Funding San Diego

Tom Ultican: Why is the San Diego Foundation Funding Privatization of the Schools?

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Foundations are tax-exempt because they are supposed to do good works on behalf of society. But more and more foundations are putting their vast, untaxed wealth into the national effort to undermine public education and to hand it over to entrepreneurs, amateurs, fast-buck operators, and religious institutions. Privatization does not promote the common good. Privatization is harmful to the commonweal.

Tom Ultican, a high school teacher of advanced math and physics, takes a look at the powerful San Diego Foundation. Sadly, most of its funding in education goes to nonpublic schools. Public schools seem to be an afterthought.

He writes:

San Diego Foundation was established in 1975 and has grown to almost $700 million in assets. It’s self-described purpose: “As one of the nation’s leading community foundations, The San Diego Foundation strives to improve San Diegans’ quality of life by creating equity and ensuring opportunities to be WELL (Work, Enjoy, Live & Learn).” In 2014, they gave over $10 million to educational endeavors. The following table illustrates the spending bias against public education.

Of that $10 million, only $373,000 went to public schools. That’s odd, because the overwhelming majority of children in San Diego attend the neglected public schools.

Another favorite recipient of San Diego Foundation funds is competency-based education. The goal of CBE is to put every child on a computer. We know from multiple studies that children learn best from human teachers who respond to them. Yet the San Diego Foundation has jumped on the Bandwagon to Nowhere.

And here is another strange pattern:

The largest single grant bestowed by the SD Foundation was $2,6 5 0,7 0 9 to the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego. The JC Foundation had net assets at the end of 2014 of $171,593,990.

The Jewish Community Foundation spending on education follows a similar pattern as the San Diego Foundation. They spent $466,830 for groups working to privatize public education most of which went to TFA ($406,330). They also spent lavishly on private schools including $146,000 to La Jolla Country Day, a decidedly upscale K-12 private school.

By far the largest grant by the Jewish Community Foundation was the $25,817,228 bequeathed to University of California San Diego. A major patron of both the Jewish Community Foundation and UCSD is the Qualcomm founder and billionaire, Irwin Jacobs.

Three more grants from the Jewish Community Foundation were interesting. They gave Cornell University $5,511,000. They also gave the Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund $6,362,171. The Goldman Sachs fund asset total at the end of 2013 was $1,500,395,380. And the JC Foundation gave the SD Foundation $1,515,800. Why give money back? It is like the Charter School Growth Fund giving their benefactors from Walmart $15,000,000 in 2013. Why?

Why would any foundation give a donation to the Goldman Sachs fund, which has assets of $1.5 billion? Puzzling.

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