How the Walton education agenda harms public schools | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

How the Walton education agenda harms public schools

Posted By on Wed, Mar 16, 2016 at 9:17 AM

click to enlarge WALMARTUCATION: Can they transfer their business model to education? And if they succeed, will communities be hurt by abandoned schools as they've been hurt by abandoned businesses? - SHUTTERSTOCK
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  • WALMARTUCATION: Can they transfer their business model to education? And if they succeed, will communities be hurt by abandoned schools as they've been hurt by abandoned businesses?

This is an important article 
about all the things the paid Walton lobbyists and Walton-owned politicians won't tell you about the down side of the billionaires' push for "school choice,"  as embodied by charter schools.

There's corruption in many locales (including Little Rock). There's lack of accountability in the private management organizations that run many of the charters. There's the creaming of students. There's the damage done to conventional school districts left  to struggle with more concentrated pockets of difficult students and less money to help them. There's the fear that charters are merely a transitional step to the voucher system the Waltons preferred in the first place. There's the fact that the movement is built on myths about the presumed failure of public education, a popular tactic in Little Rock, where the existing public school system, despite being over-endowed with poor students, competes quite well when you compare demographically similar groups of students.

Concludes the author Jeff Bryant:

But what if John Walton’s disappointment in public schools stems from the possibility that Americans, as a whole, want other kinds of “results” from their public schools? What if what they want, as Jitu Brown says of his own community, is the opportunity to “improve our neighborhood schools” instead of having them replaced by the charters preferred by the Waltons?

Meanwhile, as WFF contemplates how to best “soften the ground” for increased school choice, and policy makers ponder the growing impact of philanthropists in education, more communities may have to contend with the reality of schools, public or charter, coming and going based on forces not in their control. Completely lost in the discussion, though, is whether it’s right for the American populace to have its access to education determined by the values and philosophy of a few rich people.
In Arkansas, the prevailing political dynamic favors the rich people. And the Waltons' paid lobbyist, Gary Newton, spews propaganda hourly in their quest to destroy the Little Rock School District. His latest: More charter schools with predominantly white, upper income students in western Little Rock are good for the Little Rock School District. He also contends the Pulaski County School District should not be allowed to improve its middle school in western Little Rock with a new campus. Competition apparently is OK if the deck is stacked in favor of Newton's charter schools. Not so much if it's a public school district trying to do better.

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