This week, Carolina Journal’s Lindsay Marchello reported on North Carolina’s plans to put more technology in the hands of its public school students. Marchello reports:

The Department of Public Instruction will make an additional $400 available to all K-3 classrooms for literacy instruction. The department will also send out more iPads so that every K-3 classroom has at least four devices, state Superintendent Mark Johnson announced Monday, Aug. 19.

The iPads come from a stockpile of around 2,000 the state had, plus 800 newly purchased tablets. According to Marchello, in 2017, as part of the state Read to Achieve initiative:

[DPI] sent $200 to each K-3 reading teacher to buy supplies, started a professional development program with N.C. State University called Wolfpack WORKS, provided master literacy training to every school district, and bought enough iPads for every K-3 classroom. 

Of the 24,000 iPads bought, 2,000 were returned to DPI, WRAL reported, because some schools preferred using Google Chromebooks. The returned devices sat in a warehouse for a year. Johnson said the iPads were left in storage longer than expected because of Hurricane Florence and the lengthy recovery process that followed.

Johnson bought 800 more iPads in July, which will be deployed alongside the more than 2,000 iPads now in storage. 

The decision has been controversial, Marchello reports:

Justin Parmenter, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg teacher and Red4EdNC activist, questioned the legality of buying the iPads. “State law holds that individual school districts should be provided with funds for electronic devices and allowed to make decisions about purchases on their own. After all, each district’s needs and capabilities are different.”

However, Mark Johnson defends the decision as a move to improve early literacy:

“Four tablets per class means North Carolina can now be the leader in personalized learning to support young readers,” Johnson said. “Personalized learning uses new technology as a tool for students and teachers to allow each student to learn at their own pace, to replace high-stakes assessments, and to provide a better picture to teachers of each student’s progress and challenges.”

Read the full story here. Follow what’s happening in N.C. K-12 education here.