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Apple Likely to Snag Big Tech. Contract With L.A. Unified

Los Angeles school board members next week will vote on whether to award a major contract to Apple, Inc., that, as my colleague Sean Cavanagh reports, could amount to one of the most massive and lucrative education-technology initiatives in the nation.

Los Angeles Unified officials are urging the board to approve a $30 million deal with Apple that would, in the initial phase, supply a computing device for every student and every teacher in 47 schools. As Sean explains, the deal could grow to be a half billion dollars, as the district has set a goal for giving a device to every child in the 660,000-student system.

District officials selected Apple's bid from a list of 13 proposals that were submitted for the project. On that list were other major technology and education-publishing companies such as AT&T, Google, IBM, and McGraw-Hill.

Missing from the list of 13 primary bidders is Amplify, the education division for Rupert Murdoch's global media conglomerate News Corp. Amplify's chief executive officer is former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. But that doesn't mean that the company—which unveiled its new tablet device preloaded with lessons and classroom-management tools for teachers earlier this spring—may not have been in on a bid as a partner.

Given that both Murdoch and Klein were among the big-spending, out-of-town contributors to the recent school board elections in Los Angeles, there was plenty of speculation that Amplify was trying to position itself to make a major play for the Los Angeles Unified technology contract.

Murdoch's company gave $250,000 and Klein personally contributed $25,000 to the Coalition for School Reform, a political action committee that raised and spent millions of dollars to elect candidates who support Superintendent John Deasy's agenda for the school district. Two of the coalition's favored candidates ended up losing.

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