with more of an open approach – no ridgid schedule of bells and 47 minutes per class, etc.- then iPads would be hugely beneficial. That way, you could set requirements and curricula that students are expected to complete in a given time frame and then the students would have much more freedom to pursue the material as they wish. If they really get into chemistry one day, they could theoretically pursue it all day long and the iPad would allow them to move along in the textbook / course materials at their own speed, etc.

    • James

      You are crazy.

      Computers are saviors for schools. They allow our students to do things not possible even 10 years ago.

      You’re living in the dark ages to think computers don’t bring any benefit to schools or students.

      If it wasn’t for computers, I wouldn’t be in my field today, which is graphic/motion graphic design and have been doing it for 15+ years.

      How did it occur…we just happened to buy a Apple LC back in 1989 and the art teacher asked if I wanted to learn on it and from there, the seed was planted.

      iPads for students are going to be a game changer. If you think that a student is challenged or intrigued by a static text book that does nothing in front of them, then you haven’t seen what is out there.


      • speonjosh

        James – There will always be anecdotal evidence to support just about any experiment in schooling. I am happy that you are happy and successful and that computers have played a role in that. It doesn’t prove that the use of technology / computers in schools is worth the resources devoted to them. A quality teacher is worth more than 100 iPads.

        • James

          If you look at our country…I’d say our teachers are failing pretty badly at teaching our students.

          • speonjosh

            Stop a second. Let’s not flail around so much. I never made any comment about the success or failure of American teachers as a whole. The success or failure of the schooling enterprise nationwide rests on a list of many, many factors, teacher quality being but one, perhaps the role / use of technology being another. I’m simply saying that the quality of the teacher ranks far, far higher on that list than does the presence or absense of computers in the classroom. I think there are several other factors that would rank even higher and that if the society was needing to figure out how to devote its resources to improving public education, spending money on iPads would rank about 128th.

          • James

            Speonjosh..take a look at this…this is not anecdotal evidence.

            In an attempt to assess the effect of iPad textbooks on student performance, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) performed a year-long pilot program using an iPad version of the company’s Algebra 1 textbook for middle school students. The study, conducted at Amelia Earhart Middle School in Riverside, California, saw 78% students taking the course using the iPad textbook rank as “Proficient” or “Advanced” in the subject, compared to only 58% of students using the traditional print textbook.

            The first assessment of the pilot— Riverside’s district Algebra benchmark –took place during the second trimester of the 2010–2011 year. Students using HMH Fuse scored an average of 10 percentage points higher than their peers. The app’s impact was even more pronounced after the California Standards Test in spring 2011, on which HMH Fuse students scored approximately 20 percent higher than their textbook-using peers.

            Educators noted increased motivation on the part of students using the iPad app, as well as the personal level of interactivity, as factors contributing to student success. Students also found the iPad experience more natural and put them more in charge of their own learning, factors that increased student interest and engagement.

          • James

            Getting knowledge into the hands of students in an engaging way is #1 in rank. It doesn’t matter how it’s done…we need kids to want to learn and be motivated to learn…not be forced.

            Most of you are just completely missing how big of a game changer this is for education. My father was a teacher for 25 years. My best friends Mom and Dad are both teachers who just retired last year and taught for 30 years.

            All of them agree that if they had the iPad and what Apple is talking about doing now with textbooks, that their classrooms and teaching experience would be vastly different and for the betterment of the student.

    • truth be told

      Ask a group of older engineers, who went through school without a computer, what the advantage of having a computer is for the learning process. You will get 100% consensus.

  • text monopoy

    electronic textbooks could break the text book monopoly’s grip on K-12 budgets and reduce college costs. Not sure how that equation works out if you have to buy every student an ipad though

    • James
      • OX4

        It’s delusional to think that creators and distributors of electronic textbooks would ever give up their monopoly. Expect just as many fees and unnecessary version updates as traditional textbooks, but add DRM mishaps and hardware lockups on top of that.

        • John Fontain

          Yep. Even though 2/3’s of the publishers costs will be eliminated (printing and shipping), I’ll bet good money that you won’t see a proportional decrease in sales prices. Apple will happily step in and take that margin.

        • James

          Who said that they have a choice.

          Did you see what Apple did to the music industry?

          If Apple comes out with their own knowledge base and even creates their own textbooks that follows K-12 curriculum, then that lock/monopoly is gone.

          Apple has the ability to hire their own professors/authors/creators to actually create their own curriculum…think about it.

          How much do textbooks change in terms of the base knowledge? I mean really…how much do the basic subjects and curriculum of math, science, English, etc change. Only the higher end changes and that’s rarely. Apple could literally change everything here.

          • Cooch

            Jury’s still out on that one. History changes every day. So does science. Which version of history would the Apple books teach – the ones where slaves actively fought for the south or the one where evidence doesn’t really support that. How about the one where Confederate leaders actually existed and contributed to society instead of the version Zimmerman believes?

            That’s like saying Rosetta Stone is the best way to learn a new language. I’ve tried it twice with two different languages, and it doesn’t work for me. Makes for a GREAT marketing approach, though. The ONLY change this would make would be to Apple’s bottom line, which is all they really care about.

