State voters voted down charter school ballot measures in 1996, 2000, and 2004. But some wealthy individuals are committed to these schools and are funding I-1240.
Where's the money coming from?
Of the $2.3 million raised by the “Yes on I-1240″ campaign as of the July 6 signature filing deadline$1.6 million came from seven families tied to Microsoft. Add one Amazon family to this tech millionaires club, and the total is $2.1 million. to get the initiative on the ballot, the state’s Public Disclosure Commission reports
Microsoft executives Bill Gates and Paul Allen have been major supporters of this family of ballot measures to the tune of more than $5 million.
Other heavy hitters have joined the cause since the filing deadline. Specifically, Alice Walton of the Walmart family donated $600,000 while Seattle philanthropists Bruce and Jolene McCaw ponied up $100,000.
Note: in 2004, it was another Walton, John, who gave but let's give it time.
According to FollowTheMoney, here were the top five R-55 contributors (accompanied by percentage of total money raised) in 2004:
- John T. Walton (Walmart) — $1,020,000 (25.86%)
- Bill Gates (Microsoft) — $1,000,000 (25.35%)
- Donald G. Fisher (The Gap) — $965,388 (24.47%)
- Eli Broad (Real estate & insurance magnate) — $200,000 (5.07%)
- Reed Hastings (Netflix) — $190,255 (4.82%)
If voters adopt I-1240, they will be saying “yes” to a new state agency — the Washington Charter School Commission. They are directing the state’s Board of Education to manage the process for approving charter schools.
They are also politically appointed, have to practically take an oath of love for charters, have ZERO oversight and no mechanism to get rid of any low-performers (and there's that accountability issue again).
Linkage to other charter groups?
They agree Washington charter schools must follow practices developed by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and the Robertson Foundation – some of the very people bankrolling this initiative. (bold mine)
The poison pill of the initiative (which the reporter doesn't fully spell out, neglecting to say ANY school, failing or not, could be taken over by a charter with a majority of signatures on a petition) :
In addition, I-1240 enables an existing public school to be converted to a charter school if the applicant has majority support of the parents or of the teachers. The resulting charter school would not pay rent to the public school district that owns the facility.
(And, the district has to pay major maintenance on the building as well from capital dollars.)
Information to know and consider. Even if you like charters, you have to wonder about the huge push by a small group of very wealthy people AND why this initiative is so flawed.