Makers of computers and other gear vigorously court educators as they vie for billions of dollars in school financing. Sometimes inviting criticism of their zealous marketing, they pitch via e-mail, make cold calls, arrange luncheons and hold community meetings.
But Apple in particular woos the education market with a state-of-the art sales operation that educators say is unique, and that, public-interest watchdogs say, raises some concerns. Along with more traditional methods, Apple invites educators from around the country to “executive briefings,” which participants describe as equal parts conversation, seminar and backstage pass.
Such events might seem unremarkable in the business world, where closing a deal can involve thinly veiled junkets, golf outings and lavish dinners. But the courtship of public school officials entrusted with tax dollars is a more sensitive matter. Some critics say the trips could cast doubt on the impartiality of the officials’ buying decisions, which shape the way millions of students learn.
I just bought an iPad for the winning class of FantasySCOTUS last week. I paid full price. I was not invited to any junkets.