Mapping billionaires and charter schools

By Laurie Bennett

May 7, 2013 at 11:11am

While much of the activism for charter schools occurs at the local and state levels, the money funding the movement is unquestionably national.

The map below shows billionaires at the center who have funded school choice efforts. (The map is better viewed in the large version. Here’s a simplified version, that can serve as a starting point.)

A typical path for donations is for a wealthy individual, through his company or foundation, to give to a state-level organization that advocates for charter schools.

That organization may work for the election of pro-charter officials, or for passage of legislation promoting the ever-burgeoning charter school network.

Such was the case in Washington state last year, where an initiative to allow charter schools attracted contributions from across the country. Among the wealthiest backers were Microsoft billionaires Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Steve Ballmer, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Wal-Mart heir Alice Walton, Gap Inc. co-founder Doris Fisher and KB Home founder Eli Broad.

All gave money to the Washington Coalition for Public Charter Schools, which successfully campaigned for the initiative’s passage. All have supported similar activities around the nation.

The effort is being fought on so many fronts that it creates a tangled map, as exhibited above.

We encourage you to follow individual trails by using the many options in the tool box at the left of the map. You can remove or expand relationships, save maps, and embed them on your own web site or insert them in presentations such as PowerPoint.

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The relationship map to the left is interactive.
• Solid lines are current relations. Dotted lines are former relations.
• Expand items with + signs by double-clicking or by selecting multiple items in the map and pressing the "e" key.
• Move an item in the map by clicking and dragging.
• You can also delete items, separate boxes and save maps. Right-click on the map or select Map Tools for these options.
• Find out more about an item in the map by right-clicking on the item and choosing Information about...
• View map color key.
• This interactive map requires Flash player.

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