Can the TI be a good educational tool to help teach programming concepts? Yep, it sure can be. Better tool than the iPad? Probably, yes.
But that's not really the educational niche for which Apple is pushing the iPad in the classroom. It's basically being sold as an electronic textbook, which isn't necessarily a bad concept. Having one very portable device to haul around instead of four to six heavy books is great. Not having to print a massive number of new textbooks every year? Also nice. Videos and audio embedded in the text? That can be a real asset, and that's not achievable with traditional textbooks. Being able to start at a high level with a complex multicellular organism and drill down to the sub-cellular level? Pretty nifty.
There are also things like real-time quizzes, where a teacher asks a question, the students answer on their tablets, and the teacher gets immediate feedback about both the group as a whole and the individual students.
I'm not saying that tablets are a cure to our educational woes, nor do I think they are a huge educational revolution. But I think they are tools that can be used effectively in an educational setting. Personally, I think part of the problem is that kids spend too much time with their heads in books, e- or otherwise, focusing on theory and not enough time getting their hands dirty applying those theories. The TI calculator is an example of a tool that can help with the latter. But that doesn't negate the value that a properly employed iPad-or-other-tablet can also bring. It just means using different available tools in conjunction with one another.