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School superintendents tell marketers to cool it during COVID-19


SEATTLE, May 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- COVID-19 has unleashed a tsunami of work for school superintendents as they distribute food to students, implement distance learning, and prepare for a different fall school environment. What's not helping, they say, is a flood of sales calls from technology vendors offering to help.

The National Superintendents Roundtable surveyed its 97 members after one of them took to Twitter to tell marketers to "just stop." Sixty-seven responded and their answers reveal a deep vein of irritation with marketing campaigns aimed at schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"What superintendents want most is to be left alone in the middle of this crisis," says James Harvey, executive director of the Roundtable. "They worry that unvalidated products are being marketed to parents and teachers that distract from the district's mission."

Other findings:

• Just 46 percent of superintendents reported they are the right person to be contacted about technology needs.

• Only 20 percent of interactions with vendors have been positive since the COVID-19 outbreak, while 32 percent have been negative.

• 48 percent worry about vendors marketing unvalidated products to teachers and parents.

Three quarters of superintendents view the possibility of adopting and buying free products and services downstream with a skeptical eye. Districts need to review them, and superintendents expect budgets to tighten.

What superintendents need most from technology vendors

For now, superintendents want to be left alone (46 percent) or they want to vet free products and services before purchase (57 percent). Just 15 percent express interest in free products and services.

"We will find you if and when we need you," was a common refrain.

Professional Development is the solution superintendents seek most now from ed-tech firms, followed by Supplemental Curriculum, Technology Hardware and Basal Curriculum (books that teach reading).

Acknowledging that technology companies have made great contributions to American education and that superintendents report good relationships with many vendors, Harvey suggests that technology companies step lightly in the current environment. "Explore what schools need without pushing products off the shelf to the front office," he says. "Such an approach is likely to serve vendors well in the long run."

To read full survey results visit

About the Roundtable

The National Superintendents Roundtable ( is a community of school superintendents committed to "leadership for just and humane schools."

SOURCE National Superintendents Roundtable


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