Dana Goldstein, in this piece for The Nation
, reveals how scrutiny of News Corp is also focusing on Murdoch's and Joel Klein's educational ambitions. In New York City itself, The Working Families Party, Common Cause/New York, and New York City Public School Parents are using the hacking scandal to call attention to what they see as a series of sweetheart deals between New York and News Corp.
Even more interesting is the suspicion that Murdoch has been funding Michelle Rhee’s “Students First”
, an organisation whose mission “is to build a national movement to defend the interests of children in public education and pursue transformative reform, so that America has the best education system in the world.” This organisation was formed to raise $1 billion to advocate for the changes she believes in. She has been advising some of the nation's most conservative governors to fight the teachers' unions and rely on standardized tests to fire or reward teachers.
Michelle Rhee is as controversial a figure as Joel Klein. The corporate education reform movement in America has had no more visible star than Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools. After she left office last autumn, her credibility has been directly challenged by revelations of possible widespread test fraud in the D.C. schools while she was in charge. An article in USA Today revealed that more than half the public schools in D.C. were found to have an unusual number of erasures on standardized tests of reading and maths.
Michael Gove was impressed enough with her credentials, despite the controversy surrounding her, to single her out, along with Joel Klein and Arne Duncan, in his National College Annual Conference Speech
last month and his policy adviser Sam Freedman was sympathetic to what she and Klein were apparently “up against” as reported here
Gove shares the ideology of these American school reformers and is implementing their controversial policies into our schools. Unfortunately, Murdoch has his eye on the American schools market and has hired Joel Klein to oversee this but News Corp, Klein and the British government are intertwined in the still developing scandal which exploded with revelations of wide-spread phone hacking.
Gove’s apparent championing of Michelle Rhee was perhaps ill advised and dubious to begin with but if she is now unwilling to confirm or deny the Murdoch money, then not only might she be in danger of being further discredited by her detractors but Gove and our present government have another Murdoch-rooted error of judgment to contend with.