The man chosen to give the breakfast keynote address on the second day of the upcoming National Summit on Education Reform 2011: Education Everywhere , is none other than ... media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Yes indeed, the Rupert Murdoch set to speak on technology’s power to transform education is the same Rupert Murdoch recently hauled before a British parliamentary committee to explain why a newspaper he owned had used technology to hack the phones of thousands of British citizens for years — including the phone of a murdered 13-year-old girl, thus interfering with the police investigation. (Murdoch closed the newspaper.)

The summit is being convened next month in San Francisco by former Florida Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, an organization through which Bush has maintained strong influence across the country as a leader in standardized test-based school reform. Last year’s gathering was in Washington D.C. and topics for discussion were charter schools, choice, innovation and technology — favorites among modern school reformers.

Asked why Murdoch was asked to speak, Jaryn Emhof, communications director for the foundation, said in an e-mail:

“We were motivated to invite Mr. Murdoch after reading his eloquent speech before G8 Summit on leveraging the power of technology to improve education.”

Well it’s better than leveraging the power of technology to hack into people’s phones.

Murdoch must have given some speech because there are plenty of other folks who can wax truly eloquent about educational technology.

Of course the other folks aren’t billionaire media moguls who late last year decided to enter the educational marketplace with the hiring of former New York City Schools chancellor Joel Klein and then, a few weeks later, the purchase of 90 percent of Wireless Generation, an education technology company, for $360 million. It turned out that the company had financial ties to the New York City public school system. What a surprise.

Murdoch’s speech at the e-G8 summit of policymakers and entrepreneurs from leading industrialized nations in Paris last May was titled “Digital’s Next Frontier: Education” (you can watch it here should you be so inclined).

He said in that speech: “The same technologies that transformed every other aspect of modern life can transform education, provide our businesses with the talent they need to thrive, and give hundreds of millions of young people at the fringes of prosperity the opportunity to make their own mark on this global economy.”

Eloquent indeed.

The foundation’s website says this about the October summit:

“Our flagship initiative, the National Summit on Education Reform, annually convenes the best and brightest from around the world to share strategies to improve the quality of education.”

I’ve gotta tell you, when I think about the “best and brightest”people who can devise strategies to improve the quality of education, Murdoch never comes to mind.

The fact that it did to the people holding the summit underscores just how much big business and big money are driving education reform today.


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