Parents organize opposition to Corvallis schools iPads

2014-01-10T06:00:00Z 2014-01-17T09:15:24Z Parents organize opposition to Corvallis schools iPadsBy Anthony Rimel, Corvallis Gazette-Times Corvallis Gazette Times

Parents opposed to the Corvallis School District’s plan to provide every student with an iPad continue to press their case, with some saying school officials have not justified the need for the devices and others worried about the additional time children will spend staring into a screen.

But district officials said that, while they’re willing to listen to concerns, they’re still committed to their 1:World initiative.

The district distributed the tablet computers to every student at Mountain View Elementary School, Linus Pauling and Cheldelin middle schools earlier this school year, and plans to provide every student in the district with an iPad next school year. The district spent more than $1 million on iPads and upgrades to school wireless networks. District officials plan to replace the iPads every three years, which will cost an estimated a $1.2 million each year.

With parental consent, students third grade and older can take the iPads home.

District officials say the program will allow students from families that cannot afford computer technology equal access to information, and that the devices can open new learning opportunities for students.

But the program has drawn opposition from some parents. At a meeting Monday, 16 of them gathered to discuss their objections.

Brooke Kaye, who has a child who would start at a district elementary school next year, organized the meeting. She said the iPad program has caused her to consider, for the first time, home-schooling her children.

“I have a fundamental philosophical difference in how I want my children to be educated,” she said. “I don’t want to see education as training my kid for a career.”

Instead, Kaye said she wants education to develop her children into good people through creativity and tactile activities.

A lack of peer-reviewed support for one-to-one technology programs also is a concern for her.

“There are decades of research urging us to be cautious about screens and the developing brain. In the absence of peer-reviewed research showing no harm from 1:1 iPad learning, I don’t want to let the school experiment with the neurobiology of my children,” she said.

Kaye encouraged parents concerned about the iPad program to comment on the program at the school board meeting at 6:30 p.m., Jan. 13 at the district offices at 1555 S.W. 35th St., Corvallis.

Screen time worries

Other parents raised other issues. Some argued that the money spent on the iPads would be better used in other areas, such as reducing class sizes. Others are worried that the use of devices will cut into instructional time.

Several parents worried about the effect of the program on the health of students, and cited a recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics that children’s screen time be limited to one to two hours per day. The academy points to studies showing that excessive media use can lead to difficulties in school, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity.

Privacy and security issues were frequent concerns as well. Parents said that students in other districts have bypassed security software. Others worried about the implications of giving students WiFi-capable devices that that have both webcams and GPS built into them.

Some parents said that they wanted to stop the iPad program; others said they’d prefer to see changes in how the program is rolled out. There was also a consensus that the program should be halted at the elementary level.

Public forum planned

Superintendent Erin Prince said Thursday that the district is planning a public forum in February to gather input on the program from the community. She added that external organizations, such as Oregon State University’s Extension Service, have offered to evaluate the iPad program. Results from the forum and the outside evaluation, along with a planned faculty survey, could influence how quickly the district rolls out iPads next year.

“We’re not deaf to concerns,” she said. “We want to make sure we are doing the best for our kids.”

However, Prince said, the basic plan of distributing an iPad for every student next year has not changed.

She said the district’s four-year graduation rate, about 70 percent, is a clear indicator that Corvallis schools need a major change in their educational approach — and she believes the 1:World initiative is part of that overhaul.

“There are 30 percent of our students we are not doing well by,” she said.

Prince said school districts around the United States have seen improvements in attendance, behavior and grades following adoption of one-to-one technology plans.

As an example, she points to a school district in Mooresville, N.C. In the five years after that district implemented a one-to-one laptop program, its graduation rate jumped from 64 percent to 90 percent, according to a book by the district’s superintendent.

Prince said screen time with iPads for education is different from recreational use, and that time with the tablets includes opportunities to engage with teachers and fellow students.

