From Joel Klein: Welcome to Amplify

When you work to improve education, it’s important to never lose the sense of outrage—and the commitment to opportunity—that led you to fight the good fight in the first place.

Even after eight years on the front lines working to improve the nation’s largest school district, I remain appalled by America’s educational performance. Our high-school graduation rate hovers just over 70 percent. Fewer than 40 percent of the students who graduate from high school are ready for college. Only a third of eighth-grade students are proficient in math, science, or reading. All this while spending on education continues to soar.

Amplify will engage students to discover new ideas and master core competencies, enable teachers to focus on instruction rather than on management, and allow parents to extend learning beyond the school day.

In an age of global economic competition, these realities are a recipe for disaster—for a lower standard of living for America’s children. We simply have to do better.

Improving our complex school system can seem daunting—after all, there are so many aspects involved, from funding to standards to curriculum design, not to mention the extra challenges facing children in poverty. So far, technology has not provided any real solutions to any—let alone all—of these challenges. Certainly, information technologies have helped schools run faster and cheaper, but instructional technologies have not really helped to make teaching richer and learning deeper. And, in most cases, instructional technologies have been designed to deliver old materials in digital form rather than enable whole new approaches, and they’ve been deployed by being thrown in the back of the classroom rather than integrated into the schoolwork.

But, instructional technologies have meteoric potential if we demand that they are designed and deployed correctly. At the end of the day, progress really turns on three key things: best-in-class content and curriculum that is as rich as it is rigorous; information and insight to tailor that content and curriculum to individual needs, in real-time; and, access to that content and curriculum as well as other teaching and learning opportunities anywhere, anytime.

With that vision, I am very pleased to introduce you to Amplify: a new business dedicated to reimagining K-12 education by creating digital products and services that empower teachers, students and parents in new ways. Amplify will engage students to discover new ideas and master core competencies, enable teachers to focus on instruction rather than on management, and allow parents to extend learning beyond the school day.

So, what makes Amplify different? Amplify is a portfolio of products, being built by Wireless Generation together with the best telecommunications, hardware, media, and curriculum partners in the business. We have recruited some of the world’s most respected educators, technologists, and creative professionals to spearhead this work. We are designing every product on the basis of evidence gained from years of research and practice, and then developed for 21st century technologies that will advance the timeless, rigorous fundamentals of teaching and learning. Our aim is to build out an indispensable and measurably effective set of offerings that will create unbridled enthusiasm among teachers and students. If we do this right, it will help level the playing field by making sure all students have the chance to succeed. That’s the path to a prosperous economy and a healthy democracy.

I know that some are skeptical that a private company can bring needed change to public education. But if we are going to see the kind of transformation that our teachers, students and parents deserve, I believe strongly that there is a much-needed role for private sector partners and providers to help place the big bets. The private sector should not drive teaching and learning innovations, but private-sector investment and involvement can (and should) accelerate such innovations in partnership with experts and educators in the field. There is no one sector-specific solution here. This is going to take a collective effort by the best in class across private, public, and philanthropic sectors.

But enough from me for now. I hope you’ll want to learn more about what we’re doing and contribute to our collective thinking at www.amplify.com, a new platform for meaningful commentary and conversation in the evolving digital education space—where together we can wrestle with important ideas, showcase useful innovations, and document measurable results.

Our team looks forward to working with everyone in the education and technology communities as Amplify’s story unfolds, and I hope you’ll join us on the journey.