It isn’t uncommon to see Baltimore County Public School district students walking around with laptops in their arms. The 25th largest public school system in the U.S. has embraced technology, thanks to a $200 million deal for HP laptops that was struck in 2014. But is there a need for such deals? How much better do children learn with laptops?
This is what Natasha Singer and Danielle Ivory asked in a recent piece for the New York Times. HP is now promoting the school district as a model for other up-and-coming districts that could supposedly use its technology. But it’s what goes on behind the scenes that has some people concerned.
“Tech companies have not gone as far as drug companies, which have regularly paid doctors to give speeches,” Singer and Ivory write. “But industry practices, like flying school officials to speak at events and taking school leaders to steak and sushi restaurants, merit examination, some experts say.”
Digital Promise chief executive Karen Cator says it’s important for schools and the tech industry to work closely together. However, she vouches for transparency along the way.
“We want a healthy, void-of-conflict-of-interest relationship between people who create products for education and their customers,” she told the New York Times. “The reason is so that companies can create the best possible products to meet the needs of schools.”
So where do public school districts draw the line when it comes to offers from tech giants? Furthermore, what do parents have to say about the businesses courting their kids’ schools?