She added that, thus far, the district has seen no evidence that students have been able to bypass district Internet filters. However, she said, the district was issuing a request for proposals to have outside security experts audit the security of the district iPads.

“We want to make sure we do our due diligence,” she said.

Anthony Rimel covers K-12 education. He can be reached at 541-758-9526 or anthony.rimel@lee.net.

Copyright 2016 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(28) Comments

  1. Rockman
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    Rockman - August 15, 2014 12:32 pm
    It's hare to find feedback from students on their daily iPad use, but see what I found from California:

    https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1aI8SibDxKSFqVfngJ23w8eZXbLmp0QJCl_aUxLvW_SU/edit#slide=id.g38623491a_0102

    Doesn't appear they like it much....
  2. YaRight
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    YaRight - January 19, 2014 5:52 pm
    Against computer learning?

    I for one do not look upon being a Luddite as a standard to strive for.

    There are lots of people doing serious research on education via computers and they are discovering exactly why our current educational methods are so pathetic.

    Reaching a conclusion without having ANY facts is what I see in most of the comments below.

    Please take a few minutes and provide yourself with a least a little information so that you are able to form a more knowledgeable opinion: https://ed.stanford.edu/news/playing-learn-can-gaming-transform-education

    Crawling out of our cave may subject us to unknown dangers, but once we do we can learn how to mitigate those dangers, and then we can move ahead into a drastically improved future.
  3. Egbok
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    Egbok - January 16, 2014 12:12 pm
    I would like everyone to have fair access to the tools that can help them have a successful life, such as computer and internet access. It's just a matter of determining what age is the appropriate time to introduce it, and what is the best way to introduce it so that it is safe and useful. It seems clear to me that the CSD has not put enough effort into answering these concerns prior to implementing the program. I believe these tools are necessary in high school and are not necessary in elementary school. Are they necessary in middle school?
  4. Mom2Four
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    Mom2Four - January 16, 2014 9:45 am
    There are still schools in Corvallis that emphasize relationships, experiential learning, teachers teaching, creativity, small class size, strong academics and teaching life skills, not just job skills. I send my children to one such school and by the time they need to use technology (high school), my two older children have not had any trouble using it right along side those kids that have been staring at screens since they were young instead of playing outside more, reading BOOKS and getting bored (like a recent GT article quoted...boredom is the catalyst for creativity"). There are alternatives for your kids' education and most offer tuition scholarships. Don't be shy about visiting these schools so that your kid's backpacks are filled with books, homework on a piece of paper -that they have to hand in directly to the teacher instead of across cyber space - a musical instrument and perhaps a beautiful piece of art.
  5. Sig Olson
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    Sig Olson - January 16, 2014 7:42 am
    Folks supporting and opposing the iPads should take time to inform themselves about what happened in Mooresville, NC. Graduation rates and student performance shot up. Issuing laptops was a central part of that, but it was part of a larger effort.

    http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3757944

    http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2012/02/13/about-those-4400-macbooks-in-mooresville-n-c-s-schools/
  6. EAS
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    EAS - January 14, 2014 10:23 am
    I was impressed by a quote one parent offered to the School Board the night of Monday 13th: Dr. William Sears, “Acquiring technical skills is relatively easy at any age. There are more important tasks for children to master. It's relationships, not technology, that determine success and happiness in life.”
  7. Atterazlac
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    Atterazlac - January 14, 2014 10:11 am
    This is a reply to TheRealJules...

    WiFi in bars? What an awesome idea!
  8. TrueConservative
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    TrueConservative - January 13, 2014 12:33 pm
    Perhaps students can use their Ipads to do some research about where they come from. Like how a company "headquartered" in Ireland is making massive profits from cheap, abused foreign labor. (http://www.thenation.com/article/177646/china-goes-dark)

    Maybe after that they could do some research on "balance of trade" and how billions of $ are pouring out of the US every year, and what that's doing to our economy.
  9. TheRealJules
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    TheRealJules - January 13, 2014 11:04 am
    I'd reply directly to Atterazlac but for some reason there is no reply link.

