The colossal and disastrous effort to privatize public education in the United States is alive and well thanks to a plethora of billionaires who, although they’d never send their own children to a public school, have decided that individually and collectively, they know what is best for the nation’s students, parents, teachers and public schools.
From New York City to Los Angeles and Washington State to Florida, the “billionaire boys club,” as Diane Ravitch, the country’s leading public education advocate, has dubbed them, are spending hundreds of millions of dollars via campaign contributions, Dark Money expenditures and their personal foundations to “fix” what they claim are the problems plaguing the country’s public schools.
These neo-gilded age philanthropists claim that the solution is for parents, teachers and education advocates to step aside so that the billionaires and their groupies can transform public education by creating privately owned and operated – but taxpayer funded – charter schools.
In addition, they pontificate that students learn best when schools are mandated to use the ill-conceived Common Core standards so classrooms become little more than Common Core testing factories and the teaching profession is opened up to those who haven’t been burdened by lengthy college based education programs designed to provide educators with the comprehensive skill sets necessary to work with and teach the broad range of children who attend the country’s public schools.
The billionaire’s proclaim that the solution to creating successful schools is really rather simple.
They say that public schools run best when they are run like a business…
Cut through their rhetoric and the billionaires want us to believe that by introducing competition and the concept of “profit” they can turnaround any school, no matter the challenges it or its students may face….
Privatization, they argue, will lead to greater efficiencies while opening up the public purse to those who have products that they seek to sell to our children and our public schools.
And, the billionaires would have us believe, that the best teachers are those who get five weeks of training via a high-profile Teach for America program and are then thrown into the classroom where they, like all teachers, should be evaluated based on how well their students do on those unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core standardized tests.
Like the military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about more than 55 years ago, the billionaires, the charter school industry and their corporate education reform allies want us to believe that providing children with the skills and knowledge to succeed and prosper in the 21st Century is nothing more than an opportunity to “wage war” and make money, all at the same time.
And who are these billionaires?
They are the self-professed greatest names in the United States.
The following is a partial and growing list of the super elite who deem to dabble in remaking our public schools.
Or as they would put it, blessed are the wealthy for they shall reform our public schools, with or without our consent.
|First Name||Last Name||Net Worth||Relationship with Corporate Education Reform and Charter School Industry (Partial list)||How They got their billions|
|John||Arnold||$2.5 B||Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Democrats for Education Reform, Education Reform Now, EdVoice, New Teacher Project||Hedge Fund Owner – Centaurus Advisors LLC|
|Louis||Bacon||$1.9 B||StudentsFirst, Cuomo Donor, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany||Hedge Fund Owner – Moore Capital Management|
|Steve||Ballmer||$23.5 B||Stand for Children, Major Dark Money Donor||Microsoft CEO|
|William||Berkley||$1.1 B||Achievement First, Inc.||WR Berkley Corporation Founder Chairman CEO – insurance sports and entertainment companies|
|Michael||Bloomberg||$40 B||Leadership for Educational Equity, Teach for America, Stand for Children, New Leaders for New Schools, California Charter School Advocates, Major Dark Money Donor||Co-founder, Bloomberg LP Owner, former Mayor of New York City|
|Eli||Broad||$7.3 B||The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, EDVoice, California Charter School, Cuomo Donor, Malloy Donor, Major Dark Money Donor||Sun Life Insurance Company of America – (Retired)|
|Steve||Cohen||$12.7 B||Steve and Alexandra Cohn Foundation, Harlem Children’s Zone, Achievement First, NE Charter School Network, Teach for America||Hedge Fund Owner – SAC Capital Advisors|
|Ray||Dalio||$15.6 B||Dalio Foundation, Teach for America,||Hedge Fund Owner – Bridgewater Associates Owner Founder – hedge|
|Elizabeth||DeVos||$4.7 B||DeVos Family Foundation, Alliance for School Choice, American Federation for Children, Stand for Children, All Children Matter, Children’s Scholarship Fund, Major Dark Money Donor||Amway Owner Co-Founder – Orlando Magic NBA Team Owner|
