I checked, and Gates is one (two?*) out of over 25 contributors! It seems very misleading to say that she's "funded by Gates." One of the other donors on the list is the Walton Foundation . . . Can you imagine someone cherry-picking that particular donor to smear Green by association? (I can!)I should explain.
I believe that I'm not cherry-picking when I cite Bill Gates, and only Bill Gates, as Chalkbeat's backer. I assume that Green's major donor --by far -- is Gates (or possibly Gates/Walton).
Unfortunately, I don't have easy access to Chalkbeat's 990 forms, so I haven't fact-checked.
In terms of bias, the presence of multiple donors on the donor page doesn't matter if one donor is providing most of the funding. I'm a member of a list that recently dealt with the multiple-donor issue re: Thomas Fordham Institute. Fordham, too, has a list of donors, but Gates is the big one:
Based on their 2012 990 there, Fordham had a total $2.8M income from grants in 2012. Given that Gates gave Fordham $1M in April 2013 (and $1.5M in 2011), clearly Gates is a major contributor. Gates' grants are probably split over 2 years or more in Fordham's tax forms. Other grants seem to be on the order of $100k-$300K. [email excerptBill Gates is in a category unto himself. (Chalkbeat has been taken to task for the Walton funding, by the way.)
From a Chalkbeat story written by Green in 2008:
One of the world’s most expansive philanthropies, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, emerged yesterday from a year-and-a-half-long silence on one of its major investment areas, releasing a plan to dramatically alter the foundation’s approach to improving American schools.I haven't really thought the issue of donor-backed, one-issue journalism through.
In the crowd were some of the most important names in education: the presidents of the two major American teachers unions; the current U.S. Education Secretary, Margaret Spellings; at least one former Education Secretary, Dick Riley, who served under President Bill Clinton; and several people named as possible Education Secretary in the Barack Obama administration now being formed. That group includes Schools Chancellor Joel Klein of New York City; Arne Duncan, the superintendent of schools in Chicago; the former chairman of Intel, Craig Barrett; and the co-chairs of Obama’s education advisory board, Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond and the New York City-based education entrepreneur Jon Schnur.
The education A-list crowd flocked to the Seattle conference because the direction the Gates Foundation takes will undoubtedly have a significant impact in schools across the country. In the last eight years, the foundation has invested $4 billion in education projects, and that is not counting its investments in scholarships and libraries.....
The size of Gates’ investments is expected to continue apace in this next phase, a foundation spokesman said.
As a result, some observers said Gates’ new direction is more important to the future of American schools than the identity of the next U.S. Education Secretary.
“In a way, being Secretary of Education is less significant than being Bill Gates,” the education historian Diane Ravitch said, guessing that the foundation gives more money annually to education than the U.S. Department of Education has available in annual discretionary funds. “I’d rather be Bill Gates.”
I like think tanks, which exist to produce reasonably solid research and opinion papers devoted to a particular political or policy view. I'm a big consumer of white papers.
I'm not sure I'm sold on donor-funded conventional journalism, which is what Chalkbeat purports to be.
At a minimum, I think Chalkbeat should disclose funding sources within any reporting on their donors. I had no idea Chalkbeat was funded by Gates (or by the Walton Foundation, for that matter). I was reading their stories 'straight,' not suspecting a bias toward charter schools or Common Core. Whether or not that bias is present is neither here nor there. Disclosure is good form.
Here's another Chalkbeat story on Gates I've just come across:
He doesn't know what he's doing, and he shouldn't be able to assemble policy "A-lists" to explain to them what comes next in public education.