|Alma mater||Lamar University|
Randy Best is an American education entrepreneur and conservative political donor.
Best was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas, the son of a hardware store owner and a teacher. In 1967, Best graduated from Lamar University, where he majored in political science after switching from pre-law.
While a student at Lamar, Best started a jewelry business which he later sold for $12 million. After selling the business, Best pursued several different ventures, including art galleries, clinics, cattle yards, oil and gas, defense and aerospace, and Girl Scout-cookie manufacturing. Best and Elvis Mason founded a bank in 1984 with the backing of Robert S. Strauss, Laurence Tisch, and Thomas C. Barry. In 1995, Best founded Voyager Expanded Learning, a phonics-based early-literacy curriculum. By 2005, more than a thousand school districts across the United States used the Voyager curriculum. Best sold Voyager in the mid-2000s, and founded Academic Partnerships, which provides master's degree programs in business and education to public colleges. Academic Partnerships first worked with Lamar University to establish an online program, then expanded to several other universities including the University of Texas system and Arkansas State University. Best hired former Florida Governor Jeb Bush as an adviser to Academic Partnerships, and the two co-wrote a 2013 Inside Higher Ed op-ed promoting online education.
Best has served on the boards of Best Associates, ProQuest, Voyager Learning Company, Mason Best, the Education Commission of the States, the NEA Foundation, the National Urban Alliance Board of Columbia University, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Foundation For The Improvement of Education. Best was a major bundler for Jeb Bush's 2016 run for president.
- Howard, Caroline (12 February 2014). "No College Left Behind: Randy Best's Money-Making Mission To Save Higher Education". Forbes. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
- MacGillis, Alec (26 January 2015). "Testing Time". New Yorker. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
- Michels, Patrick (29 August 2012). "Randy Best Is Going to Save Texas' Public Universities, Or Get Rich Trying". Texas Observer. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
- Hamburger, Tom (31 December 2014). "With eye on 2016, Jeb Bush resigns from all boards". Washington Post. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
- "Randy Best". Bloomberg Business. Bloomberg. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
- Beaumont, Thomas (15 October 2015). "Records Show Republican Jeb Bush Healthy and Wealthy". ABC News. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
- Rhee, Joseph (17 May 2007). "U.S. Reading Program Benefits Bush Friend". ABC News. Retrieved 18 October 2015.