New Yorkers Oppose the “Walmartization” of Education

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AQE-Walmartization

Source: Alliance for Quality Education

In an opinion piece at amNewYork, the Alliance for Quality Education and Walmart Free NYC sound the alarm about the Walton family’s efforts to undermine public schools in New York.

The authors note that the Walton Family Foundation, run by the Walmart heirs, “has spent more than $1 billion since 2000, pushing ‘reforms’ that move us toward a privatized K-12 system run by entrepreneurs and investors rather than educators.” And they say the Waltons are spreading millions around New York to promote the “Walmartization” of education there.

New Yorkers deserve to know what the Waltons mean when they talk about education “reform.” They want to apply the business model of Wal-Mart to public schools: more corporate control, more profit for companies and lower-paid workers. We fear their goal is the Walmartization of public schools.

Over the last five years, the Waltons have pumped millions into expanding publicly funded, but privately operated charter schools in NYC. But they have not spent a single dollar lobbying to increase investments in resource-starved public schools in our state.

Low-income students and students of color in public schools are disproportionately affected, as their education is destabilized and treated as the least worthy of investment.

Yet, even as the state fails to fulfill its constitutional duty to adequately fund public schools, the Waltons seek to divert much-needed tax dollars to charter school operators. New Yorkers want strong public schools in all communities and access to the highest-quality education for all children.

Unfortunately, more ad campaigns and advocacy from the Waltons will only leave our students, families and communities worse off.

You can read the full article at amNewYork.

 

Wal-Mart, Don’t Discount the Power of Teachers

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The following guest post is from Amber Rain Chandler, a teacher in western New York.

At the end of July, I was inundated with Facebook posts telling me about Wal-Mart’s Teacher Appreciation Week. How were teachers like me appreciated exactly? We could get an e-card for 10 percent back on “qualifying” purchases of supplies, basically a glorified gift card for the store.

But let’s be clear: Teachers know that Wal-Mart is not giving us or our schools anything meaningful to genuinely make a difference in the education of our kids. To the contrary, Wal-Mart’s “appreciation” for teachers has been to spend an incredible amount of money to discredit and shut out the voice of teachers, who are the ones who are the closest to students and need to be involved in the decisions about their education.

In New York state, Wal-Mart has been funneling massive amounts of money to privatize education and all but wipe out public education. In the past few years, the Walton Family Foundation has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to New York groups leading the push to “reform” schools using charter schools and vouchers. One of these groups spent more than $50,000 on the last two Buffalo school board races. How will our community in western New York move forward when research shows that what works is not privatization, but giving students in public schools a rich curriculum with well-supported, well-trained teachers, and the right mix of academic interventions, wraparound services and other needed resources. Privatization is Wal-Mart’s magic bullet. If Wal-Mart truly wants to make an impact on education, it could start with helping to overcome the unrelenting poverty in the city of Buffalo and the widening academic achievement gap, or by providing funds for enough language teachers to address the huge English-as-a-second-language (ELL) population in western New York. Educators, parents and school boards need to recognize that Wal-Mart’s “philanthropy” is in name only; instead, it is shamelessly creating generational poverty. When students come to school from homes where parents have lost their jobs, and where parents’ work does not provide a living wage, the students suffer.

Sure, with the deep school budget cuts over the past several years, I can understand why schools are so tempted to grab whatever cash they can get. Budget cuts have decimated the teaching staff, creating larger class sizes and the loss of electives. Can I attribute this directly to Wal-Mart? No, but they have influence with groups that promote privatization over fixing our neighborhood public schools. Educators do not want any part of a Wal-Mart agenda.

Wal-Mart’s ads about its appreciation for teachers are not really about helping teachers or students. Rather, it is all about a public relations scheme to appear supportive of education while luring shoppers to patronize its stores. The reality is that many of us would rather shop at a store that not only provides discounts, but also honors American values and genuinely values public school teachers.

So, I’m countering those Facebook posts and ads with messages of my own. During this back-to-school season, I’m letting my friends and followers on Twitter and Facebook know that I’m not shopping at Wal-Mart. Instead, I’m sharing the facts to show another side of Wal-Mart’s happy face.

