New CPS iPads, A/C going only to welcoming schools

September 3, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Pads and air conditioners were two promises Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett were proud to make at as they announced school closings last spring. The new school year has begun and CPS says all receiving schools have air and iPads.

Yet, the Chicago Teachers Union says many of the iPads are collecting dust until principals figure out how to incorporate the technology into the curriculum.

"This is CPS moving too fast," said CTU researcher Sarah Hainds. "There was no plan to roll it out. Someone had an idea, 'Let's do it, let's spend the money.' No discourse no collaborative planning."

Hainds says the lack of planning includes security. She says there is no CPS policy about preventing the iPads from theft. During the first week of school, close to $100,000 worth of iPads and computers were stolen from Drake Elementary. The South Side school is a receiving school.

The CTU and many parents want to know why the promise for iPads and air conditioners were made to receiving schools only.

"The iPads have become this innovative tool that enhances their learning. When is everyone else going to benefit from that? It doesn't make sense to choose a small group of people," said Hainds.

And the CTU says even the students from the closings school may not benefit from the iPads and air conditioners because statistics are likely to show not all of those kids ended up at a receiving school.

"Why did CPS pour all this money in for these kinds of resources knowing the rest of the district does not have full air conditioning or iPads?" Hainds said.

A CPS spokesperson says a mix of grants and other funding have paid for iPads at dozens of other schools. But, the cash strapped district does not have the money to equip all schools.

The same goes for air conditioners. Because so many schools are over 100 years old, CPS says it will cost over $3 billion to outfit every school with either central air or window units.

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