ALBANY, N.Y. June 9, 2011 - New York State United Teachers today expressed outrage at a Daily News report that the state Education Department appears ready to award a $27 million no-bid contract to a company headed by former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and owned by News Corp
., publisher of the New York Post.
“When a deal smells as bad as this one, you have to ask: Is the push to use standardized test scores to evaluate teachers really about improving teaching and student achievement? Or, is it about finding ways for Wall Street and big corporations to cash in on Race to the Top?” asked NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi.
Iannuzzi said NYSUT would ask the state comptroller to reject the contract, and the state attorney general’s office to investigate any conflicts of interest in the awarding of the Race to the Top contract, less than a month after the Board of Regents rushed through new regulations that allow school districts to potentially double the weight of standardized tests in teacher evaluations.
NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira questioned why the state Education Department tried to quietly award the contract to the Wireless Generation/Klein/News Corp. enterprise. “The Regents chancellor and state Education Department leaders demand ever-increasing transparency and accountability from teachers, but pay lip service to transparency and accountability when it comes to awarding lucrative contracts to their friends and political allies,” she said.
The Daily News reported today that Wireless Generation, a company purchased for $360 million by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. in November 2010, was in line to receive the no-bid contract. Wireless Generation has developed software to track student test scores and is one of Murdoch’s first forays into for-profit education technology. In a speech in Paris last Month, Murdoch said Wireless Generation could be a gateway to a $500 billion education technology market, according to The Wall Street Journal.
NYSUT, the state’s largest union, represents more than 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.