Yes, Virginia, there is one billionaire in America who supports public schools, not charter schools.

His name is Charles Butt. He became fabulously wealthy through ownership of a large chain of small-town grocery stores.

He must be a genius because he understands that it makes no sense to create a parallel system of publicly funded but privately managed schools.

Inside Philanthropy writes:

“Texas has the second-highest number of public school students in the U.S., just after California. Some 5 million kids are enrolled in more than 1,000 public school districts around the state. And nowhere is the K-12 population growing faster than in Texas, which is projected to see a 14 percent increase in students enrolled between 2014 and 2026. Already, the state is struggling with teacher shortages and experts believe the problem could get much worse.

“Enter Charles Butt, a Texas grocery mogul with a net worth of over $10 billion, who earlier this month announced his latest push to improve public education in his state, launching a $50 million initiative aimed at teacher training. The grants will provide scholarships for aspiring teachers and technical support for teacher training programs across Texas.

“The gift from Butt, chairman and CEO of the HEB grocery chain, is the latest in a multimillion-dollar effort to improve Texas education. Earlier this year, Butt gave $100 million to establish a leadership institute for school administrators.

“Beyond the size of Butt’s gifts—among the biggest for K-12 in recent years—what’s significant about these commitments is that Butt is not focused on bolstering charter schools or the array of nonprofits that support choice and accountability strategies. Instead, this mega-donor is looking to improve leadership and teaching in the traditional school districts that still educate the vast bulk Texas school children—and will for the foreseeable future.

“Whatever you may think about charter schools, funders have struggled to scale this approach to improving student outcomes. Butt has apparently concluded that his giving will have the greatest impact by bolstering the school system that exists, as opposed to building out a parallel K-12 universe. These days, more top donors seem to be thinking along the same lines as Butt. Even as existing charter funders double down on this strategy, it appears that fewer of the new mega-donors arriving in K-12 are focusing on choice.”

I sure wish I knew who those other “top donors” are. Where are those other “mega-donors”?

Thank God for Charles Butt.

He sees what billionaires like Gates, Broad, and the Waltons don’t: Help the schools where 85-90% of the students are. Do not fund Betsy DeVos’s privatization agenda.