From Joe Klein at TIME.com (October 26, 2003)
In 1999, an unassuming Michigan road builder named Bob Thompson sold his construction company for $442 million, an amount he and his wife Ellen believed was far more than they needed for retirement. His first act, which received national attention, was to distribute $128 million to his employees; about 80 became instant millionaires. Then Thompson decided to donate most of the rest of his money to public education, preferably in Detroit. After doing some research, he offered $200 million to build 15 small, independent public high schools in the inner city. A few weeks ago, Thompson withdrew his offer after the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) led a furious, and scurrilous, campaign against his generosity. The philanthropist is in seclusion now—friends say he is stunned and distressed—but his is a story that deserves telling.