Last month, as the News Corp. phone hacking scandal spread, reporters started looking into Rupert Murdoch’s connections to education “reform.” After all, former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein was one of Murdoch’s top advisers and News Corp. had been out looking for a profit in selling technology to public schools.
While Klein had gone from the New York City schools to cashing in at News Corp, his Washington, D.C. counterpart, former chancellor Michelle Rhee, was starting up StudentsFirst, an advocacy organization raising piles of money to spread her anti-union, pro-unproven evaluation standards agenda around the country. Rhee, too, was known to have ties to Murdoch, but when asked last month if he had been a StudentsFirst donor, it took two days for a spokesperson to refuse to confirm or deny.
Consider it confirmed:
That’s an excerpt from Class Warfare, a book by Steven Brill. Dana Goldstein writes that, in a pair of influential articles written in 2009 and 2010, Brill’s:
framing of the education debate, borrowed from reformers like Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee—teachers unions vs. poor kids—infiltrated the popular consciousness more deeply than it had before, presaging the September 2010 release of the pro–charter school, anti–teachers union documentary Waiting for Superman.
According to Goldstein, Brill’s Class Warfare reflects a somewhat more nuanced take on education than those earlier articles; however, as a Rhee ally, he was certainly in a position to reliably report that Murdoch had been a StudentsFirst donor. So, add Murdoch to the list of Rhee’s supporters these days, along with John Kasich, Rick Scott, Chris Christie and a host of other Republican governors.