The campaign to bring charter schools to Washington state received two big donations last week — $2 million from Bill Gates and $1.1 million from Alice Walton, daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.
Another $500,000 came from two New York residents, one of whom is the managing director of De Shaw and Co., a global investment and technology development firm based in Manhattan.
The group in favor of Initiative 1240 has now raised $8.3 million, dwarfing the contributions to the two opposition groups, which together have raised $277,000. More than half of that amount came from the state’s largest teachers union, the Washington Education Association.
Charter schools are independently run public schools that are given the flexibility to innovate, but are supposed to face increased accountability as well. More than 6,000 charters exist in 41 states.
In November, Washington voters will be asked for the fourth time whether to allow them to come here.