Pro-Charter Forces Now over $8M

Kind of takes your breath away.  Of course, it isn't like the donors are any big surprise.  There's:

Bill Gates - he's thrown in another $2M (he's at about $3M but that doesn't count the money he threw to get 1240 on the ballot)

Alice Walton (of Wal-Mart) - must really love charters in Arkansas and Texas because she put in another $1.1M (that makes about $1.7M altogether)

A U.S. congressman from Colorado, Jared Polis

DeShaw - --> "a global investment and technology development firm"

An interesting couple, Anne Dinning and Michael Wolf, from NYC who have helped create Turnaround for Children, a non-profit that helps low-performing schools with high-needs students (wonder if they help all those low-performing charters).  What's interesting is here's a page from an investment firm, New Profit, inc., that shows Turnaround for Children's "performance."  You'll note that the number of children they serve has gone down but their profit is up.  

That probably works out well for a number of folks.   Maybe not public education but it works out for someone.  

It is quite the David and Goliath battle but I think one worth waging.  


Greg Linden said…
I went and looked this up at the WA state Public Disclosure Commission. It really is amazing.

"No on 1240" has only raised $12,500.

"Yes on 1240" has raised $8,200,000, mostly from a few very wealthy families.

The polls currently have 1240 at only 49% approval with many still undecided. But, with this kind of spending, and being outspent over 600 to 1, well, I don't know what to say. I guess I'll just say, wow.
Anonymous said…
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Unknown said…
@Greg, I made the same mistake you did. There is more than one group funding the anti I-1240 movement. One group is the No on 1240. The other is "People for Our Public Schools," which interestingly enough, used to get money from Nick Hanauer, now funding the opposing view. The top donors are the WEA, at near $175,000, and SEIU, at $50,000. Total raised in this group is about $250,000. Top individual donor is Matt Loschen, a retired Microsoft employee and Redmond school PTA volunteer.

But yes, if the No on 1240 folks win, they can add "Giant Killers" to their resumes.
Dorothy Neville said…
Greg, to be clear, there are two PACS fighting 1240. We created our PAC in July, with just a few bucks and strong ideals. Without much money, we created yard signs, stickers, flyers and attended events up and down the I5 corridor gathering endorsements (mostly from LD DEMS groups) and educating voters. We've got yard signs all over the state. Melissa, me, a few other Seattle parents along with a group of concerned parents in Tacoma have done this work.

The other PAC, People for Our Public Schools, was formed years ago. I think it fought R55 in 2004 and I know it was active in 2007 for school levy reform (bringing the simple majority to school levy measures). It was resurrected in late August to fight 1240. They do have more resources than we do, thank goodness! So they are running the statewide campaign, but still on a shoestring compared to the YES side; they've raised $225K in cash so far.

So any contribution to either campaign is appreciated. Contributions to us (thank you, Greg!) once our debts are paid will go in support of the statewide efforts of People for Our Public Schools. To that effort, we are holding a "Money Blast" this Thursday, where the first 50 people to contribute $100 will have their donations matched.

Our scrappy parent-driven campaign
People for Our Public Schools

And if you can't give money, there is always the opportunity to give time. People for Our Public Schools will be doing phone banking and we are coordinating doorbelling and other events.

Greg Linden said…
Ah, I see, thanks, I didn't realize there are two separate groups opposing 1240.

Even so, opponents are still being outspent 30 to 1. Proponents have raised over $8,200,000. Opponents have raised $264,000 and $12,500.

That still is gobsmacking. It is a wild disparity in funding. That is the kind of thing that the press should be talking about a lot more.
Dorothy Neville said…
Greg, this really shouldn't surprise you. This is the way it's done these days in the oligarchy you and I live in. Business interests spend huge amounts of money to influence government policy, then reap the benefits. They have the money to create organizations that work year in and year out for their goals.

Who did you think would have the money, time and organization to oppose 1240? Who is organized and looking out for the working class, the poor, the real middle class (as opposed to the Romney-Obama definition of middle class equals those earning $250K)?

