How Tech Companies Influenced Education in Maryland

For the past few years, ambitious classroom technology has thrived in Baltimore County Public Schools. In fact, no other schools in the country have pursued the same makeovers like Baltimore County Public Schools. However, the relationship between the schools and notable technology holders has come under intense scrutiny in the last few days. A legislator in the state of Maryland announced on Thursday that the state is investigating whether there was foul play in influencing the way technology contracts were awarded in the state. Maryland State Board of Education has been requested by Senator James Brochin to carry out a thorough audit regarding these contracts. This involved a 2014 decision by the district to dedicate close to $205 million to staff and student laptops. These laptops would be used for language software and math. The senator and lawmakers suspect there was foul play in the way that the contract was awarded as audit shows that the tender went to a company that came third in hardware evaluations carried out by the state.

This came to light after the New York Times wrote an article last week highlighting the role that tech companies can play in influencing decisions by school leaders. The Times focused on the Baltimore County which at the moment is the 25th largest public school in America. A newspaper in the state of Maryland called Baltimore Sun wrote an article based on the out-of-state travel by the former district superintendent of the district. The New York Times wrote that major technology firms paid for rooms and meals at fancy hotels for these school leaders with the aim of wooing them. The Times further found out that the tech companies paid for the travel of these officials. The also participated in confidential meetings for contracts that were later awarded. This meant that tech companies could access key decision makers in the state without struggling.

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Dil Bole Oberoi