Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

The Silicon Valley Watcher Challenge: To Raise $10K for Schools

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 13, 2007

The other day I got into trouble with Cisco's outside PR agency, the 463 because John Chambers, Cisco CEO continued to complain about education in the US, saying the same things he has been saying for many years. So I complained that I've been hearing these same things time and again. (Please see my TechNet post: John Chambers Marks Dull Innovation Summit Panel- Content Was"Slightly Less Useless" Than Prior Panels )

Among Mr Chambers comments, he said that our local school system is broken and can't be fixed.

I was on a panel with Mr Chambers two years ago. I spoke about how Silicon Valley's public schools are basketcases when they should be showcases.

It is embarrassing. Silicon Valley says to the world we are inventing the future yet our communities suffer from terrible public schools! Is this the future?!

He said Tom, we tried to tried but the system is broken and can't be fixed. And he said the same thing last Thursday too. Cisco was a big supporter for school vouchers, a controversial proposal designed to let parents help pay for private education with public school funds. I'm not sure if this initiative is what he was referring to.

I was told by his PR person that Mr Chambers has done a lot for education around the world. And I applaud his work and the medals and awards his work has earned. However, I'm surprised that he would give up so easily with improving Silicon Valley's local schools.

A "CraigsList" for schools

There are many things that could be done for schools, especially in applying the tools for building social media communities. This is a key emerging business for Cisco it would be a great demonstration of its tools and technologies.

Within walking distance of every local school in the Silicon Valley/Bay Area there is a tremendous amount of resources that could help raise the standard of education for all, regardless of income. This area is the 10th richest economic region in the world.

Why not build a type of "CraigsList" around every school? It would bring the local community closer to its local schools. If a teacher needs a box of pencils or a volunteer to explain rocket science, they could post it online.

This "CraigsList" for schools could also offer a collaborative platform for the teachers, students, and parents. It could offer online tutoring. It could fund free broadband for the schools. If set up as an independent venture, it could possibly fund these activities by offering commercial broadband services to local businesses. It might cost a few bucks more per month but the local businesses would know the money is going back into their communities.

Silicon Valley/Bay Area schools could very easily, and inexpensively become wonderful showcases for the transforming power of the technologies being developed here.

I refuse to believe that our local school system cannot be fixed. And I refuse to believe that John Chambers and our other local captains of industry cannot find a solution to this problem.

We have world class leaders here in the Bay Area, there is nothing that they cannot accomplish.

Where there is a will there is a way, and hopefully my humble post might renew Mr Chambers interest in revisiting this challenge.

Silicon Valley Watcher Challenge: $10K for schools


And in the meantime, I challenge my readers to help raise $10,000 for schools through a challenge on DonorsChoice.org. There are many classroom projects to choose from. This is part of the Lit Liberation challenge established by Tim Ferriss, the author of "The 4-Hour Work Week."

Tim asked Silicon Valley Watcher and a small group of other online publishers to help raise a total of $1m for schools around the world. More details are here, from Brian Solis:

Tim Ferriss Forms LitLiberation to Raise $1 Million in One Month

Take a look at some of the school projects on this page and help schools here and elsewhere:

Help Public School Kids by Funding Silicon Valley Watcher Challenge at DonorsChoose

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