Jeb Bush created the “Foundation for Educational Excellence” with two goals in mind. First, to burnish his credentials as a “reformer.” Second, to serve as a vehicle for advocating vouchers, charters, online learning, and high-stakes accountability.
Peter Greene writes that we now know who contributed large sums to Jeb’s FEE. We may safely assume that they shared Jeb’s policy goals.
It is not an exact list in that donors are organized by ranges. So we know that Bloomberg donated somewhere between $1.2 million and $2.4 million, which is quite a margin of error. But it’s still a chunk of change, either way.
Joining Bloomberg Philanthropies in the Over a Cool Million Club are these folks, a completely unsurprising list:
Walton Family Foundation (between $3.5 mill and over $6 mill)
B&M Gates (between $3 mill and over $5 mill)
Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation (between $1.6 mill and $3.25 mill)
News Corporation (between $1.5 mill and $3 mill)
GE Foundation (between $2.5 mill and over $3 mill)
Helmsley Trust (at least $2 mill)
The Might Have Hit a Million Club includes
The Broad Foundation
Jacqueline Hume Foundation
Carnegie Corporation of New York
The Arnold Foundation
Beyond those, we find Florida businesses and a fair sampling of folks who have a stake in the FEE mission, like McGraw Hill and Renaissance Learning.
For the most part, it is a familiar list of billionaires and mere multimillionaires. What Greene notes is that there is no evidence of a grassroots base for Jeb’s activities. It is the same old, same old super-rich people–the 1%, if you will–fattening one of their favorites spokesmen.
Or, as he writes:
The truth about FEE is a reminder– for the gazillionth time– that we have yet to see an actual hard-core full-on grass roots movement in support of reformster policies. It’s also a reminder that if education issues were being decided on merit, or if all the Rich Person money just dried up tomorrow, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
Ed reform is a big delicate rosebush in the middle of the desert, and money is the water that keeps it alive. Shut off the water, and it’s done.
Since there have been no positive results for any of the billionaires’ favorite Big Ideas, there is always the chance they will get bored. Never underestimate the power of boredom among the glitterati.