Very strange, the large sums of money suddenly appearing in local school board elections, sometimes from wealthy individuals who have no children in the schools or don’t even live in the district. That happened earlier this year in the Dever school board election and is happening now in A New Orleans school board race.

In Oakland, California, two wealthy men have contributed almost $100,000 to the corporate reform slate.

This description comes from a public school parent in Oakland:

Today I learned about two individuals who are attempting to control Oakland’s upcoming school board election with their extraordinary wealth (h/t Jim M.). Their wealth is being funneled by a Political Action Committee that was formed by an organization called GO (Great Oakland) Public Schools. GO, as it is commonly referred to around here, is our local corporate-style ed reform organization. It was founded by a Broad Resident in 2008 after he completed his assignment as the Special Assistant to our three consecutive Broad Superintendents Academy-trained State Administrators.

The Oakland City Clerk website has posted campaign Fair Political Practices Commission forms online. They show that one multimillionaire from Oakland and one octogenarian billionaire from across the Bay in San Francisco have so far contributed a total of $98,900 to GO-PAC (a.k.a. “Families and Educators for Public Education, sponsored by Great Oakland Public Schools in Support of Rosie Torres, James Harris and Jumoke Hinton-Hodge for School Board 2012”). This amount makes up over 80% of the total contributions given to that PAC ($123,175) during the time period between 1/1/2012 and 9/30/2012.

T. Gary Rogers, the former CEO of Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream and an Oakland resident, made two contributions for a total of $49,900. Arthur Rock (b.1926; investor, venture capitalist from San Francisco; net worth $1B) gave $49,000. Those two people have forked out a total of $98,900 to insure that the three candidates endorsed by GO Public Schools get elected to the OUSD school board.

The candidates also each have their own committees that can accept campaign contributions but those war chests ($11K to $19K) are dwarfed by the funds that the GO Political Action Committee will be spending on their behalf.

I’m still learning about PACs and wonder if GO-PAC would be considered a Super PAC (the type that resulted from the Citizens United ruling). Wikipedia says that Super PACs “may engage in unlimited political spending independently of the campaigns. Also unlike traditional PACs, they can raise funds from corporations, unions and other groups, and from individuals, without legal limits.” It seems like this local PAC might fit the definition.

This shocking attempt by two incredibly wealthy individuals to control the local Oakland school board election is completely unprecedented. Meg Whitman’s investment of millions during her 2010 California gubernatorial race didn’t work out so well, so we’ll see what happens here on November 6th.