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Richmond Confidential reporter Abner Hauge meets with education philanthropist Steve Chamberlin. Written and illustrated by Abner Hauge.

Three Cheers for the Kids and Our Money

on December 10, 2016

Abner Hauge spent October and November investigating the nonprofit Education Matters. Education Matters is a 501(c)(4) started by Steve and Susan Chamberlin, local philanthropists who contribute to a variety of West Costa Costa County causes. The organization gives to school board races, runs a website that purports to give unbiased news and information on education, and owns the land and buildings that house four West Contra Costa charter schools. This comic asks questions about their influence over West County education, and whether a private nonprofit funded by two philanthropists should have the power it does over education and education policy.

Click Here to read the full comic


  1. W. Berger on December 11, 2016 at 8:35 am

    Very odd form of journalism here: author creates a news piece which merely cites his cartoon.

    The law allows charter schools. The primary question is the quality of the education they provide. Aside from innuendo and a mocking cartoon the reader gets no clue as to how good Chamberlain’s schools are.

    Real journalism would require spending a day in classes with the kids and talking with them, asking tough questions of the teachers and finding out what parents think of the education their children are getting. Alas, we get nothing of the sort.

    Cartoon journalism is not the proper channel for a critical examination of these schools.

    • Confidential Commenter on December 11, 2016 at 8:17 pm

      I’ve always believed in our public school system, but they seem to be in deep denial over the fact that people when given a choice are abandoning failing public schools for charters. I don’t claim to know the answer. But it’s quite clear that no one seems to be asking the right questions either, this “cartoon” included, and until that happens the exodus will surely continue.

  2. Confidential Commenter on December 11, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    Is this intended to be journalism? This seems more like a hit piece. And a disrespectful one at that. Disappointing.

  3. Not another charter troll on December 11, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    Wow, fair and neutral questions directed at the glass-jawed charter-Chamberlain machine. Great job. Keep up the good work!

  4. Diane on December 12, 2016 at 11:15 am

    “The law allows charter schools.” Ask yourself who wrote those laws. Our political system is one of legalized bribery, and this excellent, factual piece lays the problem bare. With the appointment of yet another billionaire “philanthropist” as Secretary of Ed., a Christian conservative with no knowledge of what it takes to educate all comers (and no desire to do so), I hope people will finally wake up to the fact that charters are not part of the solution: they are making our already very daunting problems worse, weakening our public institutions, and enriching the rich in the bargain. This is oligarchy, pure and simple: raiding the public coffers for personal gain, backed by a conservative agenda to do away with public schools. Charter-lovers: it’s lamentable that you can’t afford to send your kids to private school, but if you’re not willing to be part of the public school system, take your hands out of the till.

  5. Mikey on December 12, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    Hahahahaha, what a hilarious piece of satire — three cheers to the author for this tour de force in what a pathetically awful piece of “journalism” can look like. Wow, I mean, literally one of the worst published pieces I have seen in a long time. Bravo on the performance art!

  6. Sandi Brown on December 12, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    Great job Abner at exposing the wolf in sheeps clothing. Keep following the money in this big scam.

  7. Confidential Commenter on December 12, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    “Take your hands out of the till”.
    I see an awful lot of parents who feel pressed to extreme measures in order to avoid sending their kids to their local public school in Richmond. Things like taking an additional job or even renting an apartment in another city in order to get their children in an acceptable school. Many are already paying rather high property taxes for the very schools they do not feel safe sending their children to. Perhaps it is the other way around and the school district should keep their hands out of the taxpayers till who are not getting what they are paying for. I would love to see a situation where parents are fleeing the charter schools for their local public school, but that isn’t what is actually happening. If 200 families a year are fleeing the public schools, then the school system would do better to take a hard look at themselves and correct whatever the problems are. Pointing fingers and whining isn’t going to reverse the exodus.

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