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Why NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg Gave $200,000 To Support Idaho’s Education Reform Laws

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Mayor Mike Bloomberg toured a storm ravaged section of Queens this week. Bloomberg was outed yesterday as one of Education Voters of Idaho's most generous contributors.

Anticipation ran high before the Idaho Secretary of State’s office posted Education Voters of Idaho’s donor list yesterday.  After all, the group championing the three laws known as Students Come First — addressed on the November ballot by Propositions 1, 2, and 3 — had attempted to keep its list of contributors a secret.

When the disclosure report was posted, Idaho media swarmed.  The name “Michael R. Bloomberg” stood out.  That Michael Bloomberg?  The same one issuing detailed updates and directives as New York City attempts to gain ground against the flood waters and power outages brought on by Hurricane Sandy? 

Yes, that one.  Mayor Mike Bloomberg is an education reformer who has imposed limits on teacher tenure, championed charter schools and drawn the ire of the United Federation of Teachers in his attempts to re-make the public education system in New York City.

Bloomberg’s website describes his philanthropic interest in education, and says his contributions support “efforts to strengthen leadership within school communities and advance good public policy at the federal, state, and local levels.”  Neither the mayor’s office nor Bloomberg Philanthropies has responded to requests for comment.

Idaho First Lady Lori Otter solicited Bloomberg’s contribution to Education Voters of Idaho, according to a Spokesman-Review report.  “You know, we got to know Mike pretty well, going up to the, Herb Allen has his gathering up in Sun Valley, and so every year we’ve gone up, we’ve ran into Mike, and had an opportunity to kind of get to know each other,” Republican Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter explained to reporter Betsy Russell.

Education Voters of Idaho filed its financial disclosure report only after Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa filed a lawsuit last week.  A district court judge found in Ysursa’s favor on Monday, and the group said Tuesday that it would not contest the ruling.

Education Voters of Idaho is working to keep the Students Come First laws in place. The Idaho Legislature passed the package of education laws in 2011.  The laws do many things, but they are known chiefly as measures that limit teachers’ bargaining rights, institute pay-for-performance, and fund a technological overhaul of Idaho classrooms.

The laws will be put to a vote next Tuesday, November 6.  They’re addressed on the ballot by the three measures known as Propositions 1, 2, and 3.   “Yes” votes will keep the laws in place.  “No” votes will repeal them.


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