Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Klein: Murdoch brings in the spin master

There’s just so much to say about this Murdoch phone hacking scandal that it might be best to get a lot of it out of the way courtesy of the prince of photoshop, Matt Walker:

(The optional response boxes at the bottom of this shot are:

  • I can't remember

  • Not to my knowledge

  • No, I have no recollection of that

  • You have to ask them

  • Act confused and senile)

    • But here’s one that Matt didn’t need to touch up. It’s hilarious, tragic and instructive in it’s own right:

      Immediately behind the right shoulder of James Murdoch is the disgraced former Chancellor of Education in New York City, Joel Klein.

      Klein was once the shining star of educational "reform” in the US, holding schools “accountable” for student test results through a system of publicly available school “report cards”. However, the system turned to high farce following what Diane Ravitch, Professor of Education at New York University, has called “rigged and fraudulent” reports. (See http://www.saveourschools.com.au/league-tables/high-farce-in-new-york ).

      Recognising a snake-oil salesman, Murdoch snapped up Klein last November when he appointed him a vice-director of News Corporation. Murdoch was keen to use Klein to open up the education market to his publishing and online empire:

      “We’re very fortunate to have a leader of such exceptional depth join the senior executive team of News Corporation,” said Mr. Murdoch on November 9.2010. “His record of achievement leading one of the country’s toughest school systems has given him a unique perspective that will be particularly important as we look into a sector that has long been in need of innovation.”

      What Murdoch meant by “innovation” was spelled out more clearly at this year’s G8 meeting in France. He referred to education as “the last frontier” - a vast market waiting to be invaded, conquered and financially exploited by News of the World and other companies.

      He cited approvingly what he called Sweden’s “IKEA schools”, the Knowledge Schools chain, the owner of which has said: “If we're religious about anything, it's standardisation. We tell our teachers it is more important to do things the same way than to do them well.”

      What attracted Murdoch, sniffing for dollars like a dog at its neighbour’s bum, was this: “Like IKEA, a giant Swedish furniture-maker, Kunskapsskolan gets its customers to do much of the work themselves. The vital tool, though, is not an Allen key but the Kunskapsporten (“Knowledge Portal”), a website containing the entire syllabus.”

      Note, students are “customers”. The chain of schools to which Murdoch referred has 700 employees and teaches nearly 10,000 pupils, with an operating profit of SKr62m last year on a turnover of SKr655m. ($A1 = SKr6.7).

      Murdoch wants to take this approach internationally.

      All of that is on hold for the moment.

      Klein, the master of spin, has been tasked by Murdoch with heading News Corporation’s internal investigation into the phone hacking scandal.

      Murdoch said Klein would provide "important oversight and guidance" as the company "co-operates with the police in all investigations".

      We hope that “co-operation with the police” extends to having Mr Murdoch’s toothbrush packed and ready for when he is arrested, as he should be, and taken to the holiday home for ageing reactionaries and fascists.

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