Everyone would agree: If we are doing good, we welcome others knowing about it.
Why, then, does the Dalio Foundation make it a condition of giving a $hundred million to Connecticut’s schools that its decisions be kept secret?
Everyone would agree: Taxpayers have a right to know how their tax dollars are spent.
Why, then, does the Dalio Foundation require that its $hundred million be matched by a $hundred million in taxpayer funds but refuse to tell the taxpayers how it will go about spending their money and demand exemption from Freedom of Information regulations which provide transparency and accountability?
The CT Mirror reported on October 2, 2019 that Gwen Samuel, a Connecticut parent who has children in Connecticut public schools and is a vocal advocate for educational equity for all of Connecticut’s children, asked those same questions of the Connecticut State Board of Education:
The leader of the Connecticut Parents Union made an impassioned plea Wednesday for members of the state Board of Education to review the provision that exempts the new partnership between the state and Dalio Philanthropies from disclosure and ethics rules.
“My main concern, and I’m sure I speak for many parents, is the fact that this could all be done in secret,” Gwen Samuel, president and founder of the Connecticut Parents Union, told the board. “There should never be any entity, including state entities, that have access to [public school] children of this state without transparency.”
Dalio Philanthropies also asked that the partnership be exempt from state disclosure rules, a request that was granted in June by Gov. Ned Lamont and the Democrat-controlled legislature. Since then, legislative leaders who sit on the partnership board have balked at some of the other proposed conditions, such as one that would create a five-member executive committee to oversee most of the partnership’s work while excluding all of the elected officials who are subject to the state’s Freedom of Information Act.
Lawmakers also objected to a request that they unanimously approve — via email — a tentative budget, nearly $250,000 in executive compensation, and various operating procedures before the partnership’s first meeting.
Samuel, and others, have argued that the partnership should be subject to state disclosure laws because $100 million in taxpayer money is being spent in public schools.
Wednesday, Samuel repeated this message before the state board of education.
“We have the right to know what is happening to our children in the public school system and I’m trying to understand why this board has not weighed in to ensure the protection of Connecticut children,” she said.
While the Dalio donation “sounds like a great thing,” Samuel said, “gifts with a string are no longer a gift.”
We have seen enough of the damage that philanthropic money has done, such as that of Mark Zuckerberg with his donation of millions to Newark, New Jersey and Bill Gates, with his donation of millions for implementing the failed Common Core Standards. The Dalios, however well-intentioned they may be, are not educators and are not parents of public school children. Why would we let them make the decisions for our public schools? And, even more so, why would allow them to keep their decision-making a secret from us, the taxpayers who fund their secret plans with $100 million?
Shame on the State Board of Education for being bought.
Shame on the Connecticut General Assembly for being bought.
Just as the city of Newark and Mark Zuckerberg himself have come to regret what he did with his money in Newark and just as those knowledgeable about how children and adolescents learn and what they need to know have come to regret the Common Core State Standards, so too will Connecticut come to regret turning over decisions about how to educate our children to the secret Dalio Foundation.
The cost of the Dalio deal is the loss of control by Connecticut taxpayers and educators of our Connecticut public schools. That cost is way too high.