Surprise: Walton-subsidized UA has another report to support Walton school agenda | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Surprise: Walton-subsidized UA has another report to support Walton school agenda

Posted By on Wed, Apr 30, 2014 at 12:42 PM

click to enlarge FUNDING GAP: More dollars go to conventional schools per student than to charter schools.
  • FUNDING GAP: More dollars go to conventional schools per student than to charter schools.
The Walton-subsidized University of Arkansas has issued a news release today about a report from a Walton-financed arm of the UA, the Department of Education Reform, that more money is spent on conventional public school districts than on charter schools, which the Walton heirs are spending hundreds of millions to promote in the United States, often to the detriment of existing public school districts.

I believe there are some understandable factors that lessen the the drama about the gap, ranging from less-experienced teachers who are paid less, differences in facilities and extra money given to public school districts for such considerations as desegregation plans (money to be phased out in Little Rock, for example) and federal money for poor students.

The biggest gap is a lack of local property tax revenue for charters and state construction funding. Walton lobbyists have managed to open the door in Arkansas a crack on construction funding with a state-subsidized revolving loan fund. If they find a way to snatch local property taxes it will surely be the death of many school districts, particularly in urban areas. Charter schools also don't receive some of the special funding enhancements that conventional school districts get above base funding. It's another enhancement that could from nowhere but out of the pockets of other schools given the legislature's reluctance to increase spending outlays. By the way: charter school get several thousand dollars more per student in base state foundation aid in Little Rock than the Little Rock School District gets because its base payment is reduced by its property wealth.

The report doesn't discuss the fact that charter schools have a built-in advantage worth more than money. Unlike public school districts, they are not forced to take and keep all comers, no matter their educational status or (lack of) parental or student commitment to an education. Some charter schools have also benefited from significant infusions of money from the Waltons and other billionaires. In New York city, much has been written about the advantages enjoyed by charter schools sometimes  operating in the same buildings as conventional public schools.

Like just about everything from the Walton's department at UA, it's all about pushing charter schools at the expense of conventional public school districts, though national studies have yet to demonstrate a significant difference overall in student performance . One charter school operator the Waltons have supported in Arkansas, Responsive Education Solutions, has even been cited in a national study as doing worse with demographic groups typically hardest to educate. The Walton money is nonetheless helping this operator set up a charter school in western Little Rock aimed directly at taking away more economically advantaged students from the Little Rock School District.

That's my take.

Here's the university news release. 

Here's a link to the full report.

Here's a link to the gap on funding in Arkansas, with a focus on, naturally, Little Rock.

The department promises a return-on-investment study later that will demonstrate performance per buck. As I've said before about the Quest charter school the Waltons are backing to cream still more good students from Little Rock: Give me 200 kids from middle- to upper-income families whose parents attend all school meetings and commit to longer days and longer school years and I'll show you a school that will "succeed." — in a pup tent. Show me a public school district with only the students left after charters and vouchers have bled parents who want to flee the underclass and I'll show you a "failure" and a surrounding city to match.

The Walton-subsidized researchers say the funding gaps, which they say have grown, are "alarming" and "unfair." I'm alarmed at the end result of the billionaires' push to explode a universal education system that has worked better, overall, than the "reformers' like to credit. It's an unfair haves-havenots system, where all students are increasingly deprived of exposure to kids from all walks of life.

As I wrote yesterday, El Dorado stands as proof that there's a third way. Additional infusions of money, spent smartly, can do wonders for conventional public school districts. The UA's Walton cadre has acknowledged as much in another report, though they didn't exactly put it the same way I did in touting the good news in El Dorado.

Tags: , , , ,


Favorite

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Among the last words from Kenneth Williams: 'Finger Lickin' Good Fried Chicken'

    What's purported to be a final-words essay from condemned prisoner Kenneth Williams was distributed today by Deborah Robinson, a freelance journalist in Arkansas.  He reflects on his execution, his victims, reactions of inmates and big servings of fried chicken, which he says are given to all inmates on execution days.
    • Apr 27, 2017
  • French Hill votes against disaster aid to Puerto Rico

    Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill alone among Arkansas's House delegation voted last week against a measure that provided $36.5 billion in disaster aid, a portion  for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico as well as money for wildfire response and to support the flood insurance program.
    • Oct 14, 2017
  • Presidential thriller, co-author Bill Clinton, coming to bookstores in 2018

    June 2018 is the expected publication date for a novel collaboration by former President Bill Clinton and crime writer James Patterson.
    • May 9, 2017

Slideshows

  • Arkansas vs Ole Miss at War Memorial stadium in Little Rock, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. After leading for much of the game, Arkansas lost 37-33 when Ole Miss scored the game winning Touchdown with less that 2 minutes left. 
  • Margaret Clark Adventure Park
    New sculptures, preschoolers play area dedicated in Riverfront Park in Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation