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From Tabloids to Tablets: News Corp Spends Big on LA School Board Race, Sets Sights on Public Education "Market"

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- 1917 days ago -
A subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp -- parent company of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal -- has spent a whopping $250,000 on the Los Angeles school board race, just as the corporation focuses on making money off of public education.

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JL A (281)
Wednesday March 20, 2013, 2:50 pm
PR Watch
Published on PR Watch (

From Tabloids to Tablets: News Corp Spends Big on LA School Board Race, Sets Sights on Public Education "Market"
by Brendan Fischer [1] — March 11, 2013 - 8:23am
Projects: ALEC Exposed [2]

A subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp -- parent company of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal -- has spent a whopping $250,000 on the Los Angeles school board race, just as the corporation focuses on making money off of public education. News Corp and its for-profit education subsidiaries are also members of the American Legislative Exchange Council [4] (ALEC), and the education initiatives promoted by News Corp's preferred candidates track the ALEC agenda.

Murdoch has called [5] the for-profit K-12 education industry "a $500 billion sector in the US alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed" -- and his News Corp is investing big to capture that market. In 2010, News Corp acquired Wireless Generation, a for-profit online education, software, and testing corporation, for $360 million. Its latest venture [6] is a digital K-12 curricula to be sold and taught on a specialized "Amplify Tablet" that runs on the Android platform.

The success of these education initiatives, though, will depend on school districts agreeing to fork over millions to News Corp: each basic Amplify Tablet costs [7] $299, plus a mandatory $99/year subscription. If a school district like Los Angeles were to buy Amplify Tablets for just half of their 662,140 students, News Corp could make nearly $99 million, plus about $33 million in subscription fees each year after that. Prices climb higher for the Amplify Tablet Plus model.

So it is a small investment for a News Corp subsidiary to spend [8] $250,000 backing candidates in the LA School Board race. The head of its "Amplify" education division, former NYC Education Chancellor Joel Klein, chipped in another $50,000.
News Corp Backing "Coalition for School Reform," Which Tracks ALEC Agenda

The beneficiary of News Corp's largesse is the "Coalition for School Reform," a Political Action Committee formed to help elect school board members who will support superintendent John Deasy's reforms -- such as charter schools, teacher evaluations based on student test scores, and "parent trigger" laws.

According to Education Week [9], News Corp's Wireless Generation "already has a big contract" with the LA Unified School District for student assessment, and presumably has more to gain with a school board devoted to more testing.

Each of Deasy's initiatives also track the for-profit education agenda advanced by ALEC. ALEC's education agenda encompasses a more than 20-year effort to privatize public education through an ever-expanding network of private charter schools or for-profit internet school corporations. ALEC bills also allow public and for-profit schools to loosen standards for teachers and administrators and escape the protections of collective bargaining agreements.

Both Wireless Generation and News Corp are members of the ALEC Education Task Force. Deasy was previously Deputy Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's education program, and the Gates Foundation gave ALEC a $376,000 grant in December 2011 to push its teacher evaluation initiatives. (Gates announced [10] in April 2012 it has no plans to fund ALEC again, but its $376,000 grant runs through October 2013).
Deasy, ALEC, and News Corp Support Parent Trigger

Among other initiatives, ALEC has also been pushing the "Parent Trigger" laws [11] that allow parents at any persistently failing school -- with "failing" defined by standardized test results -- to restructure the school either by turning it into a privately-managed charter operation, or firing the principal, or firing half the teachers. Deasy has voiced support for the Parent Trigger, which is backed by the charter school industry.

First passed in California, the ALEC Education Task Force voted to approve the "Parent Trigger Act" in December 2010, and the idea quickly spread. According to CMD's analysis, ALEC members have since introduced or cosponsored various versions of the bill in 17 states.

The controversial 2012 film "Won't Back Down" [12] glorified the Parent Trigger laws, but the reality is quite different: petition drives have been organized by charter school operators that stood to profit from restructuring, and they have been accused of misleading parents about the true goal of the petition effort.

