The Story Behind the Story of Washington State Charters

As we reported earlier, the 6-3 ruling last Friday by the State of Washington’s Supreme Court that charter schools there are unconstitutional sent tremors across the U.S. education community.

At the heart of the matter is whether or not charter schools in Washington are public or private schools, and if they are not public, then they can not receive public school funding.  There was little disagreement among the judges that since their charters are not governed by public boards, they are not public schools   In fact, a separate opinion by the justices wanting to uphold the law stated that charter schools are not public.

The contested law was known as Initiative 1240 and passed by Washington voters 51 percent to 49 percent.  This was the fourth attempt in the state to pass charter legislation.

But as much as anything, the vote in 2012 was a remarkable display of the vast amounts of money being used to try and direct public education around the county.  Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post looks at this effort in detail.

In all, proponents spent $11.2 million to encourage a “yes” vote.  Some $10.2 million came from just 17 donors–an average of $601,000 each.  Bill Gates gave more than $3 million and Alice Walton of the Wal-Mart family gave $1.7 million.

As always, you have to ask “why” this is happening.  What is the end game for these billionaires and millionaires?  Why did three multi-millionaires spend $350,000 in Alabama in 2014 to fund legislative campaigns through the Alabama Federation for Children?  Why did StudentsFirst, an organization in Sacramento, CA spend $200,000 in  Alabama in 2014 legislative races?

Are we to believe that one morning last year a millionaire real estate developer in San Francisco woke up one morning, told his wife that he didn’t sleep well the night before because he was worried about school children in Wilcox County, AL and proceeded to send $100,000 to Alabama?

Sorry, but that’s one I just can’t swallow.

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