    So you think it is a good idea to send your kids off to the local coffee shop to do their homework? That sending them to the library to use the free WiFi is better than having them home studying under supervision? A couple of the local bars have free WiFi, too. Good place to send the kiddies to surf the web?

    The fact is, these iPads will not have a data plan, and this will only exacerbate the class warfare that some pretend it is going to remove. "Mommy, we need to get wifi so I can do my homework ..."

    By the way, "free" wifi is often set up without any access control or encryption, so everything the child does can be sniffed by other people. Their passwords for social sites, their email, their browsing, everything.
  10. Eventgoddess
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    Eventgoddess - January 10, 2014 8:32 pm
    There was a very interesting article on NPR the other day "Class trumps race when it comes to internet access." http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/01/07/260409016/class-trumps-race-when-it-comes-to-internet-access

    While Corvallis is not exactly a melting pot of races, it is important to note that it is a community of haves and have nots...as the recent article on the Corvalla Apartments proves. For some children in Corvallis having a television is a luxury and not because their family chooses not to have one, because food and housing are more important. These are the children CSD is trying to make sure don't fall through the cracks. The children your children's taxes will be paying for if they don't get a good education and need SNAP, HUD or other services. By giving equal footing to all kids, including internet access and instruction on using the ipads as a tool, not a toy, they will have an advantage in our fast moving technical society. Its called advancement. Love it or hate it.

  11. AZ RN
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    AZ RN - January 10, 2014 3:51 pm
    As the parent of a 3rd grader I was not excited when a family member bought a tablet for my daughter last year. In fact I nearly vetoed it until a TEACHER brought up a good point. It's inevitable that our children will be exposed to this technology. Theres a solid chance that they will need it to survive at some point in their lives. It's our job as parents to teach them to be responsible, have self control and about internet safety! Just like we teach them to eat healthy and stay away from strangers. We don't keep them out of school because they might be exposed to unhealthy foods. We teach them about making GOOD CHOICES. Kudos to the district for staying on the edge of education! My daughter's iPad will be limited and restricted just like all of the other screens in our life.
  12. BeaverQB
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    BeaverQB - January 10, 2014 3:46 pm
    Care to cite your source?
  13. Atterazlac
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    Atterazlac - January 10, 2014 12:44 pm
    Cyber bullying is an issue that we need to be concerned with. But by denying students the use of iPads because some may misuse them is like telling kids they can't use a pen in school because someone might write a bullying note. Come on, people.
  14. JMS
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    JMS - January 10, 2014 12:41 pm
    First, get the kids used to being on the tablets in every class. Next, take away the teachers. Computer programs are more than capable of doing demonstration and checking retention of reading ability (speech recognition), facts (all of that social studies and history memorizing), math ... the list goes on. It will be an excuse to increase the ratio of students per teacher first, but eventually... who needs a teacher when you've got a computer?

    Even if you don't go that far, how about a single teacher in a classroom in one of the schools in town, with remote feeds to/from classrooms at the other schools? Lots of professional training is done just this way, and it's a lot cheaper than one instructor per classroom. There are already computer based learning programs for kids to use at home too. Computer based learning is a big deal in workplace training these days as well.

    This is an ugly, dangerous path.
  15. Atterazlac
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    Atterazlac - January 10, 2014 12:40 pm
    Right. Who would want learning to be fun, anyway. Oh, maybe some who are protesting this.
  16. Atterazlac
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    Atterazlac - January 10, 2014 12:39 pm
    Except that the public library, countless coffee shops, and other establishments have wi-fi. Saying you can't access it is an excuse when it is so ubiquitous.
  17. Atterazlac
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    Atterazlac - January 10, 2014 12:37 pm
    "Don't let kids read books. The devil will corrupt their minds."