News Corp distributed the "Won't Back Down" film, and it was produced by Walden Media, owned by billionaire investor Philip Anschutz. Anschutz participates in the Koch brothers' secretive political strategy summits and funds David Koch's Americans for Prosperity group, and bankrolls ALEC and ALEC member groups. In 2010, the Anschutz Foundation gave [13] ALEC $10,000 and Anschutz' Union Pacific firm was an ALEC sponsor [14] the following year. The Foundation also funded [13] three ALEC members who sat on the ALEC Education Task Force which approved the Parent Trigger Proposal: The Independence Institute, Center for Education Reform, and Pacific Research Institute.

Phillip Anschutz also gave [9] $100,000 to the Coalition for School Reform in the LA school board race.

Parent Trigger laws were hatched by a group called Parents Revolution, which received funding from groups supporting education privatization and charter school expansion, like [15] the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation. The Coalition for School Reform received a $250,000 donation from Eli Broad and a $340,000 contribution from the California Charter Schools Association, which is funded by the Walton Family Foundation and has a Walton as its vice-chair.

Other major donors to the Coalition included New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ($1 million) and Michelle Rhee's Students First! ($250,000).
Two Out of Three Candidates Advance; What's Next?

In the March 5 primary [16], one of the three candidates supported by the Coalition for School Reform won and another will participate in a run-off election in May. In the third race (as Occidental College Professor Peter Dreier describes [17]), the Coalition-backed candidate narrowly lost, despite her campaign and its backers spending nearly twice as much [17] as the incumbent.

News Corp may be hoping that those candidates who are elected will be receptive to its new Amplify Tablet. But it will almost certainly find a willing audience among ALEC, the Gates Foundation, and other "reformers" who have prioritized online learning in recent years.

Even though there is limited evidence that technology alone can fix education, others are also concerned about Amplify's products given the phone-hacking scandal that has plagued News Corp since 2011. "I'm very concerned about them tracking children or using their data," Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, told the New York Times. "They've proven not to be very trustworthy on that."

Harriet Rowan contributed to this article.
Center for Media and Democracy • 520 University Avenue, Suite 260 • Madison, Wisconsin 53703
Phone: 608-260-9713 • Fax: 608-260-9714
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John B (185)
Wednesday March 20, 2013, 6:57 pm
Thanks J.L. for the post. Murdock and his empire, along with ALEC, need to kept away from our education system at all costs. Read and noted.

JL A (281)
Wednesday March 20, 2013, 6:59 pm
You are welcome John and I agree wholeheartedly. You cannot currently send a star to John because you have done so within the last day.

cathie S (154)
Wednesday March 20, 2013, 9:42 pm

JL A (281)
Wednesday March 20, 2013, 9:58 pm
You are welcome Cat.

Past Member (0)
Thursday March 21, 2013, 1:03 am
Noted, thanks.

Lynn D (0)
Thursday March 21, 2013, 2:50 am
I guess it's their money to waste as they see fit but I would expect there's better places it could have been spent!

Past Member (0)
Thursday March 21, 2013, 8:12 am
Not Rupert Murdoch His whole empire is crooked and sly


. (0)
Thursday March 21, 2013, 9:55 am

Past Member (0)
Thursday March 21, 2013, 12:54 pm
The further 'dumbing down' of America

Birgit W (160)
Thursday March 21, 2013, 4:15 pm

JL A (281)
Thursday March 21, 2013, 4:24 pm
You are welcome Natalie and Carol.

Lois Jordan (63)
Thursday March 21, 2013, 4:44 pm
Noted. Money buys power, which makes more buy more power to make more buy more power....But, truth speaks to power, and there is power in numbers; so let's get moving!

JL A (281)
Thursday March 21, 2013, 6:18 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Lois because you have done so within the last day

Lynn Squance (235)
Monday March 25, 2013, 11:53 pm
Murdoch, Koch, ALEC --- all names to live in infamy! Between this and the Kochs wanting to buy the Tribune properties like the LA Times, control of information will be tight and slanted to the point of lying down. I read that if you want to control people, to influence them, control the media.

This is a problem not just for the uS, but the entire globe. Power and greed!

