We'll start with Rupert Murdoch, who is, of course, stinking rich from running his media empire, which includes the rabidly right-wing Fox News - a favored media stop for NJ Governor Chris Christie.
Last year, Murdoch apparently way overpaid for a company called Wireless Generation, which is an education services contractor. He installed former NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein as the president of the company, which turned out to be a smart investment, as Klein (a former lawyer in the Clinton administration) also serves as his consigliere during the phone-hacking scandal Murdoch is embroiled in.
It's worth noting that Wireless Generation is the company that allegedly screwed up New Jersey's Race To The Top application, costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars.
Wireless Generation was pursuing a $27 million no-bid contract with New York state to build a data system to track student performance - presumably as part of a teacher evaluation system. That contract took a dive when the phone hacking scandal broke. But there is no doubt: Wireless Generation is on the prowl for new business.
This bears repeating: Rupert Murdoch has a vested interest in education "reform." He makes money when states embrace teacher evaluation systems based on standardized testing.
Now, according to Stephen Brill, Murdoch has given as much as $50 million to Michelle Rhee's "reform" group, Students First. Despite Rhee's many shortcomings as both a teacher and as Washington DC's former schools chancellor, Rhee has vowed to raise one billion dollars in an effort to promote her agenda, which includes teacher evaluations based on standardized tests and charter schools.
OK, let's bring this to New Jersey. Recently, Students First partnered with Derrell Bradford's B4K, an organization that has both an "advocacy" arm (run by Bradford) and a PAC (run by a Wall Street vet and my blogging buddy, Mike Lilley). Both organizations have not yet had to release any documentation as to where their funds have come from, or where they have been disbursed. But press reports, and their own press releases, tell us a few things:
B4K, by its own account, involved itself in four races for the NJ Assembly. Two of their candidates won: Troy Singleton and Gabby Mosquera. B4K is happy to crow about their win, although Mosquera's win was pretty much preordained by redrawing the district, and Singleton avoided a primary challenge by appointment from the Norcross South Jersey machine.
In other words: it's not as if Mosquera's or Singleton's victories were much in question (Mosquera's less than Singleton's). Yet B4K threw money behind them. Yes, granted, they also backed two losers; still, why put this money behind two pretty much foregone conclusions?
Well, let's review:
Joel Klein's Wireless Generation exists to make money for Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch gives money to Michelle Rhee's Students First. Students First "partners" with Derrell Bradford's B4K - we don't know how the money flows here, but:
By working together, with your help, in the interest of children, this new alliance will surely be able to follow the lead of states like Florida, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio and Tennessee, which enacted comprehensive education reforms in recent months. We couldn't do this work without your support. Thanks for your efforts. We look forward to working with you in New Jersey. [emphasis mine]
Yes, indeed: Students First was happy to jump into the Michigan political landscape. Rhee has a history of involving herself in politics. And she has her own particular political bent. So we may not have the particulars, but there is certainly a history of Rhee supporting particular candidates.
And Student First's partner, B4K, gives money to the candidacies of NJ legislators.
So, let's look at our diagram again. It seems as if the circle is broken. How would we close it?