Jonathan Knee is one of the most versatile people on Wall Street. An M&A banker at Evercore Partners Inc., he also helps run the media program at Columbia Business School, where he has taught since 2001. In his spare time he writes books, most recently Class Clowns: How the Smartest Investors Lost Billions in Education, issued in November by Columbia Business School Publishing. The possibility of transforming America's education system and the massive amount of money poured into that system - $1.3 trillion last year, about a tenth of that in the for-profit segment - have lured some very gifted businesspeople to invest in what have often turned out to be spectacular failures. Knee offers four case studies illustrating the theme and concludes with a few case studies of more successful investors in education, who tend to have more focus and a more defensible product niche.
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