Yesterday Apple launched a new, low-cost iPad during another of its now iconic product launch presentations. What followed was a craven attempt by the most powerful company in the world to co-opt the good will of the American public education system while willfully ignoring the multiple crises our schools and teachers face everyday. Not a good look.
Apple CEO Tim Cook opened the presentation saying he was “deeply inspired” by the March For Our Lives students for “the courage of these students using their voices to bring about change in America.” Then he segued into his sales pitch. Using traumatized children to sell iPads? As American hero Emma Gonzalez once said, “I call B.S. ”
It would be nice, appropriate even, if the richest, most powerful, innovative company in the world presented an idea or two to solve the problem. Instead they used them to sell product.
Cook continued delivering his homily to a room full of 300 teachers flown in to sit in the audience of a Chicago school. Teachers who aren’t earning a living wage and spend what little extra they have to purchase classroom essentials. Teachers who haven’t had a raise in years. Teachers on the front lines of poverty, the broken healthcare system and the opioid crisis. Teachers, who while they strike for measly wage increases, pitch in their money to make sure the hungry children in their charge don’t miss lunch. Teachers who now in their free time have to march for their lives and the lives of students from an epidemic of gun violence.
But at least Cook and the Apple squad is inspired.
Then a stream of comfortably dressed tech types and carefully scripted teachers who made the extraordinary happen against all odds in their classrooms, took the stage to explain the bells and whistles of the new “affordable” iPad, because it only costs $299 for schools. For the rest of us it’s $329. They also showed how essential the new and improved Apple Pencil is to the modern learning environment, which is available for schools at the low price of $89.
— Champions Digital (@Champs_Digital) March 28, 2018
The things iPad and the pencil could create was miraculous and kids have limitless options for presentations and creating movies and multi-media projects with the new Apple tools. Teachers and kids both can easily learn coding and track progress is completely new ways. Kids can dissect a frog without ever harming an actual frog. It’s magnificent.
Easier to dissect frogs pic.twitter.com/LgSErn89JH
— Bradley Chambers (@bradleychambers) March 27, 2018
There’s no doubt teachers with all of the Apple tools are better equipped than their counterparts. And Cook likes to say often, and repeated at the Apple 2018 event that public education is the “great equalizer.” But its becoming clear that classrooms with resources to spend on technology are far better off. What is Apple proposing to do to live up to that equality in education ideal? Most schools in 2018 America ask parents to donate copy paper.
I also have to wonder how a room full of professionals whose entire careers hinge on test scores really feel about using precious classroom time for coding and creating content when that’s not what’s being measured in their outcomes.
We need companies and corporate leaders like Cook an Apple to offer their most innovative ideas to support and bring sanity and stability back to our public education system — once regarded as an example for the rest of the world. Our students and teachers deserve better.
And they deserve our help, not another sales pitch.