News Corp. Puts Its Thumb On The Scale Of LA Elections

News Corp. subsidiary News America Inc. has pumped a quarter million dollars into today's Board of Education elections in Los Angeles. Rupert Murdoch's corporation is not merely an interested onlooker in the elections; fellow News. Corp subsidiary Wireless Generation has a contract with the school district.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “a relatively small group of major donors” has given big last-minute financial support to a political action committee called the “Coalition for School Reform.”  The PAC reportedly aims to help current Los Angeles schools superintendent John Deasy survive the elections by supporting board candidates that favor keeping him in the position.

Among the major donations listed by the Times are $250,000 from News Corp. subsidiary News America Inc. and an additional $25,000 from News Corp VP Joel Klein, who heads up Amplify, the corporation's education division.  

As Anthony Cody has explained at Education Week, Wireless Generation, an education technology company owned by News Corp. “already has a big contract” with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). According to Wireless Generation's website, starting in July 2011, the group partnered with the LAUSD to provide “DIBELS,” a reading assessment tool. 

News Corp. has previously inserted itself into local education politics with close financial ties to its education division. In September 2012, Joel Klein penned a column for the Wall Street Journal attacking striking Chicago teachers without disclosing News Corp.'s role in the multi-million dollar testing contracts that were central to the teachers' dispute.

Murdoch also reportedly has designs to further influence Los Angeles-area politics; he has expressed serious interest in purchasing the LA Times and bringing it under the News Corp. umbrella.