Howard Rich contributed $ 100,000 to 8isGreat.org (Florida Constitutional Amendment 8 promotional effort) on 8/17/2018. Three days later on 8/20/2018 “Leon county judge ordered…that Amendment 8, the measure that seeks to create a pathway for the state to oversee charter schools and bypass local school boards, be removed from the ballot.
Circuit Judge John Cooper wrote in a summary judgement that the amendment’s ballot title and summary ‘fails to inform voters of the chief purpose and effect of this proposal.'” (Tampa Bay Times / Emily L. Mahoney / 8/20/1028)
While Amendment 8 set term limits of eight years for school board members and required the legislature to provide for the promotion of civic literacy in public schools, the amendment “maintains a school board’s duties to public schools it establishes, but permits the state to operate, control, and supervise public schools they did not establish.”
It effectively meant charter schools could be set up in a district, but since they were not established by the district, the local school board has no authority over them. There would still be no local authority, since oversight would be done by a different state institution.
So who is Howard Rich, who made his fortune in Manhattan real estate and has a passion for funding libertarian-oriented political initiatives?
A big proponent of term limits for elected officials at each level of government in the U.S., he also supports school choice, parental rights regarding education, reducing the size and scope of government and property rights.
National Public Radio identified Rich as a leader behind the independent groups with potential to influence elections.
According to open sources.org / Russ Chuma / June 19, 2012 “His involvement in electoral politics usually consists of transferring money — though it’s often difficult to say exactly whose money — into nonprofit groups that don’t disclose their donors. When he funds causes — or candidates — directly, Rich frequently camouflages his donations under any of dozens of nearly anonymous shell corporations.”
Rich serves on the Board of Directors of the Cato Institute.
Originally founded as the Charles Koch Foundation in 1974, in July 1976 the name was changed to the Cato Institute. Cato was established to have a focus on public advocacy, media exposure and societal influence. According to the 2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report Cato is number 15 in the “Top Think Tanks Worldwide” and number 10 in the “Top Think Tanks in the United States”.
Charles Koch is chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the conglomerate Koch Industries.
Charles Koch’s brother David H. Koch was the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate in 1980. He advocated for the abolition of Social Security, the FBI, the CIA, and public schools. Koch put $500,000 of his own money into the race, and he and Ed Clark, his presidential running mate, won 1.1% of the vote.
In September 1999 Charles Koch and the Charles G. Koch Foundation founded the Bill of Rights Institute (BRI), which provides “exciting” new resources for cash strapped teachers across America with lesson plans, study materials and even seminars geared toward elementary, middle and high school students.
The lesson plans are professional, very detailed and free, unlike many educational tools, and come with suggestions for educational activities such as multimedia and additional reading.
The curriculum is Libertarian, in keeping with David H. Koch being the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate in 1980.
Lesson plans and class materials obtained by The Huffington Post make the cuurriculum’s message clear: “The minimum wage hurts workers and slows economic growth. Low taxes and less regulation allow people to prosper. Public assistance harms the poor. Government, in short, is the enemy of liberty.”
But according to talkingpoints.com there’s only one catch:
“It’s right-wing brainwashing.
These free resources are part of an effort by the innocuously named Bill of Rights Institute to brainwash students into buying the far-right narrative on history, politics and economics.”
But it seems to be working.
According to theroot.com “What it (BRI) really is, is an education arm of a network of right-wing charities funded by the ultraconservative Koch brothers in conjunction with a number of other conservative philanthropic individuals and organizations. It takes millions of dollars in donations and claims to have taught the Bill of Rights to more than 5 million students and 50,000 teachers, including directly training 22,000 educators through its constitutional seminars.”
The News and Observer reported that News and Observer reported that North Carolina hired the Bill of Rights Institute to write a history curriculum for teachers to follow, and that the Virginia-based organization has received grants and donations from Charles Koch and multiple Koch groups. (Talkingpointsmemo.com 12/10/2014.)
And then we found this memorandum by The Center for Public Integrity:
Newly released documents show that at George Mason University, the Charles Koch Foundation was given a say in hiring and firing professors, according to published reports.
The records were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by a group called “UnKoch My Campus,” which seeks to expose the influence of billionaire investors Charles and David Koch over colleges and universities.
What makes higher education a worthwhile investment for the Kochs, who are known for bankrolling conservative causes and Republican campaign vehicles?
Essentially, to inculcate the next generation with a philosophy like their own: As we’ve reported throughout this decade, education grants from the Koch brothers’ network of foundations routinely support academic programs or centers that teach theories and principles aligned with the Kochs’ convictions about economics and public policy.