One of the themes of my new book SLAYING GOLIATH is that billionaires are disrupting education by buying control of school districts and states. That, in conjunction with the federal government’s mean-spirited and useless mandate for annual standardized testing (no high-performing nation tests every child every year in grades 3-8), has posed a mortal threat to public schools.

TIME magazine published an article showing how one of our best known billionaires, Michael Bloomberg, has undermined democracy by buying local school board races and making it impossible for local people to compete with his spending.

The article begins:

School board elections are usually local affairs, with candidates soliciting money from neighbors at pizza parties and dragging along friends to knock on doors and ask for votes.

That’s what Chris Jackson expected when he decided to run for the school board in Oakland, Calif., in 2016. He’d previously been elected to the board of the City College of San Francisco and thought he knew how to build the ground game to win in Oakland. He started gathering endorsements—from the state superintendent of public schools and city council members and the Alameda County Democratic Party—and began raising money, feeling optimistic about his chances. By October, he’d raised almost $12,000. But Jackson did not plan for Michael Bloomberg.

In October of 2016, a few weeks before the election, Bloomberg gave $300,000 to the political action committee sponsored by Go Public Schools Advocates, an Oakland-based nonprofit that supports charter schools. The committee, Families and Educators for Public Education, then spent $153,000 in support of James Harris, Jackson’s opponent. Dwarfed by funding, Jackson watched as the PAC paid for web ads and campaign literature and phone banking for Harris, and then as it posted an attack ad about Jackson on Facebook. “It’s so disappointing to work hard, gather volunteers, and then see an out-of-towner like Bloomberg drop hundreds of thousands of dollars and just win through no effort but money,” Jackson, a special-education teacher in Oakland, says.

Bloomberg was not the only donor to Families and Educators for Public Education, but his $300,000 stands out. In the campaign-finance records, there are pages upon pages of donors who gave $10 or $25 apiece; the second-biggest contribution on the filing in which Bloomberg’s donation was disclosed was $250 from a retiree. “There’s no way outsiders should have more speech in Oakland than the actual residents and voters do,” Jackson says.

A couple of years ago, the Network for Public Education Action published a report documenting how billionaires are hijacking local and state school board elections. They flood the races with money, making it impossible for a local person to compete. In most cases, they buy elections in districts and states where they are not residents. There are also organizations like Democrats for Education Reform (hedge fund managers) who bundle money and make huge donations from their members who also do not live in the districts.

Bloomberg is not the only billionaire playing this anti-democratic game. There are also the Walton family, Eli Broad, Bill Gates, Doris Fisher (Banana Republic and the GAP), John Arnold (ex-Enron), and Reed Hastings (Netflix).

What is the goal of all this money? Electing school board members who are committed to opening new charters and fighting any accountability for existing charters.

Say it for what it is: It is an attack on our democracy by the monied elite. It allows them to buy what they want, instead of respecting voters’ wishes.

The principle of one man, one vote dies when money swamps elections.

As a postscript, may I express my delight to see the new TIME coverage of education. We used to get adoring portraits of Michelle Rhee and attacks on teachers from TIME. No more. Now they are looking at the attack on democracy by billionaires.