Silicon Valley wants to sell computers to school systems. Get the young ‘uns using your computers at an early age and they are hooked for life. Apple built its market through the school systems. But, competition is now more fierce, so the tech firms are courting the school systems.
Courting includes donations to the system’s Education Foundation. In exchange the Foundation put-up banners with company names, a way to get the name of your computer or program into every school. In addition, the companies sponsor administrators in the system for trips to share their experiences in students using laptops. One administrator has enjoyed 65 out-of-state trips at the expense of vendors.
The Foundation has no policy on donors and members of the Foundation’s board include representatives from the tech firms. Sometimes board members are voting on proposals submitted to the Foundation by tech companies. The school system has a policy of not allowing employees to accept travel from vendors when they have proposals pending before the district. The rule allows for plenty of activity when the proposals are not pending.
If all of this sounds like quids for quos and conflicts, well, that would be because there are quids for quos and conflicts. Based on a New York Times article covering the close relationships and perks, Baltimore has begun an investigation. Good call.