The billionaire school reformers | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The billionaire school reformers

Posted By on Tue, Jul 26, 2011 at 2:41 PM

Old story, but each iteration seems to carry new details about how billionaires — many of them right-wing conservatives — have poured huge sums into "education reform" and charter schools. This article, in a Louisiana school publication, suggests that many are motivated by the potential for unlocking big profits from annexing public money spent on public schools. See, for example, William "Slot Machine Junkie" Bennett, who led the K12 private corporation that nets a payment equivalent to that given real schools with staffs and facilities for providing materials for home-schooled virtual students in Arkansas and other states. And there's Rupert Murdoch. Yes, that Rupert Murdoch. And, of course, there's the Arkansas Walton family.

John Walton, who died in a 2005 plane crash, bequeathed $4.1 million to All Children Matter (ACM). His and other contributions to various states (including Louisiana) are obscured by movement from a Political Action Committee (PAC) in one state to a non-profit or PAC in another state. ACM reportedly spent $750,000 in eight Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education races four years ago. Alice Walton recorded a $173,247 contribution in 2010 to an Indiana PAC involved in a pro voucher campaign. Other Walton’s involved in financially supporting the movement to eliminate public schools include Jim, Christy, and Lynne, all of whom are heirs of the Wal-Mart founder.

In 2010, Walton gave out $157 million for K-12 education, about $5 million of it in New Orleans.
About $52 million went toward shaping public policy, $64 million went to creating quality schools and $39 million went to improving existing schools. Another $2 million went to research grants.

"Shaping public policy." In other words, a $52 million lobbying bill. That can buy a heap of legislators at Arkansas rates.

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