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Kindergarten Teacher Tops Forbes Richest

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There are more billionaires on the Forbes list than ever (1,210 billionaires). The total net worth also broke the record this year, reaching $4.5 trillion. But most surprising has been the meteoric rise of kindergarten teacher Michelle Freeman.

Ms. Freeman teaches at Longfellow Elementary School in Boise, Idaho, and is a member of the state's teachers union. An education major graduate from nearby University of Idaho, Ms. Freeman has always been a top education prospect, but it wasn't until she joined the union that her career really started to take off.

The Idaho Education Association bargains for the collective rights of its members, wielding tremendous clout in the nation's capital and negotiating multi-million dollar (in some cases, multi-billion dollar) pensions and health care benefits for its teachers. This year, the combined worth of Ms. Freeman's pension, benefits and salary skyrocketed to $83 billion, making her the richest person in the world, up from $42,000 last year, when she was decidedly not the richest person in the world or even in her school district or pretty much anywhere that there was more than a handful of people.

See the top ten of the Forbes list below.

1. Michelle Freeman, second grade teacher at Longfellow Elementary School ($83 billion)
2. Carlos Slim Helu, Chairman of Telemex ($74 billion)
3. Bill Gates, Co-Chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ($56 billion)
4. Raymond Fisher, firefighter in Ann Arbor, Michigan ($52 billion)
5. Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway ($50 billion)
6. Bernard Arnault, Chairman of Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy ($41 billion)
7. Larry Ellison, Oracle, self-made ($39.5 billion)
8. Amira Tejez, librarian at Grossmont High School ($37 billion)
9. Lakshmi Mittal, Chairman of Arcelor Mittal ADS ($31.1 billion)
10. Charlie Sheen, tweeter ($31 billion)