AP Analysis: Billionaires fuel powerful state charter groups

SEATTLE (AP) — Bill Gates is the biggest champion of the beleaguered movement to bring charter schools to Washington state.

The Microsoft co-founder gave millions to see a charter school law approved and his private foundation has contributed what amounts to an entire year’s worth of revenues for the Washington State Charter Schools Association.

The group is credited with keeping charters open when the state struck down the law and lobbying legislators to revive the privately run, publicly funded schools.

It’s an extreme example of how billionaires are influencing state education policy by giving money to state-level charter support organizations to sustain, defend and expand the charter schools movement across the country.

An Associated Press analysis finds that philanthropists have given almost half a billion dollars to those groups since 2006.