7.1 How Billionaires Buy Elections
It is not enough that billionaires like Bill Gates are allowed to create illegal monopolies and overcharge customers and then allowed to evade paying state or federal taxes on their illegal profits through fake money laundering schemes like the Gates Foundation. It is not enough that the main stream media writes garbage fake news articles that favor billionaires by a margin of ten to one. Billionaires also invest directly in marketing campaigns aimed at deceiving voters into trading our public controlled public schools for billionaire controlled charter schools. A good example of this is the 2013 Charter School Initiative in Washington State. We have previously covered the harm and corruption of charter schools. Here we will look at how Bill Gates was able to use his extreme wealth to pass an initiative to bring charter schools here in Washington State.
Bill Gates and his billionaire friends forced charter schools on students in Washington State despite the fact that charter schools in other states have robbed tax payers of billions of dollars in fraud and corruption and despite the fact that diverting public dollars to private for profit charter schools is a clear violation of the Washington State Constitution and despite the fact that charter schools had been previously defeated in public votes in Washington State three times. Bill's charter school initiative eventually prevailed in a very close election in 2012. Here are the election results:
Out of three million votes cast, Bill was able to fool just enough people to vote for this scam to have it pass by a fraction of one percent of those who bothered to vote in this election. However, the real story was not the outcome of the election, it was how the outcome was obtained. For that story, we first need to go to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission.
Direct Spending on the Charter School Initiative
Even to get the charter school initiative on the ballot, Bill Gates and his billionaire friends paid petition signature gathers an average of $6 per signature to gather more than 300,000 signatures in June 2012 – for a cost of nearly $2 million.
The “No on Initiative 1240” Campaign raised $26,000 and spent $24,000. The “People for our Public Schools” committee raised $701,000 and spent $701,000. The total spent opposing the Charter School Initiative was $725,000. But this amount was dwarfed by what the billionaires spent to pass the initiative. The “Yes on 1240” group raised and spent $11,401,000. The billionaires outspent teachers and parents by a margin of nearly 16 to 1 just in direct spending. Thus, it was not an election. It was more like a bidding war.
Let's look at the major donors for the charter school initiative. Bill Gates was the biggest promoter tossing in $3.6 million. Another Microsoft billionaire, Paul Allen, tossed in 1.6 million. A few other billionaires including Alice Walton, Nick Hanauer, Steve Ballmer, Mike Bezos, Bruce McCaw and Eli Broad tossed in the rest. Billionaires will always win bidding wars. But even this is the tip of the iceberg compared to what the billionaires really spent to pass this initiative.
Indirect Spending on the Charter Schools Initiative
The billionaire controlled media produced articles in favor of charter school over articles pointing out drawbacks of charter schools by a rate of 20 to 1. This included the State's biggest newspaper, the Seattle Times, endorsing the initiative and pumping out dozens of articles (which were nothing more than “ads”) on the benefits of charter schools and/or the shortcomings of public schools. But the real heavy lifting in passing the Charter School Initiative was done by two Bill Gates funded fake “grassroots” groups called the League of Education Voters (LEV) and Stand for Children (SFC). Enter LEV into the Gates Foundation Grants Search Box and you will see 17 grants totaling $12 million.
What did the $12 million to LEV buy?
LEV used the money to hire dozens of fake “education advocates” who went around Washington state in the two years preceding the Initiative to nearly every one of hundreds of school district PTA groups with slide shows and handouts bashing teachers, condemning public schools and advocating “change.” I attended several of these hour long propaganda sessions. Those giving the presentations claimed to be “concerned parents.” They never mentioned that they were paid by Bill Gates through LEV to travel around the state lying to parents. This group also attended PTA regional and statewide conventions and basically took over the Washington State PTA – a group that claims to advocate for and represent more than one million parents and has a massive email list to spread the vicious billionaire propaganda to unsuspecting parents. LEV was not the only front group promoting the charter schools initiative in Washington State in 2012. Enter “Stand for Children” into the Gates Foundation Grant Search box and you will see 10 grants totaling about $10 million
What did the $10 million to SFC buy?
Stand for Children worked side by side with LEV to push Gates propaganda to parents in meetings around Washington State – also focusing on the Washington State, regional and local PTA meetings. The goal was to create a dissatisfaction with public schools in our State. No mention was made at these meetings of the fact that school funding in Washington State had plunged from 11th in the nation to 47th in the nation – or that our State now has the highest class sizes in the nation. Instead, the focus was on “failing schools.” Ironically, most parents really liked their own schools and their own teachers. So the real scare tactic was comparing how schools in the US do not “compete” with other schools around the world. The message was that the reason there was no jobs in the US is because our schools were failed to compete on the world market – not because billionaires had outsourced all of our jobs to sweat shops in China.
Just to make sure that LEV and SFC received a warm welcome at Washington State PTA meetings, Bill Gates also bribed the PTA. Enter PTA into the Gates Foundation Search box and you will see 5 donations for about $3 million. Here is one to the Washington State PTA in 2011 – the year before the Charter School Initiative was put on the ballot in Washington State.
The “key policy” Bill Gates was pushing at the Washington State PTA was charter schools. When you add up the $2 million for signature gatherers with the $11.4 million in direct spending and the $12 million to LEV and the $10 million to SFC, the grand total Bill Gates really spent buying the charter school election was about $35 million. Thus, Bill Gates really outspent parents and teachers by a margin of 50 to 1.
Of course, $35 million was just a drop in the bucket to what Bill Gates was really spending to promote his campaign to privatize our public schools. The really big money was going towards buying our State legislature and our national Congress. When you add in the millions of dollars that Bill Gates and his billionaire friends spend buying elections for corporate candidates in Washington State, the money spent to bring charter schools to Washington State is probably 100 times greater than the money spent opposing them. We do not have space in this book to truly cover all of the political campaigns paid for by Bill Gates. So we will just focus on a couple of Bill Gates political cronies here in Washington State to show you how the process works.
Bill Gates Buys Political Hacks in Both Major Parties
People think that our elections are between the Democratic and Republican parties. But really elections are between the billionaires who own the leadership of both major parties and the people who have almost no one representing their interests and the interest of their children. As an example of this, we will look at two Bill Gates backed politicians here in Washington State, Ross Hunter and Chad Magendanz. Here is a chart comparing the two politicians.
When you get down to the details, there is really no difference between these two politicians other than the fact that one has a D by his name and the other has an R by his name. They both spend a great deal of time promoting the billionaire agenda at PTA meetings across Washington State – along with their backers from LEV and SFC.
They also both took an oath to “uphold the Washington State Constitution.” And they both were found guilty of violating our State Constitution by the Washington State Supreme Court in September 2014. They both voted to divert billions of dollars away from public schools and into billions of dollars in corporate tax breaks. The prime beneficiary of these corporate tax breaks is none other than Bill Gates.
Chad's background is working on nuclear submarines while his opponent in the 2010 and 2012 elections, David Spring, has a background in education and child development. “Putting Chad in charge of the education of our children is as dangerous as putting me in charge of a nuclear submarine!” David Spring M. Ed.
But because Ross and Chad have a huge amount of money to pay for their re-election campaigns and the endorsement of the Seattle Times and dozens of paid campaign staff members paid for by Bill Gates through LEV and SFC, both Ross and Chad manage to be re-elected and stay in office.
Bill Gates does not have to write a check to Ross Hunter or Chad Magendanz to help them win elections. When you have as much money as Bill Gates, you simply buy an entire organization (or two) with dozens of staff -such as LEV and SFC - to elect your cronies to the legislature.
Bill Gates uses his extreme wealth to manipulate voters like puppets on a string in his quest for global domination.
This is how Bill's Cycle of Bribery, Corruption and Kickbacks works:
Everyone wins - except the tax payers who have to pay higher taxes to offset the billions in tax breaks to Bill Gates – and the children who suffer with fewer teachers and larger class sizes due to the billions diverted away from public schools and into tax breaks for Bill Gates.
Washington Superintendent Randy Dorn turns to the dark side
In 2008, the voters in Washington State booted out the former Superintendent of Public Instruction, Terry Bergeson and elected Randy Dorn based on his promise to get rid of the unfair and hated WASL test and replace it with a fairer and shorter Measurement of Student Progress (MSP) test. Unfortunately, after only a couple of years with the MSP test, Randy was persuaded to adopt the Common Core SBAC test – which is even worse than the old WASL monster in terms of the number of students it will unfairly label as failures. Perhaps Randy's change in position has something to do with Randy being elected to a trade group called CCSSO – a group that Bill Gates has given more than $50 million to “help promote Common Core.”. It is hard to turn down that kind of money. Randy says he is worried about the one percent of kids who move from one state to another having consistent standards. What he fails to mention is that this change will severely harm the other 99 percent of our kids who now will be severely harmed by having our standards written by Wall Street consultants rather than Washington State teachers.
