Central to understanding the couple's education philanthropy is Sinquefield's involvement with the Show Me Institute (SMI), which he cofounded and where he serves as president. The institute aims to make big changes to the state's education system, including ending teacher tenure and enacting vouchers in the form of "tuition tax credits," along with other efforts that critics say would privatize education in the state.
SMI is a member of American Legislative Council (ALEC), which advances conservative ideas at the state level, and many of the education initiatives that SMI promotes closely track with ALEC proposals, such as parent trigger legislation, which empowers parents to transform a school into a charter if it is performing poorly. The Sinquefields have been a steady funder of SMI, to the tune of around $1 million annually.
The Sinquefield's have also given least $925,000 to Teachgreat.org, which was organized to attack teacher tenure. Smaller sums have gone to the Missouri Education Reform Roundtable and Howard Fuller's group, the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO).
According to the Center for Media and Democracy and Progress Now, Sinquefield is doing to Missouri what the Koch Brothers are doing to the entire country. He told The Wall Street Journal in 2012 that his two main interests are "rolling back taxes" and "rescuing education from teachers' unions."
His latest Amendment 3 campaign to take away teachers collective bargaining rights and base teacher pay on student test score, ended in failure last month.
Sinquefield's racist, off-the-cuff comments have made him an embarrassment even to his right-wing allies.
"I hope I don't offend anyone," Sinquefield said at a 2012 lecture caught on tape. "There was a published column by a man named Ralph Voss who was a former judge in Missouri," Sinquefield continued, in response to a question about ending teacher tenure. "[Voss] said, ‘A long time ago, decades ago, the Ku Klux Klan got together and said how can we really hurt the African American children permanently? How can we ruin their lives? And what they designed was the public school system.' "
Sinquefield is also a life trustee of DePaul University.