Google guy to weigh in on school tech funds?

by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

schmidt1Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, has been named by Governor Cuomo to a commission “charged with advising the State on how to best invest the Governor’s proposed $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act in order to enhance teaching and learning through technology,” as announced by the governor’s office today.*

Schmidt provided this quote for the governor’s press release:

“To prepare today’s students to compete in the global innovation economy, schools need to provide modern educational environments that include the latest technology. New York State’s efforts to upgrade classrooms with critical infrastructure like high-speed broadband and to equip students with digital devices are welcome first steps in achieving that goal.”

Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he? By pumping more dollars for tech purchases into what’s already America’s best-funded K-12 education system, the proposed $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act will expand an important market for Google, which competes with Apple and Microsoft to sell laptops, tablet computers and other devices to schools. Did this somehow escape the governor’s notice?

Oddly enough, the two other new appointees to the Smart Schools Commission are not named Tim Cook or Bill Gates.  They are Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO for Harlem Children’s Zone, and Constance Evelyn, Superintendent of the Auburn School District in Cayuga County.

New Yorkers will have the final say on whether to create more customers for Google borrow $2 billion to buy more computers, whiteboards and other tech stuff for schools in a statewide referendum in November.

* The original version of this post erroneously stated that Schmidt would chair the commission.  He won’t — he’s just one of the members.

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- E.J. McMahon is the Research Director at the Empire Center for Public Policy.