News Corp’s Joel Klein: Education Is A State-Run Monopoly That’s Very Hard To Disrupt

At our TechCrunch Disrupt conference today, Joel Klein, the former Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education who now runs News Corp.’s education division, talked about some of the difficulties startups face in disrupting education. Our own Gregory Ferenstein asked Klein about why he thought that the education space isn’t being disrupted by the Internet as quickly as other markets. In Klein’s view, it’s the fact that education is still, for the most part, a “state-run monopoly” that resists change as much as possible.

Despite this assessment, Klein still said that he is more enthusiastic about online education than ever before. In his view, now is the time for those who are developing education apps to engage. “Nothing comes easy in K-12,” though, he noted. There is, after all, very little incentive for the incumbents in this space to change.

In Klein’s opinion, a few things are changing in education in general that are creating a more favorable environment for online education. Most importantly, in his view, the advent of common cores standards, as well as a stronger focus on assessment is creating many opportunities for developers.

Analytics and assessment, is seems, is really what Klein is focusing on. The biggest mistake we’ve made so far, he thinks, is that we have focused so much on technology but not enough on assessment. Different kids, after all, learn in different ways and at different speeds. But with enough analytics, we should be able to better personalize the education experience.