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TechNet Day in Washington, DC – Focus on Education

March 8, 2005
at 12:00 pm PST

I’m in DC this week for TechNet Day among other various and sundry business. TechNet today released its 2005 Innovation Agenda which you may (or may not) find interesting. At the least it is an earnest attempt to give advice and guidance and thoughts on what this group of technology executives and companies find of public policy import. Among the top issues is helping improve the U.S. K-12 education system. The passion which the technology executives in attendance discussed education actually impressed me. Cisco has long talked about the importance of education as one of the primary reasons that innovation is born and a country remains competitive or gets competitive, but I had no idea how much thought most of the attendees put into this issue.

I was at another event last night where a reporter inquired if we would be discussing stock options ad nauseum (the reporter did not hide their inference that this would not make them happy). Stock options, it seems, among the reporter set is a done issue. Not so for TechNet, for Cisco and for much of the 14 million U.S. stock option holders. The issue continues to be worked on multiple fronts and we eagerly await guidance from the SEC on implementing, as well as any thoughts they have on valuation. I should add that the majority of the time at said event was not taken with a discussion of stock options, but of…education. Many of the attendees were parents of school age children and could speak first hand what worked and what did not. Further, the consensus at a luncheon session today was that the technology industry has a lot of good ideas that could be brought to bear on improving education -- it is only a matter of picking where an impact can be had -- both short term, mid- and long-term. None of the technology executives claimed to be education experts, but all want to help.

The luncheon speaker today was Senator Barack Obama [D-IL] and I must say that you should believe the hype about him. I last heard him at the Democratic convention in Boston this past summer where he silenced the oftentimes inattentive crowd -- when they weren’tt cheering for his words. When he speaks, people definitely listen. He has worked the on the education issue for a long time -- most significantly while in the Illinois Senate. The most intriguing idea that he discussed was how to get those industry professionals outside of the K-12 education system to directly benefit the K-12 education system -- much like those today in industry often move between academia, industry and government…i.e. why can’t a chemical engineer for a major drug company retire early and go teach high school chemistry? Interesting concept.

See the TechNet Innovation report here: http://www.technet.org/resources/TechNetInnovationInitiative.pdf (Adobe document)

Boilerplate on TechNet: TechNet is the national, bipartisan network of CEOs that promotes the growth of technology industries and the economy by building long-term relationships between technology leaders and policymakers and by advocating a targeted policy agenda. TechNet, based in Silicon Valley, has offices in Seattle, Boston, Austin, and Orange County (California). Web address: www.technet.org.

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