Bloomberg is the 12th richest American with a net worth of $19.5 billion (2011).

He has been the mayor of New York City since 2002. Bloomberg successfully campaigned to lift restrictions on term-limits so he could run for a third term. He narrowly won the election in November 2009. Earlier that year, he successfully campaigned for the renewal of the 2002 law which established mayoral control of public schools in NYC. NOTE: Corporate education reformers prefer mayoral control to independent school boards. A corporate ed reform-minded mayor with full power over a school system can more quickly push through a privatization reform agenda with relatively little opposition.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG

Rupert Murdoch is the 37th richest American with a net worth of $7.4 billion (2011). Murdoch donated large amounts to the Fund for Public Schools (“works to attract private investment in school reform”), a private fundraising arm established by Bloomberg and Klein in 2002. Murdoch’s wife, Wendy, served on the board of FPS.

Shortly after becoming mayor, Bloomberg obtained authority over the NYC school system, acquiring sweeping power to reorganize the district. He replaced the elected Board of Education with the Panel for Educational Policy, a 13-member body of appointees, eight of whom are appointed by the mayor. In June 2002, Bloomberg appointed Joel Klein as Chancellor of the NYC Department of Education, the largest public school system in the country. Klein had no background in the field of education; he had been a U.S. Assistant Attorney General.

Eli Broad is the 48th richest American with a net worth of $6.3 billion (2011). A strong proponent of the corporate ed reform agenda and a major backer of national charter school expansion, Broad gave millions to Learn-NY. (1)

Bill Gates is the 2nd richest man on planet Earth with a net worth of $59 billion (2011). In 2009, Gates gave $4 million of his own money to help preserve Bloomberg’s mayoral control of NYC schools; he secretly bankrolled Learn-NY, a group which conducted an extensive public-relations, media and lobbying (= propaganda) campaign, including massive parent organizing complete with free bus trips to the state capitol. (= fake grassroots). (1)

BILL GATES

OPRAH WINFREY

“Broad played a key role in former U.S. Assistant Attorney General Joel Klein's appointment as New York schools chancellor.” (2) JOEL KLEIN In 2006, Fenty obtained mayoral control of DC Public Schools. He consulted with Klein and [unnamed] “national education experts” (and “few, if any, local leaders and parents”), then appointed Rhee as Chancellor. “It is not clear how many other candidates Fenty interviewed for the job, if any.” Rhee and Klein worked together when she led The
New Teacher Project. (6)

ELI BROAD

RUPERT MURDOCH

Joel Klein became Murdoch’s legal adviser when the News Corp. phone hacking scandal broke in 2011. Afterwards, Klein was assigned to lead the company’s internal inquiry, despite obvious conflict of interest.

In November 2010, Klein resigned and became executive vice president at Murdoch’s news media giant, News Corporation. In his eight years at NYCDE, Klein had presided over a radical reorganization of the NYC public school system. He implemented business-model approaches from the corporate world, such as increasing “choice” in the form of charter schools, weakening union protections, and using a numbers-based accountability system for ranking schools. Klein’s approach resulted in tense and divided communities because of school closures, overcrowding, charter school colocations, and more. Klein had used gains on state tests to justify school closures and to determine principal and teacher bonuses. These gains 4 proved to be a myth. After the discovery that “cut scores” for passing state exams had been raised (making it easier for students to pass), and with an adjustment to those cut scores in 2010, scores for NYC public schools dropped dramatically. (5)

WfS’s release was accompanied by the launch of Done Waiting, a “social action” campaign designed to take advantage of the emotions aroused in audience members who experienced WfS’s intense propaganda. It guided them on how to assist with the advancement of the corporate ed reform agenda. Broad contributed $500,000 to this campaign, as well as $50,000 for the marketing of The Lottery, another pro-charter school film released in 2010. (4)

Gates has been using his celebrity status, his influence, and his immense wealth to become the most powerful oligarch who is advancing corporate education reform. Gates is sometimes referred to as the “czar of U.S. public education.” Gates appeared in Waiting for Superman (WfS), as well as on Oprah to promote the film.

Rhee was in extremely close contact with the Broad Foundation when Chancellor of DCPS, and even visited Eli Broad at his Fifth Ave. apartment in 2008. (3) ANITA DUNN

MICHELLE RHEE

In March 2010, frayed by controversy, Rhee hired Anita Dunn, former White House communications director, then working for a prominent public relations firm, to improve her public image. Katherine Bradley, a local philanthropist, donated $100,000 to pay for this project. Rhee served as DC Chancellor for almost 3 ½ years, resigning in October 2011 after Fenty’s re-election defeat. His loss was partially attributed to public dislike for both Rhee and the corporate ed reform measures she had aggressively applied to DCPS (closing schools, firing teachers, ruthless disruption, etc.). Less than one year prior, Rhee had been selected to play a staring role in Waiting for Superman (WfS). In March 2011, a major DC test score cheating scandal broke. An analysis by USA Today found that 103 of 168 DC public schools had erasure rates that surpassed DC averages at least once since 2008. Principals and teachers at those schools had already received generous bonuses. Rhee was asked to speak with the paper before the article ran, but she declined. Afterwards she called the reporters and her critics “enemies of school reform.” (8)

WfS was released in September 2010 and was expected to garner a second Oscar for director Davis Guggenheim. Despite heavy promotion, this “documentary” film was NOT nominated for an Academy Award. Among other problems which emerged was the revelation that a charter school lottery scene had been staged. (7)

Oprah Winfrey is the 139th richest American with a net worth of $2.7 billion (2011). She used her popular TV show to deliver heavy doses of corporate ed reform propaganda to the American public. Among her many efforts were two episodes dedicated to the promotion of WfS and one show that provided Rhee with a national platform to launch her new lobbying organization StudentsFirst in December 2010.

Read Diane Ravitch’s “The Death and Life of the Great American School System” to learn more.

In 2007, Rhee served on the board of St. HOPE Public Schools, Kevin Johnson’s charter school network. They married in
2011.

ADRIAN FENTY

Philip Anschutz is the 39th richest American with a net worth of $7 billion (2011). He owns Walden Media, co-producer of Waiting for Superman.

OLIGARCHS AND CORPORATE EDUCATION REFORM: THE MICHELLE RHEE CONNECTION
The interlocking is extensive and not all ties are represented on this map. KEVIN JOHNSON

REFERENCES (1) "Gates’ $4 Mil Lesson Aided School Control.” New York Post, 8/18/2009 (2) “Executives trained by turnaround nonprofit.” The Oakland Tribune, 8/11/2003 (3) “Fund and Games; Inside Michelle Rhee's official schedule.” Washington City Paper, 3/6/2009 (4) “Documentary films ratchet up pressure on teachers unions.” Sacramento Bee, 9/24/2010 (5) “Standards Raised, More Students Fail Tests.” New York Times, 7/28/2010 (6) “Fenty To Oust Janey Today.” Washington Post, 6/12/2007 (7) “Waiting for Superman Can Stop Waiting for Oscar.” GOOD magazine, 1/26/2011 (8) “When standardized test scores soared in D.C., were the gains real?” USA Today, 3/30/2011 (9) “Philip Anschutz: Transforming the culture one Hollywood blockbuster at a time.” Media Transparency, 11/5/2007

Anschutz is a Colorado-based Christian conservative billionaire who funds anti-gay efforts as well as the Discovery Institute, a think tank which promotes Intelligent Design. (9)

PHILIP ANSCHUTZ

Map created by Sharon Higgins January 2012