Really, it’s about the children:
News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch wants to focus on his A-B-Cs. The media giant, parent of the Fox network, Fox News Channel, 20th Century Fox and the Wall Street Journal, wants to make a push into the education business and has tapped New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein to be the point person.
In a press conference, Klein said he’d been tapped by News Corp. to “put them in the burgeoning and dynamic education marketplace.”
Sure, Klein is probably earning more money than God in his new role as executive vice president at News Corp. But the Justice Department attorney turned data-and-accountability school reformer signed up with Murdoch to get out of the harsh political limelight and help News Corp. make a mint selling educational technology products to school districts.
Last November, shortly after hiring Klein, News Corp. acquired Wireless Generation, an education technology firm that had worked closely with Klein during his tenure as chancellor on two projects: ARIS, acontroversial (and buggy) data system that warehouses students’ standardized test scores and demographic profiles; and School of One, a more radical attempt to use technology to personalize instruction, reorganize classrooms, and reduce the size of the teaching force.
School of One. Sounds lonely to me. The corporate school reform team better market-test that. Maybe they could do one of those Fox News Luntz groups.
The acquisition put Klein, who was set to supervise Wireless Generation, in an awkward position vis à vis city ethics regulations.
It seemed unlikely Klein would be able to fully follow those mandates when, in May, the city Department of Education renewed its contract with Wireless Generation, asking the company to provide testing materials and software. Last month, New York State moved to award Wireless Generation a $27 million no-bid contact to create a state student data-tracking system similar to ARIS—despite the fact that many New York City principals have decided not to use the $80 million software, which doesn’t track helpful day-to-day information on attendance, behavior or homework completion.
News Corporation today announced that Kristen Kane, former Chief Operating Officer, New York City Department of Education and Dr. Peter Gorman, former Superintendent, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will take on leadership roles at its newly formed Education Division.
“I’m thrilled to join News Corporation, and to work with someone of Joel’s caliber, and the rest of his team, to transform the educational system through digital technology and other means,” said Dr. Gorman. “News Corporation has a reputation for leading significant change across many industries, and I look forward to what lies ahead for the education sector.”
I think it’s great that the corporate reformers have (finally) dropped the sentimental and deceptive nonsense about “the children” and now discuss their industry, the education sector. Second graders don’t really stand a chance unless we can get these people to tell the truth.
Some media companies view education as a major growth area. The Washington Post Co. relies heavily on its education unit Kaplan Inc. In the Washington Post Co.’s third-quarter results, Kaplan had revenue of $743.3 million. It accounted for over 60% of the entire company’s revenue, according to the Washington Post. Walt Disney Co. is also a player in this field with its Disney-branded schools, and the New York Times has launched the New York Times Knowledge Network.
If Issue Two passes in Ohio, unions will be out of the way and we can move right to “branding” my local public schools with a corporate logo. Will we get a choice of brands, do you think? I’m not going to end up with “Koch Industries” am I?
The same media companies that have launched a crusade to discredit public schools and demonize public school teachers are in the for-profit education business. With FOX now entering the burgeoning for-profit education sector I’m confident media coverage of traditional public schools will only get more fair and balanced.