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Why Houston Billionaire John Arnold Is Funding the Dallas ISD Home-Rule Push

Actually, we don’t know for sure why he’s doing it. He’s not talking. Jim Mitchell over at the Morning News asked for an interview about his financial backing for the Support Our Public Schools effort to make Dallas ISD a home-rule district, but he declined.

Arnold probably isn’t eager to be the public face of Support Our Public Schools or to see headlines about how a rich Houstonian is looking to overhaul education in Dallas. (He’s a Hillcrest High School grad, so his interest makes sense from that standpoint.)

Mitchell did some Googling and found that Arnold had donated money to both Barack Obama and Ted Cruz (before he knew Cruz was a Tea Partier, apparently.) He’s lent support to efforts to roll back public-sector pensions, which has pissed off unions. Plus he and his wife have taken the Gates-Buffett pledge to give away half of their fortune.

What we might most take note of, in thinking about their involvement in the home-rule proposal, is what Arnold’s wife Laura says in this video about their approach to philanthropy:

“We like to think of ourselves as pursuing big, bold ideas that will achieve transformative change,” she says.

But what little we know about the Arnolds is far more than we’ve got on the other donors to Support Our Public Schools. There are between five and 10 of them, and they’ve remained anonymous. At that poorly organized town hall last week, proponents said it was the donors’ right to remain unknown.

Yes, it is their right, but it leaves me with a creepy “Who is John Galt?” vibe.

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