Joel Klein: A Lesson In Media Restructuring…Sort Of

November 9, 2010 § 1 Comment

Image: Daily News

Imagine my surprise when I received this text alert from the NYTimes today at 4:29 p.m.:

“Joel L. Klein, New York City Schools Chancellor, Will Step Down, Officials Say

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has banked his current third term on an education overhaul and worked closely with Klein to secure mayoral control of the massive City school system.

Klein, who has served as chancellor for eight years, is most well known for putting an end to “rubber rooms,” which were seen as a costly band-aid for reprimanding teachers, as well as ending “social promotion,” while also controversially pushing for charter schools, testing, and his disdain for teacher unions.

So why ditch out now in the middle of Bloomberg’s term?

The Los Angeles Times reports that Klein is leaving his close partnership with New York’s most powerful billionaire politician (calculated net worth by Forbes: $18 billion) for another politically savvy New York billionaire with an Aussie flavor.

That’s right folks, Mr. Klein will be playing for Rupert Murdoch’s team now (Forbes net worth calculated at $6 billion) as executive VP of the Office of the Chairman of News Corp–a newly created post.

What’s an education bureaucrat to do in a mega media corporation like News Corp.?

One only needs to look at the Washington Post Co., which receives over half of its profits from Kaplan, the popular testing and test prep company.

In a statement, Murdoch commented on the decision to appoint Klein:

“His record of achievement leading one of the country’s toughest school systems has given him a unique perspective that will be particularly important as we look into a sector that has long been in need of innovation.”

News Corp. isn’t the only company to jump on the potentially lucrative education bandwagon. The New York Times public editor, Arthur Brisbane, recently elucidated on the Time’s Education Network in one of his Sunday columns.

As failing media companies look into creating alternate revenue streams, restructuring almost seems inevitable. The recent clash between Cablevision and Fox boiled down to News Corp’s heightened demands for retransmission fees and even the popular NYTimes.com is priming itself for a paywall in the near future.

The cherry on the media-education sundae?

Just ask Klein’s replacement, Cathleen Black, aka. Chairwoman of Hearst Magazines.

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