Teachers won’t be fooled with coupons. We’re not going to put money behind a corporation that doesn’t have our students’ best interest at heart.

My message to Wal-Mart is simple: Don’t discount the power of teachers.

 

AmberAmber Rain Chandler teaches seventh-grade English Language Arts at Frontier Middle School in Hamburg, N.Y. Amber also teaches Methods in English Teaching at Medaille College and leads staff development on Differentiation for the Southtown Teachers Center.

This post originally appeared on MomsRising.org.

The Walmartization of Education

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The Waltons, heirs to the Walmart fortune and majority owners of the company, are the richest family in America. With more wealth than 42% of Americans combined, the Waltons are most notorious for their low-pay, low-road business model at Walmart. Now the Waltons are using their billions to export the Walmart business model to our classrooms.

The Walton Family Foundation, run by the Walmart heirs, has given more than $1 Billion to corporate-style education reform initiatives, including millions to the pro-voucher, pro-privatization Alliance for School Choice.[i]

  • The Foundation supports the legal assault on tenure in California. [ii] In fact, the Foundation called the judge’s decision in Vergara vs. California a “historic victory,” and claims that California’s tenure system keeps “grossly ineffective teachers in front of students year after year.” [iii]
  • In December 2013, the Foundation announced that it would contribute $6 million to the Alliance for School Choice, with the aim of doubling the number of students attending private schools with publicly-funded vouchers.[iv]
  • Last year, the Foundation contributed almost $500,000 to fund the “community engagement” process that led to the closure of more than 50 Chicago public schools.[v]

The Waltons:

  • Alice Walton: Even though she lives in Texas, Walmart heiress Alice Walton personally spent $2.25 Million in 2012 to promote the Waltons’ vision of education reform in Georgia, Indiana and Washington. Her contributions included: $1.7 million to help pass a charter school initiative (I-1240) in Washington;[vi] $350 thousand to help pass a ballot measure amending state constitution in order to promote charter schools in Georgia;[vii] and $200,000 for the failed re-election bid of Indiana Superintendent of Public Inspection Tony Bennett.[viii]
  • Jim Walton: Walmart heir and board member Jim Walton personally contributed more than $600,000 to political campaigns in 2011 and 2012 alone.[ix] His political contributions are focused on Arkansas, where he is a leading advocate for charter schools and school voucher programs.[x]
  • Greg Penner: Penner married into the Walton family and is vice chair of Walmart. In 2006, Penner contributed $250,000 to a campaign to defeat universal pre-K in California.[xi] He’s also on the board of Teach for America[xii] and Co-Chair of the Charter School Growth Fund.[xiii]

 

[i] Motoko Rich, “A Walmart Fortune, Spreading Charter Schools,” The New York Times (April 25, 2014). http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/26/us/a-walmart-fortune-spreading-charter-schools.html?_r=0

[ii] Peter Schrag, “Kill Tenure, Kill Schools,” The Los Angeles Times (April 3, 2014). http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-schrag-vergara-teacher-union-20140403-story.html; Heather Somerville, “Dave Welch, Silicon Valley entrepreneur, leads court fight against teacher tenure laws,” San Jose Mercury News (June 11, 2014). http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_25943802/dave-welch-silicon-valley-entrepreneur-leads-fight-against

[iii] Walton Family Foundation, “Historic Victory for Students in Vergara v. California,” (June 10, 2014). http://www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org/mediacenter/victory-for-students-in-vergara-v.-california

[iv] Lindsey Layton, “Walton foundation pumps cash into vouchers,” The Washington Post (December 17, 2013). http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/walton-foundation-pumps-cash-into-vouchers/2013/12/17/3578483c-6740-11e3-8b5b-a77187b716a3_story.html

[v] Sarah Karp, “For the Record: Walton Foundation funds community engagement,” Chicago Catalyst (January 30, 2013). http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/notebook/2013/01/30/20778/record-walton-foundation-funds-community-engagement; “Walton family school ‘reform’ initiatives in Chicago reveals true education agenda,” Chicago Teachers Union Blog (April 17, 2013). http://www.ctunet.com/blog/walton-family-school-reform-initiatives-in-chicago-reveals-true-education-agenda

