Oracle CEO Lawrence Ellison and Apple CEO Steve Jobs today jumped into the burgeoning effort by tech companies to aid the nations schools.
Following on the announcement by Microsoft Corp. that it had settled long running private antitrust suits against it by offering a $1 billion donation in Microsoft software, hardware and training to the nations poorest schools, and a like $1 billion offer by Red Hat which included open source software, Ellison and Jobs hastily called press conferences to offer their own assistance to the nations young.
Recalling some unfortunate experiences from his own youth, Ellison announced Wednesday at Oracle headquarters a special gift of $2 billion worth of databases, software, services and training to form an "Electronic School ID and Discipline Initiative."
The purpose of the program, Ellison said, would be to allow school officials "to immediately identify and track the location of all school students using a simple, uniform electronic ID."
"No longer will students be able to skip a class, or hang out too long in the lunch room, missing valuable class time and wasting the nations precious educational resources," said Ellison. "Now, all a teacher or principle will have to do is scan a students ID to tell exactly where he or she should be, and whether the student actually belongs in that school!"
Ellison also touted the potential of the ID card to store other information vital for student well being, like class grades, blood test results, meals purchased in the cafeteria, peer group classification (i.e., geeks, jocks, burnouts, etc.), and dating history.
Ellison did not specify whether his gift would go to poorer schools, but said he simply wanted "to help school administrators who are dealing with a bunch of slackers."
Meanwhile, Apple CEO Steve Jobs took a different tack. Standing on the steps of the prestigious Ross private high school in East Hampton, N.Y., Jobs announced a $1 billion gift of Apple hardware, software, and special membership cards and coupons for Apples new retail stores to the nations upper echelon private schools.
Jobs was in town to announce the opening of a new Apple retail store in the picturesque hamlet that is the home to Steven Spielberg, Jerry Seinfeld, and Martha Stewart.
"This country wants artists! This country needs geniuses! And Mac OS X and iPod are here to help!" Jobs bellowed to polite applause from a smattering of nannies, tennis coaches and chauffeurs gathered at the school.
As Jobs handed out the first Apple discount coupons buried in special Prada gift bags with a gold leaf Apple insignia, he couldnt contain his exuberance. "It feels great to give something back to education," he said.
No doubt many tech executives are feeling the same warm feeling this holiday season.
Matt Carolan is online news editor for Interactive Week.