Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters is a watchdog who scrutinizes every contract that is about to be adopted by the New York City Department of Education. Last year, she stopped a contract from being approved for nearly $700 million, because the vendors had previously cheated the city. This is one she couldn’t stop.
Huge Amazon contract as well as others going to sleazy special ed vendors won unanimous approval last night without a single comment or question from PEP members; wow do I miss Patrick Sullivan on the PEP!
Though the article says it may save the DOE money, there is no mention of the huge outlay moving to digital content will require for the purchase of tablets, laptops and e-readers, with all the risk that involves.
Nor was there any discussion last night or in the article of the risk to student privacy or the substantial research showing kids comprehend and retain less when reading from screens than physical books.
The contract will also steer kids and families from buying their own books for independent reading books through Amazon, as each student will have an individual Amazon account set up, which will likely expand Amazon’s dominance of the marketplace even more, a dominance that the company has used ruthlessly in the face of protests from authors and publishing houses.
Just one among many of the breathtaking moments from last night’s PEP.
Amazon Wins $30 Million Contract to Sell E-Books to New York City Schools
Panel at nation’s largest district votes in favor of three-year agreement
Amazon.com Inc. won a deal worth about $30 million to provide e-books to New York City, the nation’s largest school district.
The city’s Panel for Educational Policy voted Wednesday in favor of the three-year contract for the Department of Education, which will take effect in the coming school year. They will have the option to extend it for an additional two years, which would be worth an estimated additional $34.5 million.
With the vote, Amazon won the right to sell digital textbooks and other content, though not hardware like Kindles, to New York schools through an internal marketplace site. The school district has about 1.1 million pupils in more than 1,800 schools.
An Amazon spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The New York education department expects to buy about $4.3 million of content from Amazon in the first year of the contract, $8.6 million in the second year and $17.2 million in the third, which the Seattle retailer earning a commission of between 10% and 15%.
The deal is a boost to Amazon as it seeks to establish itself as a player in education. Many technology firms have set their sights on the classroom, viewing it as ripe for modernization and an effective way to establish their brands with potentially lifelong buyers at a young age.
For New York, there may be savings in buying more digital books, as well as the prospect of saving storage space for printed texts. The education department said e-books purchased from Amazon through its marketplace site will be readable on a variety of devices include e-readers, tablets, smartphones and laptops.
Amazon has dipped its toes into education before, including buying startup TenMarks Education, which helps teachers create math curricula. And earlier this year, it rolled out a public-relations campaign focused on changing children’s attitudes toward math.
The company has agreements to operate co-branded websites selling textbooks and other merchandise to a handful of colleges including University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Purdue University, where it is installing package pickup centers.
Write to Greg Bensinger at email@example.com
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