Charlotte-Mecklenburg's principals will meet with a team from Apple on Wednesday and Thursday to launch a school year that's focused on turning each school into a "school of choice."
The two-day "transformation summit" is central to Superintendent Heath Morrison's vision for long-term academic success, in which principals lead faculty, families, students and community partners in creating schools with individually tailored academic programs, teaching strategies and schedules.
But every time Morrison and his staff enthuse about the Apple-led sessions, I scratch my head. Isn't Apple in the business of selling computers, digital devices and software? Wouldn't any vendor leap at the chance to lead a planning session for the nation's 17th largest school district?
In a 2011 series on "Grading the Digital School," the New York Times noted Apple's savvy at "wooing and wowing" educators.
"The demand for technology in classrooms has given rise to a slick and fast-growing sales force. 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," reporter Matt Richtel wrote.
"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."
This week's session follows a trip by Morrison and four other CMS administrators to Apple headquarters in July. But Block said the exchange of visits isn't tied to a CMS purchase. "We have no idea if it's going to translate into the use of Apple products," Block said.