[vi]Wayne Au and Joseph J. Ferrare, “Sponsors of Policy: A Network Analysis of Wealthy Elites, their Affiliated Philanthropies, and Charter School Reform in Washington State,” Teachers College Record Volume 116 Number 11 (2014) http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentId=17387

[vii] National Institute on Money in State Politics, online database (Retrieved March 3, 2014) http://beta.followthemoney.org/show-me?d-eid=16003987&y=2012#[{1|gro=f-eid

[viii] State Impact, “Tony Bennett: Indiana Native, Ex-Schools Chief, National Education Figure” (Retrieved March 27, 2014) http://indianapublicmedia.org/stateimpact/tag/tony-bennett/ Shortly after losing re-election, Bennett was embroiled in scandal when the AP revealed emails showing that he had ordered the falsification of state ratings for 13 schools, including a charter school founded by a major Bennett donor.

[ix] National Institute on Money in State Politics, online database (Retrieved March 3, 2014) http://beta.followthemoney.org/show-me?d-eid=19568397#[{1|gro=y; http://beta.followthemoney.org/show-me?d-eid=3485914#[{1|gro=y

[x] Max Brantley, “Waltons UPDATE: The charter school bandwagon arrives,” Arkansas Blog (Jan. 29, 2013) http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2013/01/29/the-charter-school-bandwagon-arrives

[xi] National Institute on Money in State Politics (database), Top Donors to No on 82 (Retrieved July 7, 2014). http://beta.followthemoney.org/entity-details?eid=10239352

[xii] Teach for America – Boards (Retrieved July 7, 2014). http://www.teachforamerica.org/about-us/boards/

[xiii] Charter School Growth Fund – Board (Retrieved July 7, 2014). http://chartergrowthfund.org/who-we-are/board/

[xiv] The Kipp Foundation Board of Directors (Retrieved July 7, 2014). http://www.kipp.org/about-kipp/the-kipp-foundation/board-of-directors

[xv] California Charter Schools Association Board – Carrie Penner (Retrieved July 7, 2014). http://www.calcharters.org/about/board/carrie-walton-penner.html

The Walton family’s role in school re-segregation

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Under the guise of “reforming” K-12 education, the Walton family, which owns a majority of Walmart and has raked in unfathomable wealth off the backs of low-wage Walmart workers, has poured over $1 billion into efforts to undermine public schools and promote a corporate-friendly, privatized model of education.

The Walton family’s work in education is both misguided and profoundly anti-democratic. Yet, as Arkansas Times columnist Max Brantley wrote in a blog post discussing an Atlantic report on the re-segregation of Southern public schools, there is a less-examined but equally serious consequence of the family’s interference with schools: The Waltons’ chosen approaches to school reform, namely school choice and charter schools, are contributing to the re-segregation of public schools and the potential resurgence of highly segregated “apartheid schools.”

For example, In Little Rock, the capital of the Waltons’ home state of Arkansas, Brantley notes that a new Walton-funded charter school is expected to attract wealthier students away from the local public schools, leaving behind poorer students. The family also backed state legislation that bars school districts from considering race in its decisions about student school transfers. (For over twenty years, in order to preserve the integrity of school desegregation efforts, districts were permitted to consider race in transfer decisions.)

Scores of academic studies from a variety of states and countries demonstrate that the Waltons’ approach to education is probably worsening segregation not just in Arkansas, but everywhere they are funding “education reform.” As Iris Rotberg, a George Washington University education policy professor, wrote for the Phi Delta Kappan, school choice programs and the expansion of charter schools drive increases in school segregation by race, ethnicity, income, and other characteristics.

In spite of this evidence, the Walton family—itself an emblem of income inequality—remains a staunch advocate of school choice and is believed to be the country’s largest funder of charter schools. Walton-funded “reform” organizations often make the audacious, arrogant claim that they are leaders in the “new civil rights movement.” Actually, their efforts risk setting civil rights back by decades.

