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Murdoch buys education technology company



I am a deep believer in the power of data to drive our decisions. Data gives us the roadmap to reform. It tells us where we are, where we need to go, and who is most at risk.
--Arne Duncan,
Speech to the Fourth Annual IES Research Conference
June 8, 2009



Ohanian Comment: You need to know who/what Wireless Generation is:
Wireless Generation: The firm markets technology used by over 200,000 teachers in 49 states, pumping out the endless supply of numbers that allow schools to track student reading skills by using handheld computers and to automatically upload data to be analyzed [sic] by web software. Just keeping them all buzzing with busyness under the corporate-politico thumb, doing the Business Roundtable's bidding.

I've been following this outfit for a number of years.

Wireless Generation in the news:



  • Wireless Generation made big bucks off Reading First.
    --Andrew Bronstein
    Thompson Publications

    April 2007

  • Instant Read on Reading in the Palm of Their Hands
    Education Week salivates over all those data points Wireless Generation can deliver.
    --May 2, 2007


  • Once you've got the babies labeled, you can start getting them ready for mCLASS:DIBELS Reading Street Edition created by a partnership between Pearson Scott Foresman and Wireless Generation. According to their press release, this "guide teachers of the Reading Street K-6 reading program to specific lessons based on results from mCLASS: DIBELS software, a handheld computer-based version of the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) early reading assessment."
    --August 8, 2007


  • When Barbara Ehrenreich wrote of the cult of conspicuous busyness two decades ago in the HERS column in the New York Times, Feb, 21, 1985, she was talking about upwardly mobile, professional women. Now Reading First has brought this frantic busyness to schools. Wirelesss Generation is a key culprit.

    --Sept. 8, 2007


  • Larry Berger, the CEO of the maker of a software product that 200 New York City schools have purchased, Wireless Generation, said Market Maker has transformed the way principals do their jobs. "If something didn't work, principals used to say, 'Another bad decision by the central office,'" Mr. Berger said. "Now, they know it's their decision."
    --Elizabeth Green
    New York Sun
    Oct. 26, 20007


  • Larry Berger, CEO and Founder of Wireless Generation was 2007 inaugural Fellow for the Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Program, created by The Aspen Institute and the New Schools Venture Fund.


  • "This preschool scheme is not about preparing these little ones to be ready for school," said Jay Spuck, a retired Houston area school administrator, former classroom teacher and education advocate. "It is about advancing a
    political agenda of implanting corporate
    interests into nursery schools. It is all about
    trademarks, copyrights, patents, contracts,
    royalties, power and greed. The goal is to
    privatize education, 'cradle to college.'"
    Gary Scharrer
    San Antonio Express-News
    Nov. 9, 2008


  • The Wireless Generation-Dibels Connection
    --Washington Post & District Administration
    January 8, 2009


  • Notable Claim: CEO Larry Berger says the business plan is that schools will use the money saved on textbooks to buy assessment and intervention tools based on research into developmental psychology. If you wait till third grade to discover that a kid has reading problems, says Berger, it can take 300 hours of teacher time to correct. But use assessment tools to catch the same problem when the child is just 5, and a teacher can fix it with 15-minute bursts of extra attention -- and spare the kid and the school system the stratospheric costs of special education.�MSN
    comment on advertisement
    Money, Jan. 14, 2008
    Feb. 23, 2010


  • Take a look at the July 2008 non-competitive renewal contract with Wireless Generation signed by then-Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan.

    --July 23 2008


  • Don't miss the inbreeding among board members of Plato, Voyager Expanded Learning, Wireless Generation, Best Associates, KinderCare Learning Centers, Discovery Communications, Renaissance Learning, Teachers Support Network, and Horace Mann Educators Corp., NCS Pearson, and so on.
    -- Connecting the Dots
    Jay Spuck and Susan Ohanian
    Business Week, Wireless PR, & Chicago contract
    August 17, 2009-08-17


  • Along with Joel Klein and Susan Fuhrman, Wireless Generation CEO is member of Strategic Management of Human Capital Task Force. Their position paper is very scary reading.

    --Oct. 18, 2009


  • From the Wireless website: Josh Reibel, President and Chief Operating Officer, Wireless Generation. Wireless Generation has broken new ground with technology that analyzes student data and provides curriculum customized to individual learning needs. Wireless Generation also builds large-scale data systems, such as New York City's ARIS, that centralize student data and give educators and parents unprecedented visibility into learning. . . .Wireless Generation currently serves more than 200,000 educators and 3 million students.
    New York City connection
    --Oct. 18, 2009


  • Here comes the snake oil to grease the Race to the Top
  • NOTE: Wireless Generation,which partners with DIBELS [Wireless software, allowing teachers to score the test on a handheld computer is ubiquitous in schools receiving NCLB funds]. Wireless CEO and founder Larry Berger was 2007 inaugural Fellow for the Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Program, created by The Aspen Institute and the New Schools Venture Fund; member of the Board of Overseers for the Annenberg Institute on School Reform; speaker at DIBELS summit, Albuquerque, Feb. 18, 2009, where Wireless Generation team gave speech titled, "Adaptive Algorithms: Aligning Instruction with DIBELS Assessment Results." Included in Berger's biography at GoBiz: "Wireless Generation's mCLASS products and services streamline collection of data about student learning needs and school operations, facilitate data analysis and interpretation, and build educators' capacity to implement data-driven instructional programs that deliver better outcomes for more than 2.5 million children."

    -- advertisement
    February 23, 2010


  • Refutation: "Most schools would probably be better off if they threw their computers into the Dumpster."
    --Michael Fellows, computer scientist, University of Victoria, British Columbia, quoted in Silicon Snake Oil, by Clifford Stoll

    Refutation: In Finland, which scores at the top of OECD countries in reading and math, does not even begin teaching skills until age 7 or 8. That way, nobody age five will be called a failure.
    --Susan Ohanian, website

    Refutation: DIBELS is the worst thing to happen to the teaching of reading since the invention of flashcards.
    --P. David Pearson in The Truth About DIBELS: What It is and What It Does, Ed. Kenneth Goodman (Heinemann 2006)

    Refutation:

    Question: Your anecdotes. . . .

    Answer: I'd like to call these data." --David Berliner
    C-span, April 28, 2007

    The U. S. Department of Education Announces Data-Driven Education News Channel, On Air 24/7
    Data Recipes:

    Al dente
    Au juis
    Ã la carte
    Ã la king
    Ã la mode
    Ã la money

    Baked
    Braised
    Boiled
    Beaten
    Butchered

    Canned
    Curried
    Creamed
    Churned
    Charred

    Diced
    Deveined
    Deglazed
    Drained

    Flaked
    Fricasséed
    Fondued
    Frittered

    Grated
    Gratineed
    Ground
    Goosed

    Iced
    Infused
    Irradiated

    Jellied
    Julienne
    Juiced

    Kneaded
    Molded
    Marinated
    Macerated

    Overdone

    Peeled
    Parboiled
    Poached
    Puréed
    Pickled
    Pressed
    Pinched

    Raw
    Roasted
    Reduced
    Reconstituted
    Refried

    Sliced
    Sauted
    Stewed
    Stuffed
    Steamed
    Skewered
    Smeared
    Sucked Dry

    Toasted
    Tenderized
    Truffled
    Trussed
    Triple Secced
    Tutti-fruittied
    Tossed

    Unleavened
    Unsalted
    Upside down caked

    Vinaigretted
    Vol-au-vented
    Vivisected

    Waffled
    Wall-eyed
    Waxed
    Woked
    Whisked
    Whipped

    With Carrot Sticks
    On rye
    And a grain of salt

    With pomp
    And circumstance

    Signifying
    Nothing


    Data Sightings
    apple-polisher
    backseat driver
    bully
    bulldozer

    Data
    carbon footprint
    chopping block
    crying wolf

    Data
    dead end
    dumpster

    Data
    eat you alive
    environmental impact statement

    Data
    foreplay
    flatulence
    fall guy

    Data
    gone bananas
    hell in a handbasket
    interruptus

    Data
    jump to conclusions
    knuckle under

    Data
    led by the nose
    lower the boom
    mystery meat
    mudsling
    miles per hour

    Data
    needle in a haystack
    nutty as a fruitcake
    not worth the paper it's printed on

    Data
    out to lunch
    protective services
    quisling

    Data
    radioactive decay
    rat race
    rules the roost

    Data
    scapegoat
    showboat
    screw loose
    sell you the Brooklyn Bridge

    Data
    too pooped to pop
    tsunami


    Data
    under a cloud
    upchuck

    Data
    vilification
    voodoo

    Data
    wild goose chase
    Waterloo





    By Valerie Strauss

    [Disclosure: Kaplan Inc. is a for-profit education subsidiary of The Washington Post Co., which publishes The Washington Post, my employer.]

    This didn't take long: Joel Klein announces Nov. 9 that at year's end he will resign as York City's Schools chancellor to become executive vice president at Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Yesterday, the company announced that it was buying a technology company with big financial ties to the New York City school system.

    Murdoch's company, according to a story at businesswire.com, is acquiring 90 percent of Wireless Generation, a privately held Brooklyn-based education technology company, for approximately $360 million in cash. It will become a subsidiary of News Corp.

    One of the things Wireless Generation does is build large-scale data systems that centralize student data and is a "key partner to New York City's Department of Education on its Achievement Reporting and Innovation System (ARIS) as well as on the City's School of One initiative," the story said.

    (The ARIS contracts -- worth tens of millions of dollars -- and the contracts the New York City Education Department has issued for its School of One program were apparently negotiated rather than competitively bid.)

    After Klein's announcement, News Corp. officials told the New York Times that Klein would advise Murdoch on a number of initiatives, including "developing business strategies for the emerging educational marketplace."

    Murdoch, chairman and chief operating officer of News Corp., has taken a keen interest in education reform lately, investing in Teach for America and some charter schools.

    I wonder why.

    "When it comes to K through 12 education," Murdoch said in a statement about the Wireless Generation purchase, "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."

    No doubt "great teaching" is what motivates Murdoch (whose News Corp. had, as of Sept. 30, 2010, total assets of approximately $56 billion and total annual revenues of approximately $33 billion).

    The current wave of education reform based on "data" and"�accountability" hasn't done much to improve public schools, but it sure is helping improve the balance sheets of a lot of for-profit companies.

    It is true that some nonprofits don't operate a whole lot differently than some for-profits. And certainly for-profit businesses can and do bring valuable products and services to public schools. They make money by meeting demand, so, presumably, they fill some perceived need in the system.

    But ultimately, the loyalty of for-profit companies is to the bottom line and investors, not necessarily to the general good of public schools and kids. And they get their return on investment with public money.

    When business people decide to get into the education world in a big way, their support for specific reform measures has to be seen through the prism of money-making opportunities, not what research says works best for kids.

    Allowing business people to drive education policy is a very dangerous business. Why the Obama administration thinks this is a good idea is way beyond me.

    — Valerie Strauss, with annotation by Susan Ohanian
    Washington Post Answer Sheet

    2009-11-23

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/murdoch-buys-education-technol.html#more

    na


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