Jeb Bush and Rupert Murdoch Spotlight Ed Tech at SF Event

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Rupert Murdoch is slated to attend ed tech event in San Francisco
Reported by Ana Tintocalis

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush says he knows how to fix education in America and he’s convening a national summit in San Francisco today to promote his ideas. Bush formed The Foundation for Excellence in Education after he was termed out of office four years ago.

For this week's event, he's recruited media tycoon Rupert Murdoch to be a headliner. For those who don't know what the controversial name has to do with education, it brings up some questions.

"I was dumbfounded. Rupert Murdoch as the keynote speaker? Would you want your children in a classroom with him?" said Ken Tray a San Francisco history teacher and union leader.

What Tray and others might not know is that last year, Murdoch purchased Wireless Generation, an ed tech company that produces learning software, and is behind the School of One program in New York, which tailors each students' day based on data-driven performance records.

Patricia Levesque, from Foundation for Excellence in Education, says Bush has been on the forefront of provocative reforms, including expanding access to online schools.


In fact, the key focus of this year’s summit is innovation in classroom technology – specifically blended learning. Levesque says the foundation chose San Francisco as the site for the conference because of its proximity to the Silicon Valley, which is the heart of ed tech companies.

“Discussions on blended learning and technology are really about how to empower the teachers who are in the classroom,” Levesque said. “We hope lawmakers [who attend the conference] are going to think differently about how technology can extend the reach of a fantastic and effective teacher.”

Levesque says they plan to highlight San Francisco Flex Academy and Rocketship Education, a network of hybrid-learning schools, as models that should be replicated across the country.

The conference is expected to attract school superintendents, Los Angeles mayor, and education philanthropists from around the country.

Hear the full story on The California Report.

UPDATE: According to the San Francisco Chronicle, teachers unions and activists who are part of the Occupy Wall Street movement that's spreading across the country plan to protest the two-day event because of what they describe as "the selling of public education." Murdoch is scheduled to speak tomorrow morning.

Reporter Steve Begley, a blogger from the K-12 News Network, was thrown out of a panel discussion about school board governance when he asked Joel Klein, former New York City Chancellor who works for Murdoch, a question about News Corp's revenue goals, according to a Mother Jones article.