|John||Doerr||$4.1 B||New Schools Venture Fund, EdVoice,||Venture Capitalist – Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byera|
|Stanley||Druckenmiller||$4.4 B||Children’s Scholarship Fund,||Hedge Fund Owner – Duquesne Capital – Retired|
|David||Einhorn||$1.4 B||Democrats for Education Reform,||Hedge Fund Owner – Greenlight Capital|
|Doris||Fisher||$2.6 B||Doris & Donald Fisher Fund, KIPP Foundation, Ed Voice,||Gap Inc. Co-Founder|
|John||Fisher||$2.2 B||Doris & Donald Fisher Fund, KIPP Foundation, Charter School Growth Fund, Silicon Valley Growth Fund, Ed Voice,||Gap Inc. Heir Owner – Oakland Athletics Owner|
|Bill||Gates||$75 B||Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation||Microsoft Chairman|
|Reed||Hastings||$1.2 B||KIPP Foundation, Ed Voice, California Charter School Association, Major Funder||Netflix Co-Founder Facebook Board Member|
|H Wayne||Huizenga||$2.6 B||National Heritage Academies, Inc. (NHA) for-profit charter school management organization, Stand for Children||Investor, Waste Management- Blockbuster Video – AutoNation – Swisher Hygiene|
|Ray Lee||Hunt||$5.3 B||Texans for Education Reform,||Hunt Oil Co-Owner Heir – son of founder H L Hunt – oil|
|Carl||Icahn||$17 B||Icahn Charter Schools, StudentsFirst, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany||Icahn Enterprises Owner|
|Charles||Johnson||$4.6 B||Charles and Ann Johnson Foundation, Alliance for School Choice, American Education Reform Council||Chairman, Franklin Resources – Owner of San Francisco Giants|
|Paul||Tudor Jones III||4.7 B||Families for Excellent Schools, StudentsFirst, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany, Cuomo Donor||Hedge Fund Owner – Tudor Investment Corporation|
|Bruce||Karsh||$1.9 B||KIPP Foundation, Teach for America||Hedge Fund Owner – Oaktree Capital Management|
|Seth||Klarman||$1.3 B||Families of Excellent Schools, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany||Hedge Fund Owner – Baupost Group Investments|
|Charles||Koch||$39.6 B||American for Prosperity, American Encore, Major Dark Money Donor||Koch Industries|
|David||Koch||$39.6 B||American for Prosperity, American Encore, , Major Dark Money Donor||Koch Industries|
|Bruce||Kovner||$5.3 B||Thomas T Fordham Institute (former), Bronx Preparatory Charter School,||Hedge Fund Owner – Caxton Associates|
|Kenneth||Langone||$2.7 B||Families for Excellent Schools, StudentsFirst, Harlem Children’s Zone, Republicans for Cuomo||Home Depot Co-Founder|
|Daniel||Loeb||$2.6 B||Success Academy, Families for Excellent Schools, StudentsFirst, Cuomo Donor, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany||Hedge Fund Owner – Third Point LLC|
|Stephen||Mandel Jr||$2.5 B||Teach for America, Excel Bridgeport,||Hedge Fund Owner – Lone Pine Capital|
|Robert||McNair||$3.3 B||Texans for Education Reform,||Chairman, McNair Group|
|Rupert||Murdoch||$10.6 B||Amplify||News Corporation Founder Chairman, CEO|
|Laurene||Powell Jobs||$16.7 B||NewSchools Venture Fund, Teach for America,||Apple-Pixar Owner|
|Thomas (Margot)||Pritzker||$2.7 B||University of Chicago Charter School,||Pritzker Organization Chairman CEO – Hyatt Hotels Corp Executive Chairman|
|Penny||Pritzker||$2.3 B||Noble Charter Schools,||Hyatt Hotels Heir –|
|Larry||Robbins||$2 B||KIPP New York, Relay Graduate School of Education, Teach for America New York, Harlem Village Academies, Harlem Children’s Zone||Hedge Fund Owner -Glenview Capital Management|
|Julian||Robertson Jr||$3.6 B||Robertson Foundation, Pave Charter Schools, Families for Excellent Schools, iMentor, Teach for America, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany||Hedge Fund Owner – Tiger Management Corporation|
|Stacy||Schusterman||$3.4 B||Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Charter School Growth Fund, Ed Voice, Stand for Children, Teach for America||Samson Investment Company (oil & gas)|
|Charles||Schwab||$5.4 B||Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, Teach for America, Aspire, KIPP Foundation,||Charles Schwab Corp Founder|
|Paul||Singer||$2.2 B||Paul Singer Family Foundation, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany||Elliott Management Corporation Founder Owner – distressed debt acquisitions|
|Christy||Walton||$5.2 B||Walton Foundation, Major Dark Money Donor||Wal-Mart Co-Owner Heir-Widow of John-who was son Of Founder Sam Walton|
|Jim||Walton||$33.6 B||Walton Foundation, Major Dark Money Donor||Wal-Mart Co-Owner Heir – Youngest Son Of Founder Sam Walton|
|Alice||Walton||$32.3 B||Walton Foundation, Major Dark Money Donor||Wal-Mart Co-Owner Heir – Daughter of Founder Sam Walton|
|Carrie Walton Penner (S Robson)||Walton||$31.9 B||Walton Foundation, Major Dark Money Donor||Wal-Mart Co-Owner Heir – Son Of Founder Sam Walton|
|Sam||Zell||$4.8 B||Zell Family Foundation, Teach for America||Equity Group Investments Chairman -real estate – private equity|
|Mark||Zuckerberg||$44.6 B||Zuckerberg Foundation, Newark Project||Facebook Chairman CEO|