Home Back Issues February 2011 Knowledge Universe reaches $1.6 billion in revenue

Knowledge Universe reaches $1.6 billion in revenue

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Articles - February 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
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Knowledge Universe reaches $1.6 billion in revenue
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STORY BY LINDA BAKER // PHOTOS BY LEAH NASH

On the second floor of a KinderCare center in downtown Portland, eight preschoolers are coloring pictures of Chinese characters while listening to their teacher speak in Mandarin. On the other side of the room, which is decorated with parasols and Chinese lanterns, another group is interacting with a different teacher — who is speaking in English. Eventually the groups will switch, with the entire class spending half the day learning in Chinese, the other half in English.

Now in its third year, the Mandarin immersion program got its start when Knowledge Universe, KinderCare’s parent company, came across a model program while scouting acquisitions in Singapore. “We thought this was a really innovative and important way to deliver dual language, which is something the United States is particularly remiss in,” says Elanna Yalow, executive vice president at Knowledge Universe. “It is much easier to develop second-language competency at a young age,” Yalow says. “So we brought that program over and implemented it in several locations.”

KinderCare’s Mandarin immersion program is a window on the world of Knowledge Universe, a global education services conglomerate that has its U.S. headquarters in Portland. The company, which employs 40,000 people on three continents, is the largest single private provider of early childhood education services in the country. It also has the biggest market share in the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Singapore, where the company’s global headquarters are located.

 

0211_Knowledge_01
Felicia Thornton is Knowledge Universe's Portland-based CEO for U.S. operations. KU is the leading player in a market expected to be worth $39 billion by 2015.

Founded by former junk bond king Michael Milken and his brother, Lowell Milken, in 1996, Knowledge Universe, which earned $1.6 billion in revenue last year, targets early childhood learning programs. But the company also oversees or has a stake in business units in K-12, online and post-secondary education. “We are cradle to as-long-as you-are-a-lifelong-learner,” says Felicia Thornton, Knowledge Universe’s Portland-based chief executive officer for U.S. operations. Like the Mandarin program, the broader corporate mission is based on global best practices, Thornton says.

“When you look at Singapore, you realize they don’t differentiate early childhood from K-12 or university,” says Thornton. “They look at that entire continuum as critically important.” Singapore’s growth rate is 20%, she adds. “It’s not by natural resources, not by anything other than investment in human capital. It’s just staggering.”

Knowledge Universe isn’t alone in touting the benefits of high-quality education, especially early childhood education, as the key to a nation’s economic success. As concerns about U.S. educational performance and lack of competitiveness mount, state and national leaders — from Kitzhaber to Obama — are calling for universal preschool as a centerpiece of education reform. These initiatives would build on existing state-funded preschool programs, which already serve more than 1 million 3- to 4-year-olds around the country.

In this environment, private sector innovation is only one part of the company’s business. One quarter of the 200,000 children Knowledge Universe serves in the U.S. receive a child care subsidy for low-income families, a reflection of the changing nature of for-profit care in this country, and the public-private partnerships that may become the signature of early childhood education initiatives.

Such alliances are vulnerable to the recession. They also spotlight the role of the for-profit sector, not always a welcome participant in the K-12 arena, in shaping the public preschool agenda. But with its global footprint, lofty rhetoric and socioeconomically diverse client base, KU is plowing ahead, carving out a niche in a market that by 2015 is expected to exceed $39 billion a year, according to Global Industry Analysts.



 

Comments   

 
knowledge universe
+40 #1 RE: Knowledge Universe reaches $1.6 billion in revenueknowledge universe 2012-01-01 17:55:57
I it great that this company brags about all their success, however their employees, at least the ones who work with the children, are treated horribly. Ask one of these teachers the last time they got a raise, a decent raise. In the years I have known people who work this company, they have not even received cost of living raise when, the tuition goes up every year!! Ask them how much stress is put on them and how little they are shown appreciation. These people who claim to be working with over 1 million children, and they do not even know how to show appreciation in front of these children, what is that teaching to the future generations!!! Overall ask how LITTLE this company really cares about CHILDREN and how MUCH they care about MONEY!! it is actually very sad.
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JG
+32 #2 worthy wageJG 2012-02-19 14:04:58
after googling the average salary of a kindercare teacher I was shocked that my child's primary care giver and educator was not being compensated in a manner that is proportionate to the companies bottom line, give your employees a worthy living wage
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Melisa Rios
0 #3 Teacher 1Melisa Rios 2012-05-04 00:49:07
I have sent a request for HR assistance from KU Corporate, KLC HR and KLC Licensing and JEN, KLC's District Manager assigned to KLC 5225, Arlington TX., and am awaiting response. I was falsely accused of child negligence by my Center Director & Assistant Director. I am not guilty of the charges made against me, and I am requesting a full investigation of Center 5225. I will continue to work at clearing my name for I believe that I have been wrongfully terminated . I am currently seeking Legal representation regarding this matter. Melisa Rios
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insider
+18 #4 truth about teachers wagesinsider 2012-05-19 03:32:57
The company touts its focus on education and enriching lives but the reality is that they may well be in the commodity management business. It is all about the bottom line of the centers.Teacher s have no contracts and are paid hourly wages below what many make at the burger joint. Even center directors are paid far below a teacher in a public school. Cost controls are rampant in everything, from food, to labor hours to center investments to meet profit goals. I was appalled to see the profit margins they make.
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Melisa Rios-Leonard
-1 #5 Subsequent for Resolution- Wrongful TerminationMelisa Rios-Leonard 2012-05-29 22:24:56
..continuation: i am still awaiting resolution to a situation that i have expressed concern on more than one occasion. i have notified the proper personnel over and over again, but have not yet received a correction to a most unfortunate situation: the center 301223(TX) created a series of unfounded and unclaimed charges to remove me from my workplace. their is no evidence or witness' to the charges other than the management who concocted the outrageous claims to terminate my employment. i need the corporate office to contact me asap.
*please consider this matter to be of importance, as i do.

