New York City schools and Wireless Generation (owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.) are forming close alliances.
According to WNYC, the New York Department of Education "plans to award a no-bid contract for building a data system to the same company that built New York City's ARIS system for tracking student achievement."
The Brooklyn-based Wireless Generation will receive almost $27 million for its work on the project. In a document given to the state comptroller's office, education department officials in Albany explained why it wanted to give the project to Wireless Generation without considering other bids. They stated that the cost of using Wireless Generation is reasonable, that it had experience in New York City, and that the state only has four years to build the new data system.
Though former Chancellor Klein is now a vice president for educational technology at News Corp, and was involved in the ARIS project for New York City, Wireless Generation insists he had "nothing to do with" the new state contract.
Company spokesman Zach Silverstein says Wireless told the state it was interested in the contract back in June of 2009, a year and a half before Klein joined News Corp. The state wanted to build a system for tracking children from kindergarten through the end of high school as part of its Race to the Top application. It eventually won the $700 million federal grant.
And yesterday, News Corp. announced its hiring of two public-school officials to helm its education division, including Kristen Kane, the former COO of the New York DOE, who will take over as the COO of the New Corp. unit.
I spoke with Christopher Rush, the co-founder, Chief Product Officer School of One yesterday about plans for the program's growth possibly outside New York City, and will report on that in the coming days.