          • James

            Cooch…I guess you have never talked/met some Apple employees that make this stuff…go to one of their events and speak to any of them, Im not talking about the top level, Im talking about the mid level people.

            They are the furthest thing from bottom line. It just happens that $$$ comes with them making amazing products and solutions to help people better their jobs/lives.

    • AltaW

      Content costs will clearly go down but the big unknown is what the maintenance / replacement costs will be on the devices.

      I hope part of the “info gathering trip” was insight into what type of bulk educational pricing Apple is offering to school systems on devices. We can only hope they do better than the 20% currently offered in their stores.

      • John Fontain

        “Content costs will clearly go down”

        Doubtful. Look at audio recordings. Going to digital eliminated the manufacturing and physical distribution costs and the price of buying an album never dropped. What happened? The electronic distributors (apple) took all the margin.

        And consumers happily paid it!?!?!?

    • Andrew

      The cost of textbooks is not one of the drivers in the increasing cost of college. Even if textbooks were free, you are talking about eliminating $500-$1000 a semester. Not chump change, but not much to write home about either.

      Besides, as others have pointed out, if everything went digital, the cost of digital copies would go up (and you probably can’t sell it back at the end of the semester!).

  • Ra

    To those complainers, I worked in the Apple Reston office for five years. The facility is a market center as well as training and office space on the second floor. For yet to be released products, it would be difficult to shelter technology from the many who come through that office. Had they met for an already announced product, Reston would have made sense.

    I believe out tax dollars were well spent in this case. The Cupertino campus allows for privacy.

    • Elmer

      Based on the logic of the supporters of this taxpayer funded junket, the next trip by the school bureaucrats will be examine the latest in trailers for classrooms since their recent $100,000,000 plus school building projects failed to meet the need.

  • FunnyMunny

    This was, by any fair assessment, a boondoggle. Granted, $11K is a pretty good deal to send 12 people to Cali for a few days, but Apple has offices right here. And they’d happily send reps to us.

    To digress a bit, though…
    If using an iPad is found to be useful among students with autism, then by all means we should be pursuing that. Beyond helping kids with extraordinary needs, there no real research that says technology in the classroom has any benefit to learning. People shouldn’t kid themselves into thinking that having all this tech means our kids are getting a better education. And teaching kids *how* to use an iPad or any current technology as part of curricula is ridiculous and a waste of time. I keep waiting for someone to ask me to call on all that knowledge I gained in my punchcard class in 1980.

    • SmarterThanMost

      I think you are making assumptions that are wildly inaccurate. This is not technology for technology’s sake. When used to support sound instruction, technology can be one of the most powerful tools in the classroom. In terms of iPads, no APS schools are teaching kids how to use iPads. The iPads are being used as tools to support instruction. You might want to visit some of the APS schools to gain a better understanding of this subject.

      • FunnyMunny

        I didn’t think I was making any assumptions. We just likely disagree on what a good education means. I want my kids to know how to think and reason and be able to share their thoughts and reasonings with humans. I think that’s best done by interacting first and foremost, and perhaps solely, with humans. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a tech-head. But where kids are concerned, I say keep the dancing electrons away until they *really* need it as a tool to carry out their well-thought-out intentions.

        • truth be told

          I am critical of this trip because I feel the same knowledge could have, and should have, been transferred differently at a lower cost. That said, I support computers as learning tools. However, you have a great point. Children need to be taught how to do things without one. I can’t tell you how many times a cashier student can’t make change without the cash register telling them. Bill: $4.91. I pull out a $20 bill. Cashier hits the $20 key. I say “I’ve go the penny” and I pull it out. Cashier: “Uh…..”.

  • TT

    I think that most of you are missing the point here. The APS group went to meet with “Top” executives at Apple in Cupertino, that is what corporate briefings are all about and typically they are a collaborative event – the vendor sharing information with the customer and the customer in this case APS sharing their vision, requirements, etc for the future which allows companies like Apple to shape their products to meet their customers needs. There are always numerous levels of meeting with vendors that go on especially with organizations like APS. Why 11k in travel is such a big deal for a group of 12 is beyond me. What I can’t understand is how they did it so cheap! If in fact they did it that cheap they certainly weren’t traveling high on the hog – for those of you that really understand the cost of travel you know what I’m saying.

  • pixelkatt

    Please stop your hand-wringing, people. There’s no need! My husband and I have lived in Arlington County for 20 years and have no children (but we vote at our local middle school.) I would be happy to think that all the taxes we’ve paid over the years (and not used, due to ‘no kids’) covered the costs of this trip.

    It’s called a Corporate Visit and it’s good for our school officials to get outside the beltway and broaden their horizons once in awhile. $11k for 11 people to travel to CA? That’s nothing.

  • KalashniKEV

    Why are we getting all crazed over $11K… this, plus the grant is just to get their Apple’s foot in the door. Once the dumb kids see the smart kids using the iPad to learn (or vice versa however they’re distributed) you will see a for real bill in the millions for iPads.

  • jim

    absolute waste of money – go to the apple store if you want apple products. all of these people should be fired!!!


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