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Where the Philanthropy $$$ Go and Why You Should Care

by Susan Ohanian

Reminder: Money spent by "philanthropies" is money shielded from tax collection, so money that should go into public coffers becomes money for the filthy rich to play with--at public expense. See Kenneth Saltman's The Gift of Education: Public Education and Venture Philanthropy. I call it vulture philanthropy.

How a comment can start with an article about Charles Schwab and end up with Linda Darling-Hammond, with a pass at ALEC along the way, is a small example of the power of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Schwab is described by USA Today as one of many successful dyslexics and perhaps the richest, with a net worth of more than $3 billion. In an interview he said:

I don't read books; I listen to books on tape. Thank goodness for all the new communications devices such as point and click. Literacy is a fairly new thing for the human race. We've been around thousands of years. Literacy has only been around for a couple of hundred.

Q: How did you ever graduate from Stanford University?

A: I majored in economics. The first two years I struggled because there were so many subjects. I flunked English twice. They just passed me through the third time. I got an F in French. I had a tough enough time with the first language. When I came out of public high school I thought I could charm my teachers. I found out in college I couldn't.

I've long had the theory that once you get into one of these elite schools, they keep you--no matter what. Even if you can't read. After three tries, they "pass you through." Is this why Ivy Leagues and their West Coast cousin have better graduation rates than community colleges?

I've never seen any evidence that Aspire Public Schools and KIPP, two big recipients of Schwab largesse, are able to accommodate and help dyslexics. But if you do an Internet search with Aspire Public Schools and dyslexia as your terms, here is the first page that comes up.

Schwab also told USA Today that his personal hero is Ronald Reagan.

From the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation website.

Organizations We Support

Note: Schwab supplies hot links to "page not found" for many of these entities. I searched out the boards and funders for a few. Lots of Stanford connections. And worse. Keep reading.

Public Charter Schools and Digital Learning Initiatives
Aspire Public Schools
California Charter Schools Association
Charter School Growth Fund
Envision Education
Expeditionary Learning
Innovate Public Schools
KIPP Bay Area
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
New Schools Venture Fund -- Oakland Fund
New Schools Venture Fund -- Learning to Teach Fund
Rocketship Education They're in the news. See Stop Rocketship
Silicon Schools Fund
Summit Public Schools

Human Capital
KIPP Foundation
Richard Barth, President,CEO, KIPP Foundation

Richard Barth was made CEO of the KIPP Foundation in December of 2005. Over the past eight years, he has overseen the significant growth of the network from 45 to 141 schools, dramatically expanded KIPP's leadership development programs, advocated for high performing charter schools on Capitol Hill, and secured more than $260 million in new, long-term philanthropic commitments, including more than $100 million from the federal government.

Barth came to KIPP from Edison Schools, where he served as President of District Partnerships and managed school partnerships serving more than 40,000 students. Prior to joining Edison, Richard was one of the founding staff members of Teach For America. He earned a BA in American History from Harvard University, and is an Aspen Institute-New Schools Fellow. He currently sits on the board of directors of 50CAN, The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems, General Assembly, and ROADS Network Charter Schools. Barth was named a 2014 Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year and Harvard University's Chief Marshal for 2014 Commencement ceremonies.

Ohanian Comment: I'll refrain from any more bios. Just couldn't resist that one. Most of the hot links I provide go to board members or funders.

Human Capital continued.
New Leaders Inc.
New Teacher Center
Teach for America -- Bay Area
Teach for America -- Hawaii

Advocacy and Ideas
Children Now ( Here is their statement supporting Common Core)
Foundation for Excellence in Education
New Schools for New Orleans
San Mateo County of Education
Stand for Children Leadership Center Jonah Edelman is still there.
Students First Institute Michelle Rhee is still there.
Thomas B. Fordham Institute Would you believe Rod Paige????
Despite all the nasty things Michael Petrilli Tweets about her, Diane Ravitch is "Trustee Emerita" and Chicago's Barbara Byrd-Bennett is a trustee at a Common Core partner organization. AND ALEC is a partner.

Let me repeat: ALEC is a partner of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. This shows me how fast I can forget what I knew. January 23, 2014, Edushyster revealed that Fordham tied the knot with ALEC last summer at the network's August board meeting (see p. 38), in an *intimate* and *low key* ceremony confined to a small group of *close friends.*

The Center for American Progress is also a partner of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Does this make them kissin' kin with ALEC--or just a second cousin twice removed? I've issued plenty of warnings about the Center for American Progress, an outfit the press chooses to identify as 'liberal.' They wrote Senator Obama's first speech on education, in which he outlined his current test-and-destroy policy. When Democrats are involved, the media often camouflage corporate influence with the label liberal.

