K-12 Industry Group, School Organization Discuss Arrangement to Recommend Companies

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The Education Industry Association, which represents companies that do business with schools, is hoping to make recommendations on technology and instructional products and services through a school organization representing 13,000 district administrators.

In a statement released this week, the EIA said it wants to make its recommendations through the American Association of School Administrators’ School Solutions Center, a resource designed to help AASA members make high-quality purchases and control costs.

Chuck Woodruff, the AASA’s chief operating officer, cautioned in an interview with Education Week that the two organizations are only exploring an arrangement at this point, and that any such deal is still a ways from being finalized. There are “large potential benefits, but there some thing we still have to work out,” Woodruff said Wednesday.

What’s the benefit to vendors who receive that recommendation? The EIA says it will help companies “promote [the] AASA connection to local district decisionmakers.”

The School Solutions Center was created in 2009 as a resource for AASA members seeking to control costs, and make purchases and decisions that benefit schools, according to a description on the AASA’s website. The organization offers the caveat that “districts should do their own due diligence before signing contracts with the companies that belong to the AASA School Solutions Center.” The AASA draws a small portion of revenue from companies who participate, based on the extent of their business with schools, Woodruff explained.

The EIA has made a recent push on several fronts to make it easier for commercial vendors to gain access to K-12 schools and understand schools’ needs.

Those efforts will include plans to try to work with policymakers to streamline the process through which school districts buy products and services. The EIA is also trying to work with for-profit companies to obtain independent research on their products, a process that can be costly and confusing for vendors.

Update: I’ve updated this post with comments from Woodruff at the AASA, who said that discussions between the two groups are underway, but that no agreement has been reached yet. Woodruff said he expects more details to emerge over the coming month.

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