    Parent, 1650 (after invention of common printing press).
  18. BeaverQB
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    BeaverQB - January 10, 2014 12:17 pm
    My experience with iPads in schools is that they are not on a data plan, but only access the internet through Wi-Fi. Therefore, those homes without Wi-Fi service are "left behind" in these types of programs.
  19. CA
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    CA - January 10, 2014 11:42 am
    I'm very glad to see there is public opposition to having iPads in the classroom; I thought I was the only one who was against the idea!
    Last year, my son was part of the third-grade class at Jefferson Elementary which received a grant to use iPads as a "teaching tool" in the classroom. As a family who does not have internet or television in the home, I was not too excited to see him given extraneous computer exposure in a public-school setting. I was eagerly awaiting his move on to the fourth grade so that he could receive a more "traditional" education (which the teachers at his school most certainly excel at). Unfortunately the iPads followed his cohort on to the fourth grade.
    Children generally learn best while moving, talking and doing. The amount of time our Corvallis kids sit in the classroom (instead of moving on the playground) and while doing homework (60-90 minutes in the fourth grade!) is enough of a strain. Adding extra screen-time is not beneficial, if perhaps detrimental.
    Even though my son is in the TAG program and does well enough with the methods being used in the public school curriculum, I do not think iPads and Common Core Standards will help mold him into a creative, well rounded, successful man. (Luckily, he values his awesome teachers, friends and extra reading time much more than the classroom's technology, so he may yet survive...)
  20. Orwell14
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    Orwell14 - January 10, 2014 11:09 am
    Here is good article on the subject from Portland:
    http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/susan_nielsen/index.ssf/2013/10/susan_nielsen_oregon_schools_g.html

  21. Orwell14
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    Orwell14 - January 10, 2014 11:02 am
    We have opted out of the CSD 1:1 tablet program by not signing the CSD Assurance program. We would like to see more teachers hired (Oregon has the 3rd largest classroom sizes in the U.S.); we would like to see what support the CSD has referenced for these programs improving learning and graduation rates or improving test scores; and finally, we would like the CSD to address current problems involving cyber-bullying. In fact, there is a Cyber safety meeting at Cheldelin Middle School on January 14th at 6pm. I encourage all parents to attend and ask questions.
  22. kateojungle
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    kateojungle - January 10, 2014 9:40 am
    Shiny gadgets are no substitute for a good teacher. Sounds expensive and like it will contribute to shortened attention spans.
  23. Beaversrule
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    Beaversrule - January 10, 2014 9:29 am
    You're welcome, I try my best.
  24. TheRealJules
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    TheRealJules - January 10, 2014 8:31 am
    "Mrs. Kayne, the school system is designed to make your children productive, tax paying citizens. "

    Thanks for the morning laugh, Beaversrule. The schools system is designed to make your children good little consumers of government, which means they are passive acceptors of government programs and support the programs that are the standard of the day. Schools were intended to make good Citizens and knowledgeable adults who could function well in daily life, but they left that task behind long ago.

    "2) Since these iPads are tax-payer provided for educational purposes, can I assume there are ways to control the information the iPad passes through to the user?"

    Of course. Only approved information will be provided. Unapproved information will not pass through the browsing filter.

    By the way, school system, who is paying for the data plan for these devices? Or are the homes without wireless internet left behind in this program?
  25. BubbaT
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    BubbaT - January 10, 2014 8:23 am
    Letting kids on all levels experience an iPad, have access to one and become familiar is a great idea. (example- add a few to the current computer rooms) My only concern is the expense of money on this adventure. $1,000,000 is a lot of money. An additional $1,200,000 every year???? I have heard the explanation of saving money on printing, books and supplies. No way this comes even close to saving money. Between the beginning of this year and the end of next school year the District will have spent $2,200,000 on this. I would like them to go on record with this decision and back the decision to spend this money with their own wallets and not the tax payers...

