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DiNapoli vs. Murdoch
August 28th, 2011

You might have missed this as you were taping your windows yesterday: The Daily News reports that State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has rejected the state Department of Education contracts with Wireless Generation. The educational tech company is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. — and as a result under the purview of former Schools Chancellor, now Murdoch consigliare Joel Klein.

In rejecting the $27 million deal, DiNapoli cited the phone hacking scandal that has shaken Murdoch’s British newspaper empire — and Britain’s government as well. “In light of the significant ongoing investigations and continuing revelations with respect to News Corp., we are returning the contract with Wireless Generation unapproved,” DiNapoli’s office wrote to the Education Department.

The education department blasted DiNapoli’s move, with a spokesperson accusing the comptroller of having “allowed political pressure to get in the way of vital technology that would help our students/”

The state was prepared to use part of its federal Race to the Top money to pay Wireless Generation to develop software to track student test scores, achievement and so on, creating a system similar to the Achievement Reporting and Innovation System, or ARIS, that it developed for the city schools.

Even before the phone hacking scandal, the deal did not meet the smell test for many. The contract was a no-bid deal, even though many other companies reportedly expressed interest in it.

As chancellor, Klein had long been a booster of Wireless Generation, then an independent company, even as many complained of problems with ARIS. Two weeks after Klein left the city education department and inked a multi-million dollar deal with Murdoch, News Corp. bought Wireless Generation.

The deal with the state “raises all kinds of red flags,” Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York told the Daily News in June. “It just smacks of an old-boys club, where large amounts of public money are spent based not on ‘is this the best product?’ but ‘I know this guy and I like him and I want to be sure he makes a lot of money.’”

The city and state teachers unions — never fans of Murdoch or Klein — have been pressing the state to reject the contract.

By on August 28, 2011, 12:53 pm
In category: Albany,Education,Eye on Albany,Public Finance,Tech | 1 Comment »

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One Response to “DiNapoli vs. Murdoch”

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