Who is Jeff Bezos? Jeff Bezos founded Amazon. He is a billionaire. He loves charters and privatization of schools. In 2013, he bought The Washington Post, which had been a bastion of liberal thought under the ownership of the Graham family.


Bezos did not introduce charter-love and teacher-bashing to the Washington Post. While the news staff always played it straight, the Post editorial board was madly in love with Michelle Rhee during her stormy tenure. In their eyes, Rhee could do no wrong. She was their Joan of Arc. Even now, after a decade of Rhee-Henderson control, the Post still worships Rhee, as this article by editorial page editor Fred Hiatt showed.


When Bezos bought the Post in 2013, investigative journalist Lee Fang revealed in The Nation that Bezos is a generous supporter of school privatization.


Lee Fang wrote:


“There’s one area where Bezos has been hyper-active, but it is largely unknown to the general public: education reform. A look at the Bezos Family Foundation, which was founded by Jackie and Mike Bezos but is financed primarily by Jeff Bezos, reveals a fairly aggressive effort in recent years to press forward with a neoliberal education agenda:


• The Bezos Foundation has donated to Education Reform Now, a nonprofit organization that funds attack advertisements against teachers’ unions and other advocacy efforts to promote test-based evaluations of teachers. Education Reform Now also sponsors Democrats for Education Reform.


• The Bezos Foundation provided $500,000 to NBC Universal to sponsor the Education Nation, a media series devoted to debating high-stakes testing, charter schools and other education reforms.


• The Bezos Foundation provided over $100,000 worth of Amazon stock to the League of Education Voters Foundation to help pass the education reform in Washington State. Last year, the group helped pass I-1240, a ballot measure that created a charter school system in Washington State. In many states, charter schools open the door for privatization by inviting for-profit charter management companies to take over public schools that are ostensibly run by nonprofits.


Other education philanthropy supported by the Bezos Foundation include KIPP, Teach for America and many individual charter schools, including privately funded math and science programs across the country.”


Lee Fang says there is one good result of Bezos taking over the Post. It used to be controlled by for-profit Kaplan University and avoided negative coverage of the sham industry.


He wrote:


“For now, the change in ownership will probably only benefit the Post’s education coverage, given the newspaper’s long relationship with Kaplan, which helped prop up the paper’s finances for years while the Post either largely ignored the issue of for-profit colleges or sent its executives to Capitol Hill to lobby against better oversight of the industry.


“Part of the ugly history of the Post is its reliance on a predatory for-profit college called Kaplan University. Though Washington Post blogger Lydia DePillis seemed to whitewash this relationship yesterday by referring to Kaplan as only a “lucrative test prep business,” in reality, Kaplan University was one of worst for-profit colleges in the country.”