How do you get charter schools on the ballot in a state that has previously rejected them three times by popular vote? You buy the signatures to get the initiative on the ballot.
Here are the amounts of money given to the charter school movement in Washington State:
- $1,000,000 (Bill Gates, Microsoft)
- $600,000 (Alice Walton, Wal-Mart)
- $500,000 (Jeff Bezos family, Amazon)
- $450,000 (Nick Hanauer, venture capitalist)
Now that’s $2.55 million dollars from essentially four people (granted, Jeff Bezos got $50,000 from his parents). When popular opinion is not with you, buy the signatures as the leaders of the signature gatherers did in Washington State.
The signature gatherers were often paid on average between $1 and $2 per signature gathered. One gatherer claimed to have gathered over 9,000 signatures!
When I asked a gatherer at my local Safeway why I should sign up, she told me that it would save our schools. When I asked “how,” she didn’t know. Sad.
How about those donors take the $3.3 million dollars given to this initiative and instead hire 550 new teachers to lower class size and target the neediest of students?