Home > Uncategorized > Who Paid for Washington State’s Charter School Initiative?

Who Paid for Washington State’s Charter School Initiative?

January 4, 2015

This is why campaign finance reform is critically important! It’s bad enough that oligarchs are “investing” in state referenda and in gubernatorial elections, but, as noted in earlier posts, their money is beginning to contaminate local school board elections. By the time voters wake up and see their local control is diminished it will be politically impossible to restore funding to provide schools as we know them today.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Wayne Au and Joseph J. Ferrare have published an interesting article in the TC Record about the passage of charter school legislation in Washington State.

The intriguing aspect of the charter referendum in 2012 is that a similar proposition had been presented to voters three times in the recent past and voted down three times.

In 2012, however, billionaires and venture philanthropists and their allies created a huge fund to support the charter initiative, over $10.9 million. You will not be surprised to learn that Bill Gates supplied over $3 million of the total, followed closely by Alice Walton, heiress of the Walmart fortune, at $1.7 million. What is startling is that almost 98% of the $10.9 million was contributed by only 21 individuals.

We have seen a number of elections where extraordinary individuals managed to overcome a huge spending disadvantage to win a school board seat. This was not…

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. January 4, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    Thought these new district suburban options might interest you. In some places such as California, Colorado, Georgia, Minnesota and New Jersey, new options ARE being created in affluent suburban communities. In some cases (like the ones named here), districts are turning to teachers and empowering them to create district options:


    • January 4, 2015 at 1:24 pm

      You’re right, Joe, these schools DO resonate with me and they are in affluent districts… But from what I read none of these are deregulated for-profit schools: they are governed by elected school boards and manned by teachers employed by the school district. This is the kind of charter school Al Shanker envisioned and it COULD result in the kind of incremental change that typifies democratically controlled public schools. I wholeheartedly hope the kind of progressive education described in these schools takes hold and supersedes the test-driven standardized education in place today… but as the article illustrates, one of the biggest obstacles to this change will be the parents who want to be assured their child is not missing out on the basics!

      • January 4, 2015 at 2:07 pm

        Yes the options cited in this article are being run as part of districts. Fortunately these are options so families that want them can have them, families that prefer the traditional can select that.

        The “charters” that Shanker envisioned were nothing new except for a new label. He knew that teachers had been empowered to create new district options in NYC. But he was very good at making it appear to the news media that he was coming up with new ideas. So he took an old idea and put a new name on it.

        There also are a number of suburbs around the country where charters have developed, some as part of national groups. You questioned whether such charter options are being created in affluent suburbs. Answer is yes.

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