“School Choice” PACs and Texas Public Education

I need the #txed folks listening intently. If you are a public ed advocate, you need to realize where dollars attempting to privatize education are coming from and who is getting them. This election and this next session are going to be battles, and public education is a focus.

We will start with the American Federation for Children. AFC is a national advocacy organization promoting school choice, with a specific focus on advocating for school vouchers and scholarship tax credit programs.

American Federation for Children was founded by Betsy DeVos, who ran the org until 2016 when she became Secretary of Education. She handed off the reins to William Oberndorf. AFC has created Texas Federation for Children and given money to the Charter Schools Now PAC.

Here are the contributors to the Texas Federation for Children PAC from 1/1/20–9/24/20.

  • $830k William Oberndorf, who runs American Federation for Children
  • $37.5k Tim Dunn (of Empower Texans)
  • $18k AFC
  • $5.5k Charter Schools Now
  • $5k Karl Rove

7 total contributors

Here is a connection map of who Texas Federation for Children gave money to this year. It’s a whole bunch of pretty far right Republican legislators and candidates, the Charter Schools Now PAC, and Democrats Eddie Lucio Jr (SD27) and Anna Eastman (HD148).

Now let’s shift focus to the Charter Schools Now PAC and their contributors from 1/1/20–9/24/20.

  • $475k Alice Walton (Wal-Mart)
  • $176k Educational Equity PAC (more on them later)
  • $110k Richard Weekley (housing developer and Texans for Lawsuit Reform)

61 total contributors

Who is Charter Schools Now PAC giving to? It’s 7 of the same people the Texas Federation for Children was giving to, and then another swath of mostly Republican legislators and candidates (including Cason, Krause, Tinderholt, Goldman, & Cook), with a few Democrats folded in.

I mentioned the Educational Equity PAC giving to the Charter Schools Now PAC. Who is behind that PAC? It’s just two people: — John Arnold (American billionaire, former hedge fund manager, and former natural gas trader, runs Arnold Ventures) — Reed Hastings (Netflix)

Alice Walton is the biggest donor to Charter Schools Now, but I went looking to see where else she contributed. Answer is Legacy 44, a PAC “inspired by the Obama legacy”

What does the donor chart to the Legacy 44 PAC look like?

  • $225k Alice Walton
  • $164.7k Educational Equity PAC

And no, Larkin Tackett is not related

14 total contributors

Who is the Legacy 44 PAC giving to? Only Democrats. Anna Eastman, Liz Campos, Harold Dutton Jr, and on 9/24, $100k to the Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee.

Why does all of the above bother me? I’m seeing three different PACs, all targeting different groups (mostly far right Republicans, mostly middle right Republicans, Democrats) against public ed, and when you pull back the curtain, it’s just a handful of the same billionaires pulling the strings. #txed #txlege

I chart Texas Politics at christackettnow.com and write about things that matter (to me at least) whenever the muse hits.