October 18, 2011 > Rupert Murdoch heckled at Calif. education forum
Rupert Murdoch heckled at Calif. education forum
By Terence Chea, Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO (AP), Oct 14 - Protesters from the Occupy Wall Street movement heckled News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch during a speech at an education forum Friday, accusing the media mogul of trying to profit from public education.
Activists repeatedly interrupted Murdoch as he gave a keynote speech at a downtown San Francisco hotel about how technology could help transform the nation's public education system.
``Equality in education, not privatization!'' one woman shouted as security guards escorted her out of the ballroom of the Palace Hotel, which hosted the National Summit on Education Reform.
``Corporations own all the media in the world. Why should they not own all the education as well?'' activist Joe Hill yelled sarcastically. Hill, who was dressed as the ``Count'' character from the TV show ``Sesame Street,'' also was pushed out of the meeting room.
Murdoch appeared unfazed.
``It's OK, a little controversy makes everything more interesting,'' he said to audience applause before continuing his half-hour speech.
About half a dozen hecklers were escorted out of the hotel after they disrupted Murdoch's speech but said they were not arrested. They joined about two dozen protesters holding signs and chanting ``Occupy Wall Street! Occupy Sesame Street!'' outside the conference.
Speaking outside, Hill accused Murdoch and other corporate leaders of trying to ``use the economic crisis to further privatize education and divert more public funds into private corporate interests.''
Murdoch appeared as part of a two-day education forum sponsored by the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a group chaired by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. The organization champions school vouchers, charter schools, performance pay for teachers and digital learning.
``We need to tear down an education system designed for the 19th century and replace it with one suited for the 21st,'' Murdoch said during his morning address.
``You don't get change by plugging in computers at schools designed for the industrial age,'' Murdoch said. ``You get it by developing technology that rewrites the rules of the game by centering learning around the learner.''
Last year, News Corp. acquired Wireless Generation, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based company that provides software and services to K-12 schools. In August, New York's comptroller rejected a $27 million contract with the educational technology company because of the phone-hacking scandal involving News Corp.'s British newspapers.
On Thursday afternoon, more than 100 protesters, mostly San Francisco teachers, picketed outside the hotel, protesting Murdoch's presence at the education conference.