SIIA Ed-Tech Network Expands With Asset Sale of Education Industry Association

Associate Editor

The Education Industry Association, which struggled to keep membership after a downturn in federal funding for tutoring, is joining a division of the Software & Information Industry Association, or ETIN, effective immediately, under an agreement announced today.

The move adds about 50 percent more members to that division, the Education Technology Industry Network. The SIIA group will now represent about 230 member companies that provide educational software applications, digital content, online learning services and related technologies to the K-20 sector, according to Karen Billings, vice president and managing director of the network.

Terms of the agreement were not released.

“Strategically, this means—in our advocacy work—that we are representing an even larger set of vendors and education providers, and a growing diversity of types of education companies that are moving to digital in some way,” Billings said in a phone interview.

While most of the members of the EIA are not large and represent regional tutoring and learning centers, there are also some financial institutions on the list, including BMO Capital Markets, First Analysis Corp., and GSV Advisors, she said.

The move was a “conscious decision on EIA’s part to stay focused on the K-12 side, as opposed to expanding into the university side of the industry,” said Robert Lytle, managing director and co-head of education at Parthenon-EY, who chaired the board of the Education Industry Association. He will join ETIN’s board of directors as part of the agreement, which is not legally considered a merger, but rather an asset sale, he explained in a phone interview.

The EIA has undergone major changes in recent years, as the majority of its members were private tutoring firms that had benefited under the No Child Left Behind law lost a rich source of funding. That federal education law had mandated that states use 20 percent of Title I funds for after-school tutoring and transportation for school choice to eligible students using Supplemental Education Services funding.

But the U.S. Department of Education started granting waivers from that requirement in February 2012, freeing up those Title I dollars and drying up a steady source of money. SES providers ranging from large, publicly held companies to small “mom-and-pops” needed to adjust, and many of the smaller ones went out of business.

“When SES was a robust sector of the education business, EIA was at its height,” Lytle said. Founded in 1990, there were very few organizations at that time aimed at the business side of education, he said. “Now there are a dozen or so in micro-niches.”

One of EIA’s highest profile activities in recent years occurred in 2014, when the association partnered with Digital Promise, a nonprofit organization authorized by Congress to spur innovation in education, on a large procurement study that explored districts’ and companies’ frustrations with the marketplace. Early in 2015, Steve Pines—who had been EIA executive director for 10 years—announced his plans to retire later in the year.

For ETIN, the absorption of 80 new members means that it will look at more ways to serve the needs of different interests, Billings said. Jim Giovannini, who had been executive director of EIA after Pines left, is joining the steering committee for the ETIN’s upcoming Education Industry Symposium, which will be held July 25 to 27 in Denver.

And Billings said new categories of membership might mean that the 29 categories in the CODiE Awards competition, which is judged by educators, will grow in the future. The competition represents applications, products and services from developers of educational software, digital content, online learning services, and related technologies across the PreK-20 sector.

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3 thoughts on “SIIA Ed-Tech Network Expands With Asset Sale of Education Industry Association

  1. SIIA and EIA: One door closes and another one opens! The past can inform the future, so upon learning the news of the merger of EIA with SIIA that will effectively end the 26-year run of EIA, a retrospective is appropriate. EIA, as the standard-bearer for hundreds of education service providers, has made significant accomplishments for and with entrepreneurs in service to their partners/customers. This strong record of private sector innovation sets a high benchmark for the next generation of companies that seek to improve teaching and learning. I am personally excited for the possibilities created by SIIA/ETIN. Much can be learned by re-counting the pioneering work of EIA. • Entrepreneurs are tremendous sources of practical advice and support to each other. These exchanges can be more effectively facilitated by formal professional learning communities, like trade groups. EIA, formerly known as the Association for Educators in Private Practice when it was founded by Chris Yelich, fostered this core and enduring value. Through its conferences and publications, EIA advanced the expectation that its EIA members mentor, collaborate and provide business advice to one another. AEPP/EIA organized itself to foster such heartfelt collaboration. • Public-private partnerships can transform the quality of public education and the institutions entrusted with this high responsibility. EIA’s Private Ventures for the Public Good campaign helped promote the important contributions of commercial vendors, highlighting specific examples of effective public-private partnerships to the media and policy-makers. • Promoting open communication with government policy-makers and regulators helps build trust with institutions that have been cynical of the impact of commercial organizations in public education. EIA’s Hill Days with Congress and the Administration have provided our members direct access to key decision-makers, and as result, have created effective working relationships that are critical when addressing complicated policies. • Sound business ethics and high-quality services are non-negotiable. When SES (Supplemental Education Services) providers came under attack, EIA rallied its members to seize the moral high ground by developing tough standards of professional practice that were adopted by 38 state education agencies, resulting in higher quality services for students. EIA’s advocacy for its members during those times will stand out as one of its most important contributions and underscores the critical role of organizing coalitions that best leverages a group’s collective influence. • It is correct to set high standards and insist on accountability for our Nation’s schools. Likewise, we should demand transparent data about a service or product provider’s own effectiveness. Foreseeing this important trend, EIA reached out to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Research and Reform in Education to deliver rigorous, cost-effective evaluations of a developers’ service/product. The need for such evidence will only increase under EESA and organizations will be well-served to pay heed to these forces. • Transforming the performance of education institutions is complicated but real opportunity for progress can be made when schools are able to discover, evaluate and purchase quality solutions in a transparent, cost-effective manner. The challenge of current procurement practices entangles both educators and vendors. Recognizing this and the opportunity for real systems change, EIA teamed with Digital Promise and the Johns Hopkins University School of Education and obtained funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Together, they conducted national research that spotlighted opportunities for improvement and best practices in both buying and selling. This foundational study has put procurement on the front-burner as a vehicle for education reform and it has launched numerous new ventures seeking to transform transactions in the K-12 marketplace. These are just a few of good-works of EIA over the years and serve to illustrate the value-add of a membership organization. Looking ahead, the policy issues facing entrepreneurs will change, the centers of power will shift to the States and critics of the private sector in public education may re-emerge. It is my belief that SIIA/ETIN will be continue to be great stewards of the needs and interests of the private sector, including former EIA members. Strong, collective representation will serve everyone well.

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