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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Weemes Elementary School's Reacts To LAUSD Issue

Shuang Li |
September 18, 2014 | 8:43 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Staff member at Weemes Elementary School fixing one of the school's many broken air conditioning systems. (Shuang Li/Neon Tommy)
Staff member at Weemes Elementary School fixing one of the school's many broken air conditioning systems. (Shuang Li/Neon Tommy)
This Thursday was a big day for children and teachers at Lenicia B. Weemes Elementary School - after a record-breaking heat wave hit L.A., the air-conditioner at school is finally getting fixed.

Lenicia B. Weemes Elementary School was built in 1899, and lots of the facilities have been installed since the 40's and 50's. Air-conditioning units break down, the school has constant plumping problems, bathrooms in the school are backed up, and the school hasn’t been painted for at least 20 years.

The elementary school rests in District One of the Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD), the nation’s second largest school system, that found itself involved in controversy weeks ago after it suspended an iPad project for students and teachers.

What made things even more contentious was that the superintendent of LAUSD, John Deasy, was found communicating with Apple and Pearson, the two companies that eventually won the iPad project contract, two years before the bidding. Deasy later filed a public record request for emails between technology companies and school board members, which dragged public’s attention to the relationship between him and his supervisors. 

SEE ALSO: LAUSD'S Deasy Seeks Records Of Board Members' Tech-firm Contacts

Lynn Brown, the principal of Lenicia B. Weemes Elementary School, believes this issue to be a confusion. “What happens because of this confusion is that we don’t have the iPads,” said Brown.The schools were told this summer that they would receive iPads for every student and every teacher in the fall. They also got 32 iPads for testing last year. Unfortunately, the LAUSD will be bringing those iPads back in the fall.

Brown was expecting those iPads because she thought technology was essential for students. “We are in the 21st century and we need to act like it,” she said. She considers technology to be part of everything in the 21st century and feels as though the school will not be able to prepare children to be successful if they are giving them paper, pencil and textbooks. “It’s just a matter of time until we do get the technology.”

However, after being forced to make difficult choices between repairing the school and getting technological equipment, Brown acknowledged that the way LAUSD allocates money is a serious issue. “It’s unfortunate that the only source of funding is the bond money, and I don’t think it’s a good idea to take that money,” she said. 

Brown regrets that the iPad project has become a political issue but does not think the children's quality of education should be sacrificed as a result.

SEE ALSO:  Bickering Between L.A. Unified Leaders Won't Make Schools Better

While superintendent Deasy and school board members continue fighting over the iPad debacle, parents do not seem to be concerned about all the things seen in the news. Brown said the parents at her school do think it is good for their kids to get iPads, but they care more about their children’s safety and whether they stay in air-conditioning classroom and play in a playground that is up to standard.

“The teachers read about it. I read a couple of blogs, and they talk about it quite a bit, but I don’t think our parents are that concerned about [the issue],” said Brown.  

Though not infuriated about the “confusion”, Brown said she wondered if there were some other funds that could be made available to purchase technological equipment rather than using money that was allocated to repairs. She feels as though the whole thing has become a mess, as every day there is something in the news about LAUSD's iPads but none to be seen.

Contact Staff Reporter Shuang Li here and follow her on Twitter here.



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