regards,
melisa rios
682)472-0204
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Guest
-2 #6 RE: Knowledge Universe reaches $1.6 billion in revenueGuest 2012-07-01 20:07:50
I believe this says it all "Founded by former Junk Bond King Michael Milken and his brother, Lowell Milken"
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Guest
+5 #7 Treated poorlyGuest 2012-07-05 16:58:06
I had worked for KinderCare for the last 10 years and was recently terminated for bogus reasons. The teachers and CD's and AD's are treated poorly and have not received a raise in 5 years. How can they expect to retain quality teachers and staff if they aren't going to pay them?? I have 2 degrees in education and CD's that were hired at other centers after me were making more money. There is something wrong with that!!!
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Guest
0 #8 visitorGuest 2012-07-12 07:21:32
I feel those people listed in the above article need to leave the west coast and try their research in middle america and the great lakes region. I think they will be shocked with their results. LOL
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Guest
+4 #9 Questionable CompanyGuest 2012-07-17 01:21:25
I worked for the old Knowledge Learning Corp at a Kindercare and Knowledge Beginnings. I was fired from Kindercare because while I was attending to a child with a head injury another child left the room. Mind you there was another teacher in attendance. Fortunately nothing serious occurred to the children and while I was filling out a report form I was asked to leave. I was called and came back, was fired with no reprimands to anyone else who shared equal responsibility for the class (my report form mysteriously disappeared). I had gone to this center because at Knowledge Beginnings I was expected to take care of it's psych and addict clients/employe es (haven't they heard of the police?)and darn near died from their toxicity. I was on unemployment for 8 months before I could get another job and years later still have 0 respect for this company. Oddly enough if you check it's background it has reorganized multiple times (I wonder why). I sincerely hope that for all of those whose careers have been adversely affected that they are able to clear their names and continue in this otherwise, underpaid, overworked but wonderful field. And be assured that this company does well only because they are convenient, not because they are credible.
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Guest
0 #10 Wrongful Termination (Termination without Justifiable Cause)Guest 2012-07-22 03:17:15
i wanted to let the KU bloggers know where i am mishap wise; i am not allowed to return to any KU affiliated center, my request for the 'reason for termination' to be changed is disagreeable on their part? i have done my best to plead my case in the 64 days since my involuntary dismissal. still no actual evidence existed/exists to fire me, and yet as it turns out, shortly thereafter, a decision to re-structure the center was made. perhaps, partly due to a; poorly handled leadership team, mishandling of parental data, finances, lack of supervision with respect to children and teachers, amongst other things? hr had once asked "what it was that i was trying to achieve"? i then realized that i was pleading my case with carefree individuals that lacked empathy. a character trait desperately useful in this line of work. i have done well at humbly presenting my wishes, so i refuse to believe that i could again be misunderstood. while still maintaining a mind-set of an employee on duty for a while; i sought only what an employer would come to expect from an employee; equality and respect and nothing more. it has been 64 days without work now, a drop in the bucket for KU, but an unnecessary, and terribly worrisome time for me. in that time, i have received calls from various legal entities representing former employees from various Kinder Care Learning Centers; unlawful terminations occurring rampant, which i found to be rather fascinating, as they must have read my blogs as well? some of the issues were relative and others not so much. i decided to discontinue legal counseling, as it deemed unnecessary, and i truly believe that all will be made right in time. i do miss the children and i hear quite often that they as well reciprocate. : ]

