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Carpetbaggers dump $1M more into charter-school campaign




Oct. 26, 2012 — Just this month, Walmart heiress Alice Walton and other out-of-state interests dumped more than $1.1 million into the campaign to allow more state-chartered public schools in Georgia, new campaign finance filings show.

Families for Better Public Schools, the largest of the pro-charter committees, filed papers at noon today showing it had sunk another $1.28 million in October into the campaign for the proposed amendment to Georgia’s constitution. Voters will decide Nov. 6 whether to accept or reject Amendment One, which would allow the state to charter schools over the objections of local school systems.

Walton, the committee’s largest single donor, kicked in $350,000 on top of the $250,000 she’d given previously.

Other big donors disclosed in the committee’s latest filing were:

  • San Francisco billionaire Doris Fisher, widow of The Gap founder Donald Fisher, $250,000
  • Students First, a Washington advocacy group, $250,000
  • Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, $250,000
  • Peter Islands Resort CEO Richard Gaby of Atlanta, $100,000
  • J.C. Huizenga, founder of a national charter-school management firm, $25,000
  • Wall Street investment manager Joe Bridy, $25,000
  • Atlanta developer Tom Cousins, $20,000

All told, Families for Better Public Schools has raised nearly $1.8 million, 77 percent of it from outside Georgia. Corporate donors that stand to gain from amending Georgia’s constitution include K12 Inc. (which has given $100,000), Charter Schools USA ($50,000) and Huizenga’s National Heritage Academies ($75,000).

StudentsFirst and three other Washington-based groups — the American Federation for Children, Americans for Prosperity and — have given $418,000 more to their own committees to promote the charter-school amendment. The federation on Oct. 9 also created another ballot committee that has yet to file a disclosure. (We’ll update all these totals as more disclosures come in over the next few days.)

On top of that, billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, longtime charter-school advocates, donated $92,000 last month to Republicans in the Georgia House and Senate. (Sixteen Democrats shared another $8,500 in contributions from the Koch bros.)

All that cash adds up to about $2.28 million so far to push for the amendment’s passage and implementation. Of that, Georgians accounted for about $410,000, or 18 percent.

If you don’t count the chamber of commerce and the three rich guys (Marcus, Gaby and Cousins), Georgians contributed $30,615 to the cause. That’s 1.4 percent — by any measure, hardly a groundswell of in-state support for the charter amendment.





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4 Responses to “Carpetbaggers dump $1M more into charter-school campaign”

  1. Brian Malloy says:

    The same thing is happening in Pennsylvania. All these rich people are donating money in GA because they know they can make money by running charter schools or use them to push their political agendas. It is a disgrace, and I hope the GA voters are smart enough to vote against this amendment!

  2. greencracker says:

    “Carpetbagger?” Do the carpetbaggers in the metro even know their contemptible status? 😉

  3. dygituljunky says:

    The very list of names and the ratio of out of state funds would make me suspect the motives if I wasn’t already convinced that charter schools are generally a poor model for an educational system. (Less oversight, involved-parent drain from public schools, funding drain from public schools, and other reasons). There are, admittedly, a couple of well done charter programs but generally they’re profit-motivated ventures.

  4. ann wilson says:

    First figure out the motives of your local school officials. Why is this initiative gathering any strength at all? If the public schools were in good shape and moving in healthy direction, why would anyone think of charters? I assume the fraud was cleared up following the recent scandal about test scores. A system that carried that kind of dishonesty to that extreme is bound to need some healing. If it is not taking place it is no wonder that parents are seeking other solutions. The same hysterical pressures that caused the cheating scandal will poison efforts to achieve a vigorous and healthy school system. Parents must look into what the boards and superintendents
    of this entire country are doing and demand a good education for all children. Stop the grade handouts and replace them with intelligent and honest solutions.