Ahh, so the already cash-strapped schools that can't afford to pay teachers and buy textbooks should go without modern equipment and have students learning token ring and arcnet passive hubs, because some "evil corporations" might actually be taking a gander past the latest quarterly filing and are looking to get some value out of discounting their products and services in an effort to help out a failing education system.
Besides, if the student is any good at doing this stuff, they'll learn the concepts and not just the syntax. Routers, switches, and VPN concentrators are all based on standards - they all do the same things. If they find themselves working with HP / Juniper / etc. after learning on Cisco, they can Google the syntax if they know what they are trying to set up. You know, kind of like if you learn to program in one language, and then find yourself needing to use another. Because nobody has ever switched from C to Java to Python.
And it's not like Cisco IOS holds your hand through setup like some other products do, where you really would be screwed if you started on them and didn't learn how the system works underneath.