What does this have to do with liberals?
Education has been a battle ground in the culture wars for decades in the United States, especially in California where education and government policy regarding it has been the source of much strife between those who favor parental choice and private education and those who favor government control, higher taxes and limitation of private options. In California we spend over half of the entire annual budget on education and hardly an election goes by without school bond measures and other education related initiatives on statewide ballots. In California education is a political issue and the left has used it as a lever to advance other goals of the long term liberal project, not least among them indoctrination of children into a leftist world view.
I consider myself left of center
Which would make you a liberal. To the extent that I'm right of center, I'm a conservative.
My wife is a teacher with a masters degree and she makes $42K. That is not an obscene pay.
No it's not. In fact she should probably be earning more. If we had more private education and less government bureaucracy then not only would children receive a much higher quality of education, but your wife would be receiving a salary more commensurate with her abilities as a teacher (read higher). Charter schools and vouchers work and they increase quality of education substantially wherever they are tried, even in poorer inner city areas, but they're anathema to those on the left who oppose vehemently any attempt to loosen the grip of government control over our schools.
yet technology is being forced on the schools by private companies looking to secure extra taxpayer money
Whenever the government loosens the strings of the public purse there are always scores of petitioners looking for ways to get their piece of the government largesse. In private schools, you don't see these sorts of wasteful spending because there are market incentives to either turn a profit or in the case of parochial schools (usually catholic) a religious obligation to provide quality education to the greatest number of students at the lowest average price. The only way to do either of these things is to maximize efficiency. There's no comparable mechanism in public schools funded by the government to enforce fiscal discipline and efficiency, particularly in administration.
Moreover the parents largely approve of these private companies and support increasing technology in the classroom.
They support them because they're not asked to pay for them directly but rather indirectly through taxes which encourages a wasteful attitude towards the spending. I wonder how many of these parents would continue to support iPads for every student if they were required to pay even some of the cost, say $100, directly out of their own pockets. At the very least, they would view the proposed technology purchases with a more critical eye towards cost benefit if they where being asked to shell out their own money for the devices.
The problem is that everyone wants to blame the government or teachers instead of taking personal responsibility and acting as parents for their kid.
But that's just it. The government and the teachers unions make it difficult or impossible for many parents to exercise the control and discretion necessary to take on that responsibility. Most parents want what's best for their children, in their judgment as parents, but the government and the teachers unions are often standing on their shoes or acting against the interests of parents and children when it comes to reform and change.