Saturday, November 10, 2012

Charter school money talks in Washington, Arkansas

Posted By on Sat, Nov 10, 2012 at 6:04 AM

MORE LIKE THIS: LISA Academy in Little Rock, one of the states first charters, will have more company with billionaires in control.
  • MORE LIKE THIS: LISA Academy in Little Rock, one of the state's first charters, will have more company with billionaires in control.
Diane Ravitch comments on the success, on their fourth try, by wealthy charter school backers to pass a law opening the way to more charter schools in Washington state.

She links to a report on who put up the $10 million to pass the law. It includes $1.7 million from Alice Walton, heiress to the Walmart fortune built by her father.

It reminds me again about how cheap it is to buy Arkansas. Maybe $2 million bought an Arkansas Republican majority in this year's election.

Much, much less than that was spent by Waltons and other billionaire backers and their agents to buy majorities on critical Arkansas education committees in 2010.

The charterizing of public schools in Arkansas with complete absence of proof of the superiority of the concept and plenty of proof of the perils of lack of accountability for the functional equivalent of publicly funded private schools will come in a torrent in 2013. That's a given.

The only unanswered question is whether a few Republicans, though wholly beholden to the Billionaire Boys Club, will be able with a straight face to say they believe in accountability while stripping accountability from the charter school process by taking regulatory power from the state Board of Education.

The state Board has approved charter schools left and right, but not every single charter school. And it has begun demanding performance on promises from existing charter schools. The billionaires' lackeys and they are everywhere, from the the Walton-controlled University of Arkansas to the Walton-controlled University of Central Arkansas to the private lobbying group they established in Little Rock don't like such rigorous oversight one bit. For example: The Board denied a LISA Academy expansion in Little Rock when a Board member noted that the school after drawing a whiter and more economically privileged student body than the surrounding public school district wasn't demonstrating academic performance any better than conventional public schools.

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