Wednesday, January 25, 2017 | 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM
The past 30 years have seen dozens of otherwise successful investors try to improve education through the application of market principles. They have funneled billions of dollars into alternative schools, online education and textbook publishing, and they have, with surprising regularity, lost their shirts.
In Class Clowns, professor and investment banker Jonathan A. Knee dissects what drives investors’ efforts to improve education and why they consistently fail. Knee takes readers inside four spectacular financial failures in education: Rupert Murdoch’s billion-dollar effort to reshape elementary education through technology; the unhappy investors—including hedge fund titan John Paulson—who lost billions in textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin; the abandonment of Knowledge Universe, Michael Milken's 20-year mission to revolutionize the global education industry; and a look at Chris Whittle, founder of EdisonLearning and a pioneer of large-scale transformational educational ventures, who continues to attract investment despite decades of financial and operational disappointment.
Knee asks: What makes a good education business? By contrasting rare successes, he finds a dozen broad lessons at the heart of these cautionary case studies.
About the author
Jonathan A. Knee is a professor of professional practice and co-director of the media and technology program at Columbia Business School.