The day Joel Klein resigned as New York City schools chancellor in November 2010, he said he would be joining Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation “to put [the company] in the burgeoning and dynamic education marketplace.”
But after quickly acquiring people and companies, Klein decamped for a year to lead NewsCorp’s internal handling of its phone-hacking scandal. Just what, if anything, was happening behind the education division’s doors remained far out of public view.
That changed today. A month after Klein returned to the division fulltime, NewsCorp announced in a press release that the division has a name, a website, and a mission: “reimagining K-12 education by creating digital products and services that empower students, teachers and parents in new ways.”
The division, named Amplify, will work with AT&T to bring some of those products and services to schools starting this fall. The press release says the division will amplify “insight” through Wireless Generation, the NewsCorp-owned technology company that developed the city’s internal data warehouse, ARIS, and now works in all 50 states; amplify “learning” by creating curriculum materials that are aligned to the Common Core learning standards; and amplify “access” by putting all of its tools on tablet devices that operate wirelessly.
Amplify’s promotional materials define it as a “company” and call its tools “products,” but neither the press release nor the website provides any clue about how much the division’s tools would cost districts and schools. In the first year, AT&T will provide tablets and wireless access to participating schools.
In a post on Amplify’s website, Klein offers a preemptive strike against “skeptics” who do not think private companies should be involved in public education.
“The private sector should not drive teaching and learning innovations, but private-sector investment and involvement can (and should) accelerate such innovations in partnership with experts and educators in the field,” Klein writes. “There is no one sector-specific solution here.”