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ERDI head: Criticism of school technology group misses mark

Both interim superintendent Verletta White and former superintendent Dallas Dance worked as consultants to travel twice a year to conferences where they and other school administrators from around the nation would meet privately in three hour sessions with executives of companies that produce education technology for school districts.

I was saddened and profoundly troubled by assertions contained in Julie Sugar’s and Laurie Taylor-Mitchell’s letter to the editor — assertions that are simply false (“A critical decision for Balt. Co. schools,” Dec. 4). I hope to clear them up here. First, ERDI is a research and development institute. It enters no contracts with school districts and advocates for no vendor of a product or service. Second, it receives no compensation from school districts and does not act as agent for any vendor of a school district. Third, it negotiates no agreements between school districts and vendors.

ERDI provides an objective forum, enabling developers of educational products and/or services to receive candid analyses, comment and critique from educators and education leaders nationwide. We offer these educators and leaders an honorarium for their time and their expertise — an honorarium many direct us to convey to their school district’s foundation or other 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

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I hold the highest respect for those who work hard every day to make their local schools the very best they can be for students, as I’m sure is the case with Ms. Sugar and Ms. Taylor-Mitchell. I hope moving forward that we can resist placing judgment before having all the facts presented to us. Otherwise, we end up demonizing the work of those who are striving to make a difference in education. Students in Baltimore and across the country need those of us working in the education space to be united in supporting their success. We look forward supporting education leaders across the country committed to that goal.

David Sundstrom, Chicago, Ill.

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The writer is CEO of ERDI.

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