But what is more troubling to understand is the sudden change in Randy Dorn's position on charter schools. Before and during the 2012 charter school election, while Randy was running for re-election, Randy repeatedly said that “the charter school initiative was contrary to the Washington State constitution.” Randy also assured those of us who supported him that he would file a lawsuit to overturn the initiative if it passed. Naturally, after the charter school initiative barely passed by the slimmest of margins in November, 2012, those of us who supported Randy assumed he would file a lawsuit. But on January 8 2013, days after Randy was sworn in for a second term, he announced that he had decided against filing a lawsuit. Then in an interview on July 28th and again on September 4 2014, Dorn said that he was now in favor of charter schools!
This left the teachers union as the only group that sued to enforce our State Constitution. In December 2013, a King County judge agreed with the teachers union that charter schools are contrary to the Washington State Constitution because the Washington State Constitution limits spending tax dollars on normal public schools under the control of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and a locally elected school board. On October 28 2014, the Washington Supreme Court accepted the issue and will make a ruling whether to uphold the trial court sometime in 2015. For the issues in this case, see League of Women Voters et al versus State of Washington.
Randy Dorn also supports using unreliable student test scores to fire teachers
Perhaps the most shocking part of the corporate takeover of public schools is the use of unreliable student test scores to rate and fire teachers. The research against this is overwhelming. It is unfair to teachers and unfair to students. Yet in 2014 and again in 2015, Randy Dorn promoted bills in the Washington State legislature to require the use of student test scores in ranking and firing teachers.
“Using state tests as one measure in teacher effectiveness gives us consistency in evaluations.” Randy Dorn, Seattle Times Editorial Feb 13 2014
Using student test scores in all teacher evaluations in Washington State would provide consistency. The evaluations would be consistently unreliable!
State law already says that student test data must be used as part of teacher and principal evaluations, but school districts can choose which tests they will use: school-based, classroom-based, district-based or statewide. After the Legislature failed to make using state tests mandatory, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan pulled Washington’s waiver. Dorn said he plans to push legislation in 2015 that would say school districts must use applicable state testing data in teacher evaluations.
(Randy Dorn, Tacoma News Tribute November 30 2014)
The WEA said this about Randy Dorn's Teacher Evaluation bill:
“WEA members believe the top-down, unproven approach to teacher evaluations promoted by Sen. Litzow, Supt. Dorn and US Education Secretary Arne Duncan is driven by political considerations rather than what research shows – and teachers know – will benefit students and teachers. Instead of playing politics with our kids’ education, the politicians should focus on what would really benefit students – fully funding K-12 education.”
Will Washington State suffer the same fate as California, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and New York and see our public schools destroyed by the cancer of charter schools?
The first charter school to start in Washington State, in September 2014, was not open more than a month when it suffered from a series of disasters – lacking essential staff and suffering from a huge turnover. This will hopefully help voters better understand that charter schools are not the miracle cure their promoters have claimed they are.
In addition, Bill Gates only won in 2012 by the slightest of margins – despite spending more than $35 million trying to fool voters into supporting his charter school scam.
Because parents and teachers are turning away from Common Core standards and high stakes high failure rate tests, there is the hope that they will see that these scams are connected to the Charter school scam and eventually turn against the entire corporate ed reform program.
Finally, the dramatic turn of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in favor of the SBAC test – a test that will fail more than half of all Washington State students – makes it likely that the public will be supporting a replacement in the 2016 election. One can only hope that the replacement will show more concern for the well being of our children and less concern for the well being of Bill Gates.
What is Next?
We will next look at the scam that led to the start of this book – the Pearson Takeover of the GED Test. Why should public school parents care about a private for profit takeover of the GED? The first reason is that Pearson is using the same bait and switch Common Core testing scams that will soon be inflicted on K12 kids. The second reason is that Pearson “raising the bar” on high school drop outs will increase the number of prison inmates by more than 50,000 in the US – costing US tax payers hundreds of millions of dollars in additional prison costs.