Take another look at the partner page and ask yourself what the Center for American Progress is doing traveling with ALEC, Democrats for Education Reform, Alliance for Excellent Education, et al.

It's no surprise that Pearson is listed as a Center for American Progress "supporter" but Alan Bersin as their education expert? And you might be tempted to ask what the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education is doing linking with the Center for American Progress. Other entities they call related organizations might send a chill or two down your spine. Ask Linda Darling-Hammond. She's the faculty director--when she's not busy as senior research advisor for Smarter Balanced testing. And then there's Stanford Understanding Language project to push the Common Core.

The answer is probably right here with the funders.

And on and on. Start on the money entanglements and it's hard to stop. The relationship is money. And more money. And clearly, this money buys policy.

Meanwhile, back with the Schwab Foundation. Kristi Kimball is the Schwab foundation Executive Director. During the Clinton administration, she was at the US Department of Education. She does not bring us full circle back to Stanford. Her BA is from Dartmouth and her MPA from Princeton.

Here's the article that set all this off:
What's Charles Schwab Into? Charter Schools, Of Course
Inside Philanthropy
by Ade Adeniji

Brokerage firm founder Charles Schwab rode the emerging wave of online investing to amass client assets of over $2 trillion, and he now has a net worth of $6 billion.

Schwab is one of those people who's been rich for a very long time, since the 1970s, and he's now well along in his philanthropy. The Charles and Helen Schwab Family Foundation (CHSFF) funds in several areas, but of course, being a finance guy Schwab's biggest passion is education and, more specifically, charter schools.

We're not sure why charters and finance billionaires go together like peas and carrots, but we'll save the theorizing for another article. What's notable about Schwab is that he's deeper into this area than many of the more glitzy hedge fund donors who get so much attention.

Perhaps his profile is lower because he's based out West. While he's very much a national funder, with grantmaking that has reached into many states, such as New York and Massachusetts, Schwab's biggest investments have been in California. He was born and raised in the state, got a B.A. and an M.B.A. from Stanford University and Charles Schwab Corporation is headquartered in San Francisco.

Let's take a closer look at what CHSFF has been funding in recent years.

The first thing that jumps out is that the foundation has put money into a pretty broad swath of the usual suspects in the ed reform world. These include charter school chains like Aspire Public Schools and KIPP, and charter advocacy outfits like the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and California Charter Schools Association. CHSFF has also given money to Michelle Rhee's outfit, StudentsFirst.

As well, the foundation is working the human capital side of things, and has put money into Teach for America, The New Teacher Project, and the Stand for Children Leadership Center. Money has also gone for "ideas," with support for the Thomas Fordham Institute among a few other places.

All in all, it's just the sort of diversified portfolio that a finance guy might put together.

A $1 million gift to the Charter School Growth Fund in 2011 stands out, not only because of the size of the gift but also because of its destination. Founded in 2005, the Charter School Growth Fund (CSGF) is a bit like the mother ship of the charter school movement, working to grow and professionalize this alternative ed sector. A lot of the major players in the charter school funding world have given to CSGF, including Walton, Gates, Dell, Bradley, and Fisher. Schwab 's investment here is yet more evidence that it's a core member of the charter cabal.

Running the foundation day-to-day is Kristi Kimball, a veteran of ed philanthropy. She spent eight years at the Hewlett Foundation moving big K-12 money out the door and, earlier, worked in the U.S. Department of Education and held a few other ed jobs inside the Beltway. She has degrees from Dartmouth and Princeton, and has been at the foundation for nearly two years. Schwab is lucky to have her.

Another thing to note in all of this is that Schwab's daughter, Katie Schwab Paige, has been very involved in the foundation. She initially helped develop her parents' giving for children with learning difficulties and these days serves on the board of directors, a position she's held since 2006. Paige has also held prior positions at the Robin Hood Foundation in New York and the Columbia Park Boys and Girls Club in the Bay Area.

So far, this operation isn't giving away giant amounts of money. In 2012, all ed giving CHSFF amounted to $3.7 million.

But, of course, there's more where that came from. Schwab has yet to sign the Giving Pledge but given his track record so far, we're betting that much bigger things lie ahead.

— Susan Ohanian




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