    This is coming from a District that struggles to find the money to meet current salary for employees and is requiring furlough days w/o pay for district employees because of short fall of money. An average of 28 students in a first grade class for one teacher. High School classes commonly have 45 plus students in a class. Seems like they should reconsider some priorities, more teachers and fewer students per teacher. Say what you may about teachers and over paid public employees. But before you do, spend a day in a 1st grade class room with 28 students averaging 6 years old. Several of which are high need students often requiring one on one education services, several of which display severe behavior problems and requiring "by law" Intensive Education Programs. All this provided by one teacher being paid for an 8 hour work day?
  26. KateC
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    KateC - January 10, 2014 8:12 am
    I am concerned about two things. The first is if this will honestly affect teacher to student interaction. I have three school aged boys currently, and 4 (possible 5 if our adoption works out) that will be school aged next year. I was greatly surprised to see the new kinder evaluation that our kinder teacher had to use because she was give an ipad and told to implement it. Where as in the previous years, with my eldest two boys, she had them writing their name and alphabet, and as many numbers as they knew, along with drawing her a detailed picture of themselves listing all the body parts, and pieces of clothing they knew, and then spending a bit of time speaking with us as parents, it was just a rapid fire series of questions that were times on the ipad. All that was done was reading a question, and then having my son touch the screen to answer. There was very little time for interaction between him and his teacher, and no interaction time at all between the teacher and me as the parent. I know I was not the only one put off by this, as my son have truly been looking forward to the experience of showing his teacher how hard he had worked over the summer learning to count to 50 and writing his letters and name. Is this how the trend with the kids is really going to play out... teacher talks, kids just tap at the screen?

    My second concern is the forced liability to the families. I understand that kids under 3rd grade will not be bringing their ipads home, but for the older students, what happens if they get broken. I have 5 fairly young boys at home, two of whom are special needs, and are not always known to be the kindest kids to technology, even when we put steps in place to ensure the devices safety. This is a big factor as to why we limit having those sorts of devices in our home. But if the children are going to have these items required and then will need to use them at home (and saying that you can opt out of home use is a bit silly, because if a teacher assigns a task on it as homework, but you don't take yours home, then doing your homework is not possible) who is assuming the monetary liability for it, if it breaks? And what about if a child breaks theirs while at school? I pay my taxes so that my children can attend a public school, and while I recognize that there are certain things that are still within reason to pay for (basic school supplies and lunches for my child), I refuse to pay a costly insurance fee, or other 'protection' plan, for an unnecessary item that is being forced upon my kids. And for people to say, 'but your child needs to have access to the internet for education today, so it's not unnecessary,' that is why our family has assumed the cost, of a basic yet serviceable computer that for one reasonable price meets the needs of all 5 children.
  27. Beaversrule
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    Beaversrule - January 10, 2014 6:56 am
    My child, an elementary student, uses an iPad in class for some subjects. It excites him in the subject and overall has proven to be a very helpful teaching tool. I am concerned, however about the potential for commercial abuse. The teacher uses Front Row which is pretty good with one big exception: they like to advertise Flamin' Hot Cheetoes by putting pictures of the product into word problems and using examples that would suggest it is normal to have very unhealthy portions of Flamin' Hot Cheetoes regularly. I read a recent article about a surge of children going to the emergency room due to over-consumption of Flamin' Hot Cheetoes. My biggest concern is the software being used will send commercials to my kids during school time and homework time.
  28. Beaversrule
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    Beaversrule - January 10, 2014 6:47 am
    Mrs. Kayne, the school system is designed to make your children productive, tax paying citizens. If you disagree with that mission, then I urge you to homeschool your children. Start a workshop to help other parents homeschool/unschool.

    As for distributing iPads to every child for informaiton equality, I would suggest 1) We don't really need public libraries anymore if every individual has access to a connected iPad. 2) Since these iPads are tax-payer provided for educational purposes, can I assume there are ways to control the information the iPad passes through to the user? We don't want any fun and games on a learning iPad.
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