Education Reform

Kansas City: “Never Seen This Kind of Money” in School Board Races

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The Kansas City Star reported on an unprecedented injection of money into the city’s local school board races. An unknown group with unknown donors has given more than $100,000 to pro-charter candidates. This concealment is known as Dark Money.

A newly formed nonprofit has already pumped tens of thousands of dollars into two contested races for the Kansas City Public Schools board, raising suspicions about the group and the candidates vying for seats in Tuesday’s election. 

Blaque KC, short for Black Leaders Advancing Quality Urban Education, has spent more than $100,000 on political consultants, mailed advertisements, radio spots, digital advertising and newspaper ads, according to reports filed this week with the Missouri Ethics Commission. That eclipses the combined fundraising haul of about $42,400 reported by campaign committees for the four candidates — including the two candidates backed by Blaque — running for contested seats on the board. 

While campaign committees regularly report individual donors and expenses, Blaque KC is spending independently of the candidates. And its leader won’t say where the money originated — leading to questions about Blaque KC’s motives. Some believe its ultimate goal is to disrupt the district’s center of power and usher in even more charter schools in Kansas City.

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The race is over. The two Dark Money candidates won. The people of Kasnsaas City deserve to know who bought seats on their school board and why.

If I were betting, I’d guess The City Fund, established initially by billionaires Reed Hastings (Netflix) and John Arnold (ex-Enron) with a startup grant of $200 million. It’s purpose, apparently, is to find small and medium-size districts where a strategic contribution can give charter advocates the upper hand. District by district, they are disrupting, defunding and destroying public education.

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