And for good reason – 83% of charter schools perform no better, or perform worse than genuinely public schools.

(Source: Stanford University CREDO Report, 2009, the most comprehensive study of charter schools to date.)

Yet, a small group of wealthy individuals & political lobbyists – a number of them from outside Washington State – still want to push charters on our state.

They paid $3 million to get this controversial idea on the ballot this November, hiring professional signature gatherers — not volunteers — and they continue to pour large amounts of money into the campaign. To date, they have spent over $8 million.

Clearly the push to bring charter schools to our state is NOT a grassroots effort.



Bill Gates

Co-Chair, The Gates Foundation,

Chairman & co-founder of Microsoft, Inc.

Resident of Washington

Contribution to I-1240: $3.053 million

Alice Walton

Wal-Mart heiress, daughter of Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, Inc.

Resident of Arkansas

Contribution to I-1240: $1.7 million

Reed Hastings

CEO of Netflix, Inc., California,

Member of national strategy board for Rocketship Education, Inc. (a charter school company)

Recent member of Microsoft, Inc. board of directors

Investor & member of board of directors, DreamBox Online Learning

Resident of California

Contribution to I-1240:  $100,000

Paul Allen

Chairman of Vulcan, Inc. Co-founder of Microsoft, Inc.

Resident of Washington

Contribution to I-1240:  $100,000

Connie Ballmer

Married to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Member of advisory board, Stand for Children, Inc., Washington

Resident of Washington

Contribution to I-1240: $500,000 [Updated from original amount of $100,000]

Nick Hanauer

Venture capitalist

Resident of Washington

Contribution to I-1240:  $1 million

Eli Broad

Venture philanthropist / financier

Resident of California

Contribution to I-1240:  $100,000 [Updated]

Anne Dinning

Managing Director

D.E. Shaw & Co. Investment Management

Co-founder of Turnaround for Children

Resident of New York

Contribution to I-1240:  $250,000

Michael Wolf (married to Anne Dinning)

Co-founder of Turnaround for Children

Resident of New York

Investment in I-1240: $250,000

Mike & Jackie Bezos

Parents of Amazon, Inc. founder Jeff Bezos

Investment in I-1240: $750,000

Shannon Campion

Executive Director-Stand for Children, Washington

An Oregon-based national political lobbying operation bankrolled by the Gates Foundation (see here, here and here).  (Here Stand for Children’s CEO boast about its lobbying and union-busting tactics: Jonah Edelman Spills the Oligarchs’ Blueprint for Crushing the Teaching Profession)


Concerned parents, teachers, Democrats and voters, including: the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, El Centro de la Raza, Parents Across America, Seattle, Spokane and Tri-Cities chapters, Washington State PTA, the Washington Educations Association, American Federation of Teachers, Washington, Parents and Friends for Tacoma Public Schools, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, Tacoma School Board, Riverview School Board, Renton School Board, Eatonville School Board, Evergreen School Board, Franklin Pierce School Board, Goldendale School Board, Onion Creek School Board, Seattle Public School Board, Seattle Public School superintendent Jose Banda, 1st District Democrats, 5th District Democrats, 10th District Democrats, 11th District Democrats, 21st District Democrats, 22nd District Democrats, 23rd District Democrats, 27th District Democrats, 32nd District Democrats, 33rd District Democrats, 34th District Democrats, 36th District Democrats, 37th District Democrats, 39th District Democrats, 40th District Democrats, 41st District Democrats, 43rd District Democrats, 45th District Democrats, 46th District Democrats, 48th District Democrats, King County Democrats, Pierce County Democrats, Lewis County Democrats, Skagit County Democrats, Mason Country Democrats, Whatcom Country Democrats. (For a complete list, see: No on I-1240 and People for Our Public Schools.)

VOTE NO on I-1240



-sue p.


Well-funded charter-school initiative has nearly enough signatures to make ballot, Brian Rosenthal, Seattle Times

Bill Gates, other billionaires funding charter effort in Washington state, Valerie Strauss, N.Y. Times

Bill Gates & the Daughter of Walmart Founder Sam Walton Donate Big Bucks

Big Money Pushing for Wash. Charter Schools; Gates out in Front

Pro-Charter Forces Now over $8M

Charter School Scandals

No on I-1240

People for Our Public Schools

This post has been updated to reflect the additional funds and contributors that were added after initial publication. The final total of private funding for the Yes on I-1240 initiative reached around $11 million, outspending the NO on I-1240 campaigns by 10-1. — sue p.


  1. I’m sorry about the second-to-last paragraph in my prior comment. I meant to say that the ones with temerity are the billionaires, not the certified and licensed educators of the public schools of Seattle. Ambiguity is one of many hazards due to overly lengthy, rant-like comments full of indignation. I’m sorry about that, though I am also sincere in what I expressed in my prior comment.

  2. I just don’t understand the motivation for this. The public school systems in the U.S.A. gave me an excellent education. My mother and two aunts were public school teachers. My mother tried teaching at a charter school in Arizona, and said it was just miserable. The educational standards at private and charter schools are by no means historically better than public schools. The only exceptions are (were?) Roman Catholic parochial schools and Philips Exeter, Andover, Choate etc. I don’t see these billionaire philanthropists rushing to donate money so that more children can attend any of those schools!

    Also, more relevant: Why do these individuals think that they know what is better for the education of the school children of the Seattle area than the parents and trained, certified educators of the area? Alice Walton knows how to run Walmart’s, Bill Gates and Paul Allen know high technology and Microsoft, hedge funder’s know hedge funding etc. None of them know what’s best for public school education programs. The people who run the public schools of Seattle and elsewhere are NOT collectively misguided, corrupt, irrational etc. They are often underfunded though, constrained by nutty state legislatures where there is no state tax to pay for education etc. Be that as it may, why do they have the temerity to oppose what local education boards want, AND what local parents themselves want for their children?! From what I’ve read, there wasn’t a huge groundswell of interest by parents in this proposition 1204.

    Contrast 1204 with what the Gates Foundation did for public libraries. I worked for a public library in south Florida about 7 years ago. The Gates Foundation donated new computers, paper and printers. There were no stipulations (only that we maintain them no less often than we maintained are other equipment) or usage restrictions. It was a wonderful bequest because it worked within the existing fabric of society, the public library. It didn’t “disrupt” it, nor undermine it.

    1. Ceres,

      The Seattle public libraries have to close during the month to stay within their decreased budget. That’s ironic because the students who Gates purports to want to help are being hurt by not having access to the library after school.

      Many students use the libraries after school because they don’t have a computer at home or need a safe place to do homework or receive free tutoring and yet I don’t see Gates making an effort to help our public libraries stay open in Seattle. Instead he’s been pouring money into Seattle to open an office for TFA, Inc which cost him $10M and then spent money on the I1240 campaign.

      It’s dumb and keeps getting dumber.

  3. Thanks for the information.

    The backing of this initiative makes it perfectly clear what’s going on in education and it’s not pretty. If anyone had any doubts, there shouldn’t be at this point about whose determining what education should look like or how profitable it should be.

    When out-of-towners with money and the wealthy in Seattle can determine education policy with no input from parents and educators, something is very wrong, particularly because none of these people have had any experience teaching in a public school and more than likely don’t have children in public school.

    No skin in the game for them but lots of profits. Oh yeah, and the smug satisfaction for some of them thinking they are helping the poor little black children in Seattle, Renton and beyond.


  4. A few updates/additions:
    Eli Broad gave $200k
    Doris Fisher gave $100k
    Connie Ballmer gave a total of $500k (she made an additional contribution on 10/10)

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