Accountability Baltimore Education Industry For-Profit Technology

John Merrow: Greed (Tech + Profits + Schools) = FIASCO

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John Merrow here recounts the sad story of how Baltimore County got snookered by the tech industry, sinking hundreds of millions into a soon-to-be obsolete tech tablet while ignoring the basic needs of the sistrict’s schools.

He writes:

“It’s a breathtaking story of greed, but what’s only hinted at around the edges in the Times story is the harsh truth that this would never happen if educators, politicians and policy makers were not worshipping at the altar of standardized test scores. Tech is selling–and educators are willing buyers–a fantasy: “Buy our fancy software and hardware packages, and your test scores will soar.”

“The reporters use Baltimore County (MD) public schools as their poster child, and surely (now former) Superintendent Darryl Dance has a lot of ‘splaining to do, given the coziness of his relationship with HP and other providers. Under Dance’s leadership, his system signed a $200 MILLION contract with HP in 2014 and was also on the hook for many millions more in related contracts. In the district’s own evaluations, the HP device scored third out of the four devices tested, with only 27 points out of a possible 46, but the County signed with HP anyway.

“(The device, the Elitebook Revolve, has been plagued with problems and has been discontinued by HP, and Superintendent Dance abruptly resigned in April, no reason cited.)

“While the reporters for The Times do not come right out and call the public school people in Baltimore County and elsewhere ‘crooks’ or ‘prostitutes,’ they come pretty close…

“Sadly, this isn’t a new story. Apple sold an expensive bill of goods to Los Angeles County Public Schools years ago, and Joel Klein’s Amplify signed some lucrative contracts, deals that went south when some of the machines burst into flames. I write about those deals and other stupidities in my new book, “Addicted to Reform: A 12-Step Program to Rescue Public Education.” (The New Press, 2017)”

Dallas Dance has moved on. Baltimore County is out nearly $300 Million in total for Dance’s tech deals. The County has obsolete hardware.

Where is the accountability.

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