Ending child poverty has been shown to improve children’s academic performance. Walmart, which the Walton family controls roughly half of, continues to keep many of its associates in poverty, with low wages, poor benefits and unpredictable schedules that make parenting even more difficult. If the Waltons really want to make meaningful, substantive improvements in children’s education, they could help combat child poverty by ensuring living wages for the 1.3 million Walmart workers in the United States.

In pursuit of hurting public schools, Walton family funds far-right school operator

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A Slate report last week revealed that Responsive Education Solutions (RES), a charter school operator whose expansion into Arkansas is funded by the Walton Family Foundation, has close ties to far-right creationists and opponents of the separation of church and state.

The Walton Family Foundation, led by the moneyed heirs to Walmart co-founder Sam Walton, is one of the leading funders of the corporate education reform movement that aims to undermine public schools by expanding charter school and voucher programs that funnel public tax dollars to private schools.

Curriculum materials from Responsive Ed schools in Texas, obtained by Slate, show that RES schools have made a mockery of science education by teaching creationism and attempting to discredit evolution. Moreover, the RES history curriculum is riddled with racist, sexist, and homophobic cultural biases and outright factual errors.

Given the limited courtesy that RES schools apparently give to science or accuracy, it may be no surprise that the operator’s schools were identified as poor performers in a charter school study performed by CREDO, a pro-charter, Hoover Institution-affiliated think tank at Stanford University. Strikingly, CREDO and Hoover also receive funding from the Walton Family Foundation—so even Walton-backed organizations have identified problems with RES.

The Waltons ought not to be funding an organization that plays so fast and loose with the education of children, let alone praise it as “a highly successful charter organization,” as the Walton Family Foundation did last year in this press release.

But sadly, the Waltons’ relationship with the disaster that is RES just goes to show how far they will go in their pursuit of destabilizing and weakening public education.

Nine Ways Walmart’s Ruling Family Is Funding a Far-Right Agenda

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The list Buzzfeed doesn’t want you to see
We originally posted this story on Buzzfeed, but without notifying us they took it down yesterday, claiming it was a “personal attack.” We don’t think that sharing factual information about the Waltons’ agenda is a personal attack – it’s just the truth that people deserve to know.

 

A brief guide to the political activities of the Walton family, the majority owners of Walmart. After all, they have enough money to fill a large backyard pool with solid gold.

They’re ruining public schools.

Since 2005, the family has dropped over $1 billion[1] to destroy public schools and treat K-12 education like venture capitalism. They’ve given to myriad voucher, charter school, and corporate education reform advocacy organizations, including the Milton Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice;  union-buster Stand for Children; and Michelle Rhee’s pro-privatization, pro-high stakes testing organization, Students First. Basically, they’ve appointed themselves to make decisions about education because they are rich as hell. Never mind that their pro-privatization approach doesn’t work, and never mind that ending poverty—like maybe among Walmart’s 1.4 million low-wage workers?—would do more than anything else to make kids’ lives and school outcomes better. Plus? Several groups they’ve doled out money to are plagued with scandal.

 

They love haters.

Why

The Waltons use their billions to fund haters like Jason Rapert – the Arkansas legislator who opposes gay adoption, wants to mandate vaginal probes for women seeking an abortion, and still suggests that President Obama was born in Kenya. Rapert’s no anomaly. From 1990 to 2012, 84% of Walton family spending on Congressional races went to candidates with a ZERO (out of 100) rating on women’s issues from the American Association of University Women.

In 2012, Jim Walton contributed $500 to the re-election campaign of Loy Mauch, an Arkansas state legislator who has called the Confederate flag a “symbol of Jesus Christ” and acknowledged membership in the “neo-confederate” secessionist group known as League of the South. It wasn’t until Mauch’s views and Walton’s contribution made headlines that Jim Walton asked that the contribution be returned.

 

They helped create the shutdown.

Since the 2004 election cycle, Walmart has given over $1.5 million to the Republican State Leadership Committee, the group that helped the GOP secure control over the redistricting process before the 2012 elections. That year, Republicans took 54% of House seats despite winning only 45% of the popular vote, enabling them to grind the government to a halt, even without the support of most Americans.

