Los Angeles school computer system upgrade a disaster


The tragicomedy that is Los Angeles Unified School System stumbles on. As a computer professional I must confess not understanding how a huge school system with deep pockets can so completely screw up a computer systems upgrade that seniors can’t apply for college because they can’t get their transcripts. L.A. Unified, the second largest school system in the country, spent $1.3 billion on planning to give everyone an iPad and upgrading their computer systems so everything would be zippy fast and efficient. Except the iPad idea crashed and burned and the systems upgrade has been beyond disastrous.

The administration at L.A. Unified is a hidebound dinosaur deeply resistant to change, criticism, and new ideas. It exists primarily to defend itself and enrich those in its employ. The administration exists separate from teachers. It is often actively hostile to teachers when not ignoring them. Teachers repeatedly told the administration that the coming systems upgrade was going to crater, and were ignored.

The incompetence of L.A. Unified administration is almost comical.

[CIO] Ron Chandler was responsible for some of the problems that accompanied the iPad rollout at 47 schools last year. For example, immediately after receiving iPads last year, students at three high schools figured out how to delete the security filter and freely browse the Internet.

But wait, there’s more. Superintendent Ramon Cortines hired Chandler (who has abruptly resigned) and now promises to get to the bottom of the mess they both helped create. Meanwhile, the computer system is non-functional.

The system’s premature launch was compounded by [ex-Superintendent] Deasy and his administration’s refusal to admit the scope of problems MiSiS created for campuses and educators struggling to enroll students and create class schedules without a functional computer system. Many of those campuses still have a host of issues caused by the problems.

Did they do any testing at all? The real problem here is a bureaucracy whose primary purpose is to perpetuate itself while ignoring the outside world, which it views as hostile and a threat.

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