On behalf of our fellow New Yorkers, we want to thank you for attending an Hour of Code celebration last night at the Apple Store in Manhattan. But...after reading the media coverage of the evening, we find ourselves a little confused. And more than a little frustrated. Your words during the event show that Apple is, at best, out of touch with the market where it first made its name.
At Neverware, we have the privilege of collaborating with many of this country’s tireless K-12 technologists - including dozens here in NYC. When you talk to them about the challenges they face (and it’s starting to feel like maybe you haven’t…) you hear the real truth about what inexpensive computers represent. They are not regarded as just “test machines” (as you called them). While it may not fit Apple’s app store monetization strategy, school districts have now recognized that great computing experiences can be had without paying a premium. Do you really think devices that give children free access to amazing resources like Khan Academy, Scratch & Newsela are merely “test machines”? Do you honestly believe teachers who now have access to tools like Edmodo and Class Dojo would opt to trade an entire classroom of devices for far fewer, pricier devices that students must share?
Shouldn’t the focus be on the fact that Joann Khan’s classroom at P.S. 57 has just ONE computer? Shouldn’t the goal be to increase the likelihood that a student will even touch a computer each day? “Insanely great” products that only get used once a year at an Apple marketing event may inspire kids, but they fail to address the problem. Before every child can take a coding class, every child must have access to a computer.
When you say “We are interested in helping students learn and teachers teach, but tests, no” you’re putting politics and profits before the realities of education. While politicians and high level administration battle about the frequency and content of assessments, districts face the reality that testing will keep happening, and like everything else, will increasingly happen on computers. If schools can’t afford enough devices for their students, they end up going back to filling in tiny bubbles with pencils. That isn’t the best we can do.
And that’s all we really want to say to you, Tim. As the CEO of one of the most powerful companies in the world, your words are reprinted around the world. You have the ability to influence hundreds of millions of people. Knowing that… is a petty swipe at a competitor's product the best that you, and Apple, can do for education?
The CIO of the New York City Department of Education, Hal Friedlander, offered up a thoughtful solution just a couple of weeks ago. The manufacturers of those “test machines” are helping to put more devices in the hands of students across our country. In our own small way, we too are working to offer up solutions that increase access to technology, and create a level playing field - whether for testing, or teaching, or coding (in the classroom, not at a store). With things how they are... how can a donation to just 120 schools be Apple's only offering?
Here at Neverware we love your products, Tim… but we can afford them. So, with all due respect: The students of America lack fundamental access to technology. How is Apple going to help?
Love and a healthy dose of reality,
The Neverware Team