Post gilded age, organized labor was a force to balance out business interests in government policy-making, but business wised up in the late 70s and labor has been eviscerated. Now most private sector labor unions are toast and therefore the rhetoric is all about how public sector unions are ruining America. So yes, most of the $276K raised to oppose 1240 has been from labor, but as you can see, it is pennies compared to what the 1% can provide from their pocket change.

I have to admit when I first heard about ALEC, I couldn't believe it. Surely the people with tin foil hats are exaggerating? I certainly don't doubt it anymore.

Winner Take All Politics by Hacker and Pierson.

Who Stole the American Dream by Smith.

The Betrayal of the American Dream by Bartlett and Steele.
Unknown said…
I'm not sure if this is any comfort, but the Yes on 1240 campaign already spent $2.6 million on just obtaining signatures on the original petition.

Although some people paint this as 1% vs the 99%, I am not sure that this is a complete picture of who is who. I would say it is more like the .0001% vs the 99.9999%. That is what kind of wealth we are up against. And although people typically think of the that kind of wealth as being associated with ALEC, that is probably not exactly who we are dealing with here. These are not the Koch brother types-- although Alice Walton is. These people could most accurately be described as a mix of extremely wealthy education reform democrats with a libertarian or two thrown in. This is an unusual group. Many are of the opinion that the 1% should be more heavily taxed. Nick Hanauer, one member, in very ironic fashion, has been known to give talks on the sins of widening income inequality. And yet, he has his kid in a private school and donates a million dollars to the Yes on 1240 PAC.

The Seattle Times has been covering how much is being donated to the campaign. Here is the link from yesterday: Charter Schools Campaign Receives Sizable Donations. Here is a more in-depth one from July: Wealthy Throwing Money at Charter-Schools Iniative .

Anyway, please feel free to donate to the campaign tomorrow, when there is a match on for the first 50 donors of $100. And have your friends to donate, too.
Unknown said…

I can't find any information directly tying Anne Dinning or Michael Wolf to Turnaround. I can find that their foundation gave $900,000 to the Robin Hood Foundation last year, which does, in turn, donate to Turn Around. I can also find that their foundation gave $500,000 to a different education reform group the year before.

Although you are correct that Anne Dinning and Michael Wolf are New York residents, I think Anne Dinning has two or three ties to WA state. The first is to Jeff Bezos, a major charter supporter, who used to work at D. E. Shaw, where Anne is the managing director. is said to have been an offshoot of a brainstorming session at D. E. Shaw. Also, Anne attended undergraduate school at the University of Washington. She and her husband Michael Wolf fund a number of position in the Math/ Computer Science department there. In addition, she has owned a summer home near the UW for many years.
Ellie Kesselman said…
Mary Griffin,
Please stop by, say hello? I would like to talk to you. You are correct, there is no information whatsoever tying Anne Dinning and Michael Wolf to Turnaround, at least, not at an initial glance I just did, which surprised me. However, Trey Beck is listed as the chairman of the Board of Directors of the organization, and he works for D.E. Shaw.

Regarding the size of the donations, to the proposal in your state, there were two media sources I saw. One indicated that Anne and Michael jointly contributed $500,000 (Seattle Times) see
whereas another said $100,000 each (Big bucks to billionaires initiative) see
Note that it was the latter that stated the affiliation to this Turnaround organization. Turnaround appears to be a major force for change of some sort. They are actively hiring, soliciting donations, with offices in all boroughs of NYC as well as in Washington D.C.

Hello to Greg Linden! I know you from Google Buzz, and from your blog! It is I, Ellie K. I was just reading an article in the Communications of the ACM, it might have been from 2009, I forget now, in which you were among several who were quoted.

Anyway, I have said too much already, probably, as usual. Sigh. I am not a fan of charter schools, not at all. I don't live in Seattle, but I think public schools are best.

If I can be of assistance, feel free to contact me. I am easy to find.

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