regards, MR

... "Knowledge Learning Center a/k/ a Knowledge Universe is plowing ahead, carving out a niche in a market that by 2015 is expected to exceed $39 billion a year, according to Global Industry Analysts".
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Guest
+10 #11 corruptionGuest 2012-08-30 00:17:31
This company is corrupt globally. The Milkens have just figured out how to milke government funds, tax agencies and the non discerning public a different way.
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Guest
+1 #12 crazy through outGuest 2012-09-24 21:11:26
If it makes anyone feel better. The internal organization is rampant with people feeding off the corporation with heavy salaries and taking all they can but doing very little. In the main IT org the (mal adjusted crazy) supervisor was using a private cell phone to take all user calls. The upper management could not tell what is going on so he controls and bypasses the normal documentation that would allow visibility as to what he and staff are doing ( which is not much good), so he stays on and is horrible to all who could do some good but have to work with him. Not outwardly nasty but a bully behind the scene and gets those who do not do everything to keep him in total control, fired. His staff works like zombies.
There are about 3 to 4 times more staff than normally needed for all the IT systems they have. It is sad that these people userp all the money in salaries, lay back in their chairs all day and get extremely little done while the teachers aren't paid.
The whole internal operations of the company is out of control and taking advantage salary wise. IT is not just the Milkins taking it all. They would save a lot by getting rid of the majority of the IT group and getting some people that really want to work for their pay. Certainly has not been the case.
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Guest
-1 #13 former Center DirectorGuest 2012-12-04 17:46:37
To Guest. Can you give me the name(s) of the legal representation? I need someone for wrongful termination. The stuff I went through at this place is unbelievable and no one cares. I am now unemployed and suffering because of their careless and uncaring way that they terminated me. I followed a direct order, then was let go for the consequences of that. Please help.
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Guest
-3 #14 customer service orientedGuest 2013-02-01 19:41:36
I've never been a fan of FORMER employees who complain and talk about legal actions and unfair treatment posted on the former company in this manner. If it was legitimate they would have found an attorney to represent them through more professional means. When people handle things inappropriately it also makes me think that the company did the right thing in termination or disciplining an employee because they likely were inappropriate professionally as well while they were employed.

From a parent and customer standpoint - I am fully supportive of any educational institution that demands superior care and education for my child and the elimination of mediocrity. Mediocrity is what is killing our educational system today while passing on the responsibility and blame to the parent - who pays for their children to be monitored and educated in a learning environment.
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Guest
-1 #15 curiousGuest 2013-02-08 23:09:00
Knowing that pedophiles are superb at hiding their craft (they actually spend more time, sometimes, years, creating a perfect image than they do grooming victims, often by befriending parents, serving in the community, etc.), I am curious; what kinds of protections are really in place for these children, besides background checks. If they are ever brought in for questioning because a parent reports something suspicious, how transparent would that event be? It MIGHT be safer than taking a child to a private sitter, but pedophiles are always drawn to numbers of children and ease of access.
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Guest
+3 #16 HorribleGuest 2013-02-09 18:48:05
Kindercare is the WalMart of preschool. Terrible pay, terrible benefits and terrible education. I am a former employee and was horrified at the retail influenced "education." I now work at a respectable preschool that has a long waiting list to get in. I'm sure there are some great teachers at Kindercare, however they are being managed by greedy hungry corporate powers. Lets just say they have a huge legal department so that they can keep their billions. I could no longer morally support the greed. We were not selling T-shirts, we were caring for precious children. In this case, you don't get what you pay for. Don't take your children to Kindercare. There are plenty of respectable preschools out there.
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Guest
+4 #17 Distance from everyoneGuest 2013-02-15 17:53:27
As a former employee I can tell you the company is ran by a bunch of bankers. Because of this, there is no connection between the decision makers and the people doing the actual work nor have they put in any effort to do so. There wallets get fatter while those doing the work get smaller.
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Guest
+4 #18 unjustly termination based on lies by director and district managerGuest 2013-03-20 07:23:03
Quoting Melisa Rios:
I have sent a request for HR assistance from KU Corporate, KLC HR and KLC Licensing and JEN, KLC's District Manager assigned to KLC 5225, Arlington TX., and am awaiting response. I was falsely accused of child negligence by my Center Director & Assistant Director. I am not guilty of the charges made against me, and I am requesting a full investigation of Center 5225. I will continue to work at clearing my name for I believe that I have been wrongfully terminated . I am currently seeking Legal representation regarding this matter. Melisa Rios

Did you get any answers? just recently in same situation after working at KC for 8 years!
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Guest
+2 #19 KinderCare SUCKSGuest 2013-11-14 00:12:38
I currently work at a KinderCare and it's ridiculous. I was offered 4 childcare jobs when I moved back to the area and I'll admit I was swooned in my KinderCare interview by "competitive pay" and "wage increases" and "amazing benefits". This was all a lie. They treat their employees TERRIBLE! I have worked there 6 weeks now and have never worked a 40 hour week. I come into work at 730am and they make me take my "lunch" break at 9am because they have no where to put me for that hour until they have me cover breaks for other teachers. They make me clean closets and empty classrooms when they have no where else to put me and they always cut me early. They cut everyone early in order to save hours and none of the teachers have received more than a 90 cent raise even after completing higher certifications. It's a joke. The only thing that keeps me there is the precious children because I love getting to work with them everyday.
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Guest
0 #20 Center DirectorGuest 2014-07-26 08:47:43
Ouch, reading all of these comments makes me sad. No large company is perfect, but my little center is. They allow me the space to hire great teachers and provide outstanding curriculum to educate the beautiful children in my care. Sorry there are so many disgruntled employees. I don't feel that way.
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Guest
0 #21 same happened hereGuest 2014-07-26 20:47:01
same thing happened to me... after 8 yrs of working there (san diego), lies from the new director who was the district manager´s friend!!! good luck!
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