Sunday, March 09, 2014


Ratliff is Not the Problem

Written by Sara Roos, LA CityWatch |

7 Mar 2014 - EDUCATION POLITICS  ::  The new LAUSD District 6 School Board (BOE) member, Monica Ratliff, is being blamed – personally and explicitly and completely unfairly – for at least one school’s pedagogy-free “deployment” of iPads.

Following problems earlier this year, iPads were “grounded” at the school site, although the reasons for this decision were never clarified.  Several complete and sufficient explanations for this repercussion seem possible.

For example, liability and responsibility of families and the District have yet to be worked out explicitly and in contingency-free writing (“willful” damage is the responsibility of families, but who decides what is ‘willful or deliberate’?  How many times?).

Another example might be the controversy around originally justifying long-term construction bond money to fund these ephemeral purchases.  As “part of the infrastructure”, the iPads could be justified as electronics upgrades.  But as soon as the iPads go home they become more like textbooks than like onsite hardware, invalidating the bond funding justification.

Yet for iPads to remain at school they must be secured and tracked.  There must be a system to check them in and out daily.  And there must be a place to store and charge a vast volume of electronics in even more massive (and expensive) carts within already-overcrowded classrooms overstuffed with 50 pupils and more.

The logistics are mind-bogglingly cumbersome; costly in terms of equipment, time and the actual purpose of our children at school:  education.

Some of the 47 schools in the initial Phase I “rollout” of the iPads have yet to “deploy” any devices for reasons that remain unclear but presumably relate to onsite infrastructure wiring.

So now, deploying the devices so late in the school year, under such restricted circumstances, requires such painful school-site juggling that the entire utility of the devices is negated.  Entire pedagogical utility that is.

Because the logistics are so cumbersome these devices cannot be used by teachers in the classroom, or pupils at home, for the purpose of any actual learning.  Instead, the utility of these already-dated devices has contracted to gratifying the testing needs of a gigantic, national testing consortium, "Smarter Balanced", and the meshuggeneh federal Department of Education's misnamed stepchild "Common Core State Standards" (the federal government cannot by law have anything to do with state curriculum and instruction, but they have manipulated its acceptance in the background all the same). Which is from the district's point of view, apparently just fine as that is all they really wanted the iPads for anyway:  testing.

Responsibility for this travesty of technology implementation should lie at the feet of the managers tasked with it.  Not either watchdog committee properly monitoring the country’s largest technology purchase ever, or more inaptly still, with either committee’s chairs.

Neither the citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee chair Stephen English, nor the BOE’s Common Core Technology Program committee chair, Monica Ratliff is responsible for turning Los Angeles’ 1:1 iPad program into a national disgrace.  It may be the collective responsibility of the school’s board of directors, but they are tasked with trusting and nominally agreeing with the recommendations of their staff in the program’s implementation.

Fault should lie with the BOE decision, perhaps, to continue and even augment the employment of their superintendent at whose desk this buck should stop.  But no individual board member, in a proper, duly elected and appointed effort to scrutinize a troubled and troubling initiative, should shoulder the blame for kindly and responsibly drawing attention to legitimate questions of safety, responsibility, implementation, value and utility surrounding LAUSD’s iPad program.

Indeed, there could be no better justification for urging continuation of the CCTP committee’s mandateDr. Vladovic take note:  Reinstate the vital voice of Monica Ratliff’s CCTP committee please!!

(Sara Roos is a politically active resident of Mar Vista, a biostatistician, the parent of two teenaged LAUSD students and a CityWatch contributor, who blogs at

Ratliff is the Problem: CCTP iPads not released to go home, distribution again delayed

by Ben Gertner from the official Roosevelt Senior High School website  |

Monday, 24 February 2014 ::  We just received notice on Friday that we will be unable to distribute iPads to our students to take home. In a conference call, District officials informed the schools in Phase 1 of the Common Core Technology Project that the LAUSD School Board is blocking the School District from moving forward with sending the iPads home.

They said that specifically Monica Ratliff, who is the head of the Board Technology Committee, has concerns about security and accountability in the case of theft, loss or damage.

Because it is so late in the school year, it seems very unlikely that there will be a change in position in time for us to send the iPads home with students this semester. On behalf of the school administration, I want to apologize for once again getting people’s hopes up and then having to disappoint you, but I assure you that we had been told up until Friday that the distribution to students was moving forward.

We are still scheduled to use our iPads for the administration of the Smarter Balanced Field Test, so all of the carts need to be configured. We are pushing for this to happen soon so teachers can at least use the classroom sets that are in their rooms.

We were told that one thing we can do is encourage concerned school community members to write letters and emails to the school board, specifically our school board representative, Monica Garcia, and the chair of the technology committee, Monica Ratliff.

The focus of the letter should be on the potential instructional value of students having access to the iPads outside of school.

Here are some talking points that you might consider including in your correspondence:

  1. Students will have access to e-books, textbooks and other assignments that teachers give them at home.
  2. Teachers are moving to a paperless classroom, sharing assignments with students using tools like Engrade, Edmodo and iTunes U. In order for this to work, students need to be able to use iPads after school.
  3. Many Roosevelt students are enrolled in APEX credit recovery and can catch up with credits much more quickly if they can work on their courses outside of school on their iPads.
  4. Students can conduct research, create media and use their iPads for other extracurricular activities like music.
  5. Students can create flashcards and other study materials and study for quizzes and tests outside of school.
  6. Parents can also use the technology and become more familiar with what students are doing in school.
  7. Students can research colleges and universities, complete applications and apply for financial aid outside of school.
  8. Students can write essays, complete lab reports and other larger projects that they need to complete beyond the school day.
  9. Students can work on group projects outside of school by communicating electronically.
  10. Students can seek online support from their teachers, the library and other resources while at home.

If you agree that there is a potential loss of instructional and learning value for students when iPads can only remain on a school campus and not go home, then please utilize the contact information for Mónica García and Monica Ratliff:

Monica Ratliff
Board Member, Board District 6
333 South Beaudry Avenue, 24th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Mónica García
Board Member, Board District 2
333 South Beaudry Avenue, 24th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Ben Gertner is an assistant principal at Roosevelt. Areas of responsibility: English & World Languages Departments, Discipline and Supervision, Attendance, Technology and Family and Community Engagement

iPad Robo Call Transcription.

forwarded to 4LAKids from a concerned parent:


"Good Evening Parents And Guardians:

This message is sent out on behalf of  [Name Withheld ]  the

principal of [A CCTP Phase 1 School]

I am calling to inform you

that the ipads will not be going home with

students on Thursday, March 6, as previously

scheduled. I repeat: ipads originally

scheduled to go home with students, will not go

home. Mónica Radcliff [sic] of the LAUSD board

of education put a halt to students taking ipads

off campus. Therefore they will be used in

classrooms until I receive further instructions.

Thank you for your understanding. "


The parent who sent this to 4LAKids continues:

OK, this is really weird ... whoever made this recording does not know Mónica Ratliff's name.

I have listened a half dozen times and what I hear is "Mónica Radcliff"... it's possible I am hearing this wrong however.

But odder still is that the message contains misinformation. The ipads at our school are not to be used in classrooms and this has been known since at least last Monday night.

This recording went out Wednesday night. [March 5th]

In point of fact the ipads are stored in homerooms and will be used only for test days and 4 specially scheduled practice test days. The implication of the message is that further instructions will impact this classroom use, but the decision about how and where to use the ipads within campus walls is the principal's to make, not another's who will be conveying further instructions.

Very odd.

It's almost as if this message was not recorded by someone at the school

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