 

They contributed to the rise of Scott Walker and his cronies in Wisconsin.

From 2009-2010, the election cycle that brought Republicans to power in Wisconsin, Alice Walton was the top individual donor to Wisconsin legislators according to WisconsinWatch.org. Alice and five other Waltons were among the top fifteen political donors in Wisconsin legislative races during that election cycle. Since 2010, the Waltons have given $55,000 to Scott Walker, according to Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. The legislative victories they contributed to, combined with the family foundation’s multi-million dollar efforts to fund experiments in school choice in the state, serve as a multi-pronged approach to further their conservative agenda.

 

They tried to prevent gay families from adopting.

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Walmart heir and board member Jim Walton gave $75,000 to Arkansas’s Family Council Action Committee in 2008. At the time, the group was backing a ballot initiative that would prevent gay and lesbian families from serving as adoptive or foster families. Jim Walton’s contribution was equal to 55% of the group’s political spending that year. The measure passed, but the Arkansas Supreme Court struck it down last year.

 

They push their right-wing vision through ALEC.

(With apologies to Alec Baldwin) The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is infamous for promoting legislation that advances a conservative ideological agenda and benefits its members at the expense of everyone else. The organization developed and promoted anti-union legislation in Wisconsin and Ohio, as well as Arizona’s anti-immigrant SB 1070. It has also been an ardent supporter of the privatization of education, voter-ID laws–which distort our democracy by making it harder for low-income people and people of color to vote–and is becoming increasingly known for having developed the “Stand Your Ground” law that became notorious following the killing of Trayvon Martin. Walmart and the Walton Family Foundation were listed side by side as chairman-level sponsors of the conservative group’s annual meeting in August 2011. Following public pressure last spring, Walmart withdrew from the controversial organization, but the Walton Family Foundation has yet to publicly sever ties with ALEC.

 

They spend their money on the NRA’s top politicians.

Walmart is nation’s largest seller of guns and ammunition. Between the 2010 and 2012 federal election cycles, Walmart’s PAC gave nearly $1 million to candidates endorsed by the NRA. The Waltons gave another half a million to NRA-endorsed federal politicians over that time period, including super PAC funds. In fact, among politicians with 2012 grades from the NRA, 84% of the Waltons’ 2010-2012 cycle contributions went to candidates with scores between A+ and A-.

 

They make super contributions to super PACs.

Mitt-Romney-Laughing

The Waltons gave almost $900,000 to super PACs in the 2012 cycle. Of that, $400,000 went to Restore Our Future, the super PAC associated with Mitt Romney. As of last June, there were only 356 donors—including Jim and Alice Walton—who had given over $100,000 to super PACs…because most of us don’t have that kind of money to spend on our personal agendas.

 

They lobbied to avoid paying their fair share.

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During George W. Bush’s presidency, the Waltons and a host of other wealthy families worked to repeal the estate tax and save a ton on taxes. They hired a lobbyist and contributed heavily to politicians who were on their side, in order to save a fortune from beyond the grave. As a recent feature in Bloomberg confirmed, the Waltons continue to use creative mechanisms to skip out on their bill from American taxpayers.


[1] Based on: 1) Reports of grant funding in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 on the Walton Family Foundation website (and archived versions of the website from the Internet Archive, http://www.archive.org), and 2) A review of donations to candidates for school board positions, education PACs, and charter school ballot initiatives, obtained from campaign finance databases in the following states: California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

ADVISORY: Students, Teachers March From Closing Chicago School to Walmart Site

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MEDIA ADVISORY FOR

Tuesday, May 14th 2013

CONTACT

Nick Sifuentes, 310-866-1692, nick@berlinrosen.com

 

Students, Teachers, Education Advocates March From Closing School to Walmart Site

Marchers to Call Out Walton Family for Undermining Chicago Public School System

Majority of Chicago School Closures In Communities of Color, Low-Income Neighborhoods

Chicago, IL – On Tuesday, May 14th, over a hundred students, teachers, community leaders, education advocates and their supporters will march from Overton Elementary School (221 E. 49th St.) to a nearby construction site for a new Walmart store at 4701 S. Cottage Grove Ave. to protest the Walton family’s efforts to undermine Chicago’s public schools.

