In a post yesterday, Tom Aswell, whose blog is called Louisiana Voice, reminded his readers about what is truly driving the corporate education reform industry – tapping into what they perceive to be a $500 billion market.
What Tom may not have realized is Connecticut’s ongoing connection to that statement.
Murdoch’s quote comes from November 2010 when, after hiring education reformer and former New York City Chancellor of Education Joel Klein, Murdoch’s News Corporation bought Wireless Generation, a privately-held education technology company for about $360 million in cash.
In the corporate press release, News Corporation Chairman and CEO, Rupert Murdoch told reporters, “When it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of great teaching…Wireless Generation is at the forefront of individualized, technology-based learning that is poised to revolutionize public education for a new generation of students.”
At the time, Wireless Generation’s marketing propaganda noted, “At Wireless Generation in Brooklyn, software engineers are working with Achievement First to build a commercial version of the software that the charter operator uses to monitor student and teacher performance. Operating out of stylish offices in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn, the 350-employee firm will take in $65 million in revenue this year and is growing at a 20% annual rate.”
News Corporation told its investors that the purchase of Wireless Generation was part of a broader effort to “make seed investments in entrepreneurial education companies.”
For example, last May, Wireless Generation, in turn, bought a California company called Intel-Assess.
Wireless Generation explained, “With the acquisition of Intel-Assess, a premier developer of custom and finished education content, Wireless Generation will significantly increase the number of assessment items and related tools available to complement its formative assessment platform. In addition, the acquisition will help Wireless Generation make available high quality assessments aligned with the Common Core State Standards to customers in thousands of districts across the U.S.”
About the same time, News Corporation further developed their strategy by creating a company called Amplify, whose CEO is Joel Klein. Wireless Generation is part of Amplify and Amplify describes itself as, “a new business dedicated to reimagining K-12 education by creating digital products and services that empower teachers, students and parents in new ways. Amplify is focused on transforming teaching and learning by creating and scaling digital innovations in three areas: analytics and assessment, content and curriculum and distribution and delivery.”
Soon after, Amplify partnered with AT&T. In their joint press release, the consortium explained that they will be introducing “new curriculum and platform products” throughout the United States.
And as luck would have it, one of the five school districts chosen for the Amplify, Wireless Generation, AT&T pilot program was none other than East Haven, Connecticut.
Last August, the East Haven Patch on-line newspaper headline read, “East Haven Schools Selected for Education Technology Pilot Program.”
The article explained, “The district’s 7th grade students will take part in a Wireless Generation pilot program that features the use of Android tablets and an online platform for academic curriculum. The school system is partnering with a national educational technology company for a pilot program that features the use of mobile tablet computers to access an online curriculum.
For the new pilot, Wireless Generation will be providing all of the equipment, as well as ongoing on-site support for the program, during its duration. The company is expected to create a satellite office here in Connecticut to serve the East Haven leg of the project, which will be staffed by two technical experts and two content experts. The cost is entirely picked up by Wireless Generation.”
Hooray! Free stuff…
So it turns out, when Rupert Murdoch talked about the $500 billion money making opportunity out there called America’s public education system, little did he know what a special role we’d be playing in helping him tap into that market.