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Unions’ money opposes charter schools, while charter proponents include wealthy donors

Post by Debbie Cafazzo / The News Tribune on Sep. 11, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
September 11, 2012 5:02 pm

Two unions are the biggest donors to People for Our Public Schools, a committee formed to oppose Washington’s charter school initiative, I-1240, according to reports from the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC).
The initiative appears on the November ballot.

The Washington Education Association (WEA), the state teachers union, pledged $100,000 to the “No” campaign on Sept. 6, while the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents more than 25,000 non-teaching school employees through Public School Employees of Washington, gave $50,000 in August to oppose the charter measure. The anti-1240 campaign has raised more than $188,000 in all, and spent nearly $25,000, according to PDC records.

The pro-charter Yes on 1240 campaign is benefiting from mega-watt donors like Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who has given a total of $1 million to the cause – a school reform effort he has supported nationwide. Other big donors to the charter initiative include Mike and Jackie Bezos of Mercer Island, who together have donated more than $1 milliion, and Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton, of Bentonville, AR, who has given $600,000.

The pro-charter campaign has raised more than $4 million and spent more than $3 million, according to the PDC.

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