Donor Spotlight: Dr. John Baden
At ACE, our donors come to support school-choice from many different walks of life and personal experiences. Take Montana donor Dr. John Baden, for instance, who is a nationally recognized environmental scholar. He is the founder and chairman of the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE), an educational foundation that offers symposiums on ecological and environmental policy.
With a long list of professional accomplishments including numerous book publications and professorships, it’s hard to believe that Dr. Baden ever struggled in school. However, what his resume won’t tell you is that he was briefly kicked out of high school. He describes the experience as one that “introduced me to bureaucratic tyranny, pettiness, and the importance of educational choice.” From then on, Dr. Baden has firmly believed in school-choice programs education reform.
School-choice is particularly important to Dr. Baden and his wife, Ramona, as their three grandchildren are now school-aged. “Our grandkids are enrolled in high-performing independent schools,” Dr. Baden explained. “But not all parents whose children are stuck in an inferior government school can afford tuition at an independent school. Essentially, they have no options. I consider this an ethical and economic injustice.”
Dr. Baden avoids the term “private schools,” which he says sounds elitist, and instead uses the term “independent schools” to describe non-governmental schools. “There is a substantial variety of independent schools and they serve students from all economic and cultural backgrounds. Using the term ‘private’ does them a disservice by implying exclusivity,” he explained.
The Baden’s support ACE Scholarships guided by their belief in the importance of educational freedom and opportunity for all people, especially those in financial need. “I believe ACE Scholarships offers the only program in our region that empowers families to choose the best education for their children,” said Dr. Baden. “I have been impressed by the recipients of scholarships and by people who work for and with the organization. Ramona and I help them.”
In addition to his generosity to ACE, Dr. Baden also works to actively promote school-choice in his community. “Quality begets quality – and competition encourages this virtuous process,” Dr. Baden wrote in a recent column on parental choice in education, “One of the great advantages of independent schools is the competition it opens. Monopoly breeds mediocrity while competition fosters progress. This applies in both the social and economic arenas.”
For more information on the Foundation for Research Economics and the Environment, visit www.free-eco.org