Cashing in on Kids

Christie-Murdoch relationship examined

Governor Chris Christie's relationship with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has made headlines in newspapers across New Jersey, but the International Business Times is shining a light on the cozy relationship between Christie and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

Known primarily as a news and entertainment company, News Corp also has a large education subsidiary called Amplify.

IBT's Michael Learmonth, after describing the decades-old "symbiotic relationship" between Christie and News Corp, turns his attention to Amplify, run by former New York City Chancellor Joel Klein and Christie's former Education Commissioner, Chris Cerf:
In 2014, Christie's education commissioner stepped down to become chief executive of Amplify Insight, an education technology firm that is a subsidiary of News Corp. That same year, the Christie-appointed chief of Newark's school system awarded $2.3 million worth of contracts to Amplify, according to longtime education journalist Bob Braun. Amplify is also listed as having donated $50,000 to the RGA's nonprofit arm when Christie was serving as the RGA's vice chair.
While Klein's explanation of Amplify's mission often uses focus-grouped rhetoric that hides how various "reforms" help the company's bottom line, , Murdoch is more candid in his appraisal of K-12 education: "[W]e see a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed...." Based on Amplify's business model, it would seem that "transformed" means contracts with Amplify to provide assessments, school turnarounds and tablets.

Amplify is just one example of what some, echoing Eisenhower, have called the education-industrial complex. A more accurate term might be the education-industrial-media complex since News Corp, Graham Holdings (Washington Post, Kaplan) and Pearson (which publishes the Financial Times and has a 50% stake in The Economist) are all major media players.

The formula for Cashing in on Kids -- using tax dollars to enrich private companies -- requires companies to put profit ahead of students' needs, a political system that won't hold companies accountable, and sympathetic media coverage.

If there's one situation that embodies all three, it's News Corp's relationship with Christie.