JL A (281)
Tuesday March 26, 2013, 8:08 am
You cannot currently send a star to Lynn because you have done so within the last day.

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Thursday July 17, 2014, 8:02 am
OMG! Private business & corporations via the Gates Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and the Broad Foundation - "a powerful triumvirate" - are in the process of taking over US education & it's gone all the way up to the Federal Government, with the Obama administration's Secretary of Education Arne Duncan!

I have just discovered this horrendous state of affairs thanks to one word in an article Daily Kos e-mailed me just the other day, "New Poll: Karen Lewis Beats Rahm By NINE POINTS". The word was 'Boardie,' and it was used in this sentence - Rahm's "most perfidious crime of hiring a Broadie to destroy public education in Chicago by closing schools, firing teachers and replacing them with SCABS with five weeks of "training", and selling the lot off to the lowest bidder..." & that 'Broadie' was a link that has opened up a Pandora's Box of horror for me! Daily Kos' 'Broadie' link

I wanted to check right away to see if this corporate take-over of public schools has reached the C2NN & that's how I've come upon your post here, JL.

Living away in France (& despite my efforts to keep up with international current affairs), this horrendous situation had just gone under my radar until now!
I'm surprised there aren't more articles & petitions on C2 - I'm upset to realize that a majority or at least a good portion of C2 members aren't UP IN ARMS over this.

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Thursday July 17, 2014, 8:03 am
In any event, for you and anyone (and everyone) else interested in discovering what's been going on & what's happening at the moment, The Progressive Magazine has created a WHOLE SITE dedicated to the battle for public education : it's called 'The Progressive Investigates The Public School Shakedown', with the goal of "revving up the movement to save our public schools. On this site, we are pulling together education experts, activists, bloggers, and concerned citizens around the country."

There are a lot of 'don't miss' articles, but I'll just mention "The Green Berets of Excellence" (May 2, 2014), in which a teacher describes a situation in his school that I found pretty scary; and I came across an impressive diagram (with thumbnail photos of the top actors) that shows the nightmare of $$ links between these super-rich financial groups, shoot-off groups, and the politicians & elected officials on the take & pushing their program forward, behind the shakedown in Wisconsin, which apparently was quite a battleground, & then, scrolling down, "The Big Three Foundations Behind Privatization": just click the heading "Meet the Bullies" (nice title!).

That latter diagram is also posted at the end of the June 24, 2014 article, "Funding 'Education Reform': The Big Three Foundations" That Bill&Melissa Gates Foundation is doing a great deal of harm in areas I didn't even suspect! Billions of dollars provide all the clout they need to reshape our society the way they want it! And what about democracy??? Zilch! I am really disgusted! (but not surprised to find the thumbnail head of Jeb Bush among the lot!)

Under the heading 'Teach for America TRUTH SQUAD', you'll find worthwhile offerings, too.
There is also a section devoted to legislation throughout the US (heading: Legislation Map), with the "Public School Shakedown interactive map, which gives up-to-date information on the status of private school choice for every state. .."

More recent news articles that can be accessed from the home page include:
--> "NEA Repudiates Arne Duncan, Demands America Pay Closer Attention"
July 16, 2014 - It shouldn’t really be surprising that the delegates at the National Education Association’s recent convention passed a resolution calling on U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to resign. ...

--> "Delegates at AFT’s Convention Denounce Arne Duncan"
July 16, 2014 - In the second such action in two weeks, yesterday the delegates of a national teachers union at its national convention passed a resolution repudiating U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.


'Parents Across America', which Daily Kos linked to, seem to have run out of steam, or else have come up against too much indifference, because when I clicked their 'Sign our petitions' section (raring to go!), I found 2 petitions from ...2010 !!! Nothing more recent. This is really a crying shame, because this is one issue that people ought to be mobilizing for & massively. (See more at:

I hope that you'll post on this issue more, JL. You succeed in getting the notes, the exposure & the signatures that can make a difference.

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Thursday July 17, 2014, 8:06 am
In fact, I'd noted this post of yours way back when & then failed to come back & read it!
Mea culpa
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