PSAT for 10-30-12: Boycott Amazon?

I try to use the first PSAT of the month (when I remember) to identify some of the worst enemies of public education for us to boycott. So far, I’ve gleefully picked on Bill Gates, Penny Pritzker, Bruce Rauner and Walmart, and generally followed my own advice. I’m doing November’s entry a week early to highlight a ballot proposition in Washington state that will be decided next Tuesday.

And this time I have to pick on Amazon, a tough one for me since I am a persistent Amazon shopper (like, yesterday, for example). They just make it it so darn easy…

But pick on Amazon I must, in special solidarity with the citizens of Washington State and especially my great Parents Across America friend Dora Taylor who writes the wonderful blog

Why? Well, despite the fact that the folks out there in Washington, Bill Gates’ own neighbors, have repeatedly rejected the establishment of charter schools in their state, Bill and his know-nothing-about-education pals keep trying, and this year they have ponied up nearly $10 million to push ballot initiative 1240, allowing up to 40 charter schools in Washington

Dora posted an analysis of the initiative by local education expert Dr. Wayne Au, who points out that charter schools are undemocratic, take funds away from struggling public school districts, and – contrary to assertions in the initiative’s language  – are not better than traditional schools.

Dr. Au lays out the numbers:

The Yes On 1240 Washington Coalition for Public Charter Schools has received $9,132,994.26 in donations. $6.7 million, or roughly 73% of that comes from 5 donors:

  1. Bill Gates – $3,000,000;
  2. Alice Walton (heiress daughter of Walmart founder, Sam Walton) – $1,700,000;
  3. Nicolas Hanauer  (venture capitalist, early investor in – $1,000,000;
  4. Mike Bezos (father of founder Jeff Bezos) – $500,000;
  5. Jackie Bezos (mother of founder Jeff Bezos) – $500,000;

A total of $8.85 million, or just under 97% of the campaign is being funded by 19 donors, most of them being millionaires or billionaires, and some of them out-of-state.

So, I suppose that since Amazon’s Jeff Bezos himself is not a donor – just his parents, and maybe they don’t get along, right? – I could give Amazon a pass. And Christmas is coming – that next-day delivery is pretty sweet…Still, I will thing twice and I think you should too.

Meanwhile, check out some of these other donors to the Washington state charter push:

  1. Connie Ballmer (wife of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer) – $500,000;
  2. Anne Dinning (managing director of hedge fund giant, D.E. Shaw Investments) – $250,000;
  3. Michael Wolf (Yahoo! Inc. board of directors) – $250,000;
  4. Katherine Binder (EMFCO Holdings Chairwoman) – $200,000;
  5. Eli Broad (real estate mogul, Broad Foundation) – $200,000;
  6. Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founder) – $100,000;
  7. Doris Fisher (Gap co-founder) – $100,000;
  8. Reed Hastings (CEO of Netflix) – $100,000;
  9. Gabe Newell (formerly of Microsoft, co-founder of video game developer Valve Corporation) – $100,000;
  10. Benjamin Slivka (former Microsoft, co-founder DreamBox Learning) – $100,000;
  11. Microsoft – $100,000;
  12. Bruce McCaw (co-founder of McCaw Cellular, now known as Cingular Wireless) – $50,000;
  13. Jolene McCaw (wife of Bruce McCaw, both of the Apex Foundation) – $50,000;
  14. Education Reform Now Advocacy (a wing of the Democrats for Education Reform) – $50,000;

Well, I’m already good on Yahoo, the Gap, and Valve video games….

And you can join forces against Bill and the Waltons by donating to the anti-1240 campaign here. I just did.


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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.