Murdoch heckled by education advocates in SF

A protester, who declined to give his name, is escorted out of News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch's keynote address at the National Summit on Education Reform on Friday, Oct. 14, 2011, in San Francisco. The conference is organized by the Foundation for Excellence in Education, chaired by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, which champions school vouchers, charter schools and performance pay for teachers. Six demonstrators, several dressed as Sesame Street characters, heckled Murdoch before bing removed. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

October 14, 2011 7:36:46 PM PDT
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch was the keynote speaker at the National Summit on Education in San Francisco on Friday. Murdoch's speech was interrupted several times by hecklers.

Murdoch paid $360 million for an online education technology company based out of Brooklyn last year. The business provided service to K-12 schools and brings technology into the classroom. Murdoch's appearance in San Francisco is a sign that he wants to expand his business.

Forty seconds into his speech Murdoch told a crowded ballroom what he thought should become of public education in America.

"We need to tear down an education system designed for the 19th century and replace it with one suited for the 21st," Murdoch said.

Less than a minute later, a heckler interrupted his speech.

"Resist corporate domination of public education!" the heckler said. "Resist it folks! Isn't it time to stand up?!"

The activists are with US Uncut, a group that opposes any cuts to public services. They claim Murdoch is trying to profit from public education.

One year ago, the CEO of News Corporation purchased an online company called Generation Wireless, which makes educational software for schools.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who now heads the Foundation for Excellence in Education, was also in attendance. Bush has long supported charter schools, performance-based initiative pay and digitized learning.

That's where Murdoch comes in.

On Thursday, a teacher's union picketed outside the Palace Hotel where the summit was taking place.

"This conference is about how (you) make a profit out of the fiscal crisis," said Ken Tray with the United Educators of San Francisco. "There is very little about academic achievement...that is Rupert Murdochville."

Murdoch is a controversial figure. During his speech, he often mentioned Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, considered by many to be a technology icon and visionary.

"He was a Silicon Valley liberal who believed that monopolies like our public school system don't work, and that parents deserved student vouchers for their children," Murdoch said.

Jobs was, in fact, in favor of student vouchers. Despite this, the protesters still heckled Murdoch, but the News Corporation CEO seemed to take things in stride.

"It's okay, a little controversy makes things a little more interesting," Murdoch said to applause.

Murdoch thought he had a deal with the New York City public schools, but that $27 million fell through because of the phone hacking scandal involving his newspapers in Britain.

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