Marchers will gather at Overton Elementary School and proceed to the Walmart construction site, where they will hold a rally led by the Chicago Teachers’ Union. There, they will call on the Walton family to stop funding efforts to close Chicago’s public schools.

The Walton family, the richest family in America and heirs to the Walmart fortune, have given millions of dollars to initiatives which strip money from public schools, including nearly half a million dollars in support of Chicago Public Schools’ proposed school closures. Meanwhile, in 2012, the family spent $3.8 million—more money than they spent in any other city—opening new charter schools. The vast majority of the schools closing in Chicago serve low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, leaving many of these areas without local schools.

Walmart has eight stores in Chicago and two more under construction. Walmart workers earn low wages and benefits and often lack access to affordable, quality healthcare. Meanwhile, warehouse workers who supply Walmart goods have called on Walmart to require its contractors to guarantee safe workplaces and fair treatment. In addition, the company is notorious for finding ways to finance its operations on the backs of taxpayers; to help build new stores in Chicago, Walmart is leaning on a tax scheme that diverts money to developers and away from schools and other critical services.

WHO: Students, teachers, community leaders, local residents and education advocates

WHAT: March from Overton Elementary School to Walmart construction site in Bronzeville

WHEN: Overton Elementary: 4:00pm, Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Walmart site: 4:30pm, Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

WHERE: Overton Elementary School, 221 E. 49th St., to a nearby construction site for a new Walmart store at 4701 S. Cottage Grove Ave.

UFCW and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Wal-Mart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Wal-Mart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Wal-Mart publically commit to adhering to labor rights and standards. UFCW and OUR Walmart have no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with UFCW or OUR Walmart as the representative of Walmart employees.

###

How the Waltons could contribute to real improvements in kids’ educations

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In Tuesday’s State of the Union speech, President Obama proposed making universal preschool available to all American children. Implementation of early childhood education programs doesn’t come without some upfront costs, of course, but research demonstrates that it’s a great investment that leads to positive long-term outcomes in children’s lives. In particular, it benefits poor children, helping narrow achievement gaps that often exist between them and their wealthier peers.

The Walton family is big into education reform—you’d think they’d be major supporters of broader access to preschool, particularly since it would especially help the children of Walmart’s low-wage associates, right? Nope. In 2006, Walmart director and Walton family member Greg Penner contributed $250,000 to an effort opposing a universal pre-kindergarten program in California. (It would take the average full-time Walmart worker 14 years to earn as much money as Penner dropped on this one race.) The program would have been funded through an additional income tax on the state’s very wealthiest people—individuals making individuals making more than $400,000 a year, and couples making in excess of $800,000.

Rather than support investments and improvements in education that are supported by evidence, the Waltons base their efforts in education reform around their strong ideological belief in undermining public education. So rather than sacrifice a tiny portion of their wealth to a public preschool program, they instead spend hundreds of millions of dollars funding pro-voucher and pro-charter organizations, politicians, political action committees, and ballot issues.

The Walton family became the richest family in the nation by creating a business built on ruthless cost-cutting and low-wage, low-benefit jobs—the kinds of jobs that keep families and children in poverty. If the Waltons are really, truly serious about improving childrens’ educations and lives, they should set aside their privatization ideology, support early childhood education, and use their influence at Walmart to turn millions of Walmart jobs into good jobs with a living wage and benefits.

Does Jim Walton think public schools are a Communist plot?

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We recently wrote about a $500 campaign donation that Jim Walton—youngest son of Walmart founder Sam Walton, member of Walmart’s Board of Directors, and Chairman and CEO of the Walton-owned Arvest Bank—sent to Arkansas State Rep. Loy Mauch, and called for Walton to withdraw his donation and publicly reject Mauch’s extremist neo-Confederate views.

The Arkansas Times reported last week that, according to a Walton family consultant, Jim Walton wrote Mauch on October 22, asked for hiWhich of Loy Mauch's extreme views on education attracted Jim Walton's support?s contribution to be returned, and