Martin Levine writes in the Nonprofit Quarterly about the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, expressing his concerns about transparency and democratic values.

The concern has been that in structuring such a large commitment as an LLC rather than as a trust or another form of charitable gift, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg upset the norms that have protected the public interest. In an earlier NPQ story, I raised this concern directly, writing that What Zuckerberg and Chan have done is more an act of investing in themselves than a decision to give away their assets. It privatizes the way these funds will be directed and minimizes the public’s control of how charitable dollars are spent. In a time when there is a growing concentration of wealth in the United States, as illustrated by a study recently published by the D.C.-based Institute for Policy Studies, the difference this makes presents a great danger to our nation’s civil society in general and to the nonprofit sector.

Levine asks the important questions about CZI:

Will Chan and Zuckerberg see the value of openness and democracy? Will they recognize the difference between the public and private sectors? Or as successful entrepreneurs, will they see no need for public checks and balances? With each step forward by CZI it appears that they see themselves as capable of balancing public and private interests with little input from the public. They are asking us to trust their good intent and their ability to protect the common good. Despite their being smart, successful, and generous, this does not bode well.

This young couple is worth about $50 billion, more or less. Because of Z’s success as a tech entrepreneur, many fear that CZI will put more money into “personalized learning,” meaning “depersonalized learning,” or replacing human teachers with machines. As with all such projects started by billionaires, we wonder, who elected them to redesign our public schools?

Open the article to see the picture of Mark Z.

I don’t mean to engage in “lookism,” but I can’t help but think “middle school” when I see him.