Last week, Rupert Murdoch gave an uncharacteristic presentation at the eG8 Forum in Paris: he talked about kids and schools. The media mogul seems to be branching out with a new endeavor that may also deliver some business benefits—education reform. On Tuesday, News Corp. announced that it will be partnering with the College Board, an association of educational organizations best known as the nonprofit behind the SATs, to push the issue of education in the upcoming presidential campaign.
In October 2011, the two organizations will host a forum for the Republican Party’s presidential candidates titled “The Future of American Education.” The forum, which will merge News Corp.'s political leanings with its patriarch's new found interest in education, will be hosted by two News Corp. staffers—Executive Vice President Joel Klein and Paul Gigot, who heads up The Wall Street Journal's editorial pages. The forum will give the candidates “an opportunity to outline his or her vision for improving America’s education system,” News Corp. said in a statement.
This isn't the first move to signal that Murdoch has been developing an interest in expanding into the business of education.
In November 2010, News Corp. announced that it had hired Klein, who served as chancellor of the New York City Department of Education for eight years. Klein is now an executive at the media conglomerate, reporting directly to Murdoch as a senior advisor on efforts that include business strategies for the educational marketplace. Later that same month, News Corp. announced its acquisition of Wireless Generation, a company that provides technological resources that assist teachers in tracking student progress through the use of data. This venture with Wireless Generation, which—at the time of the deal—had a contract with New York City’s Education Department for $7.5 million, marked News Corp.’s first true inroad into the for-profit education market.
If News Corp. does make a serious play on the education front, it wouldn't be the only media company to do so. The Washington Post Co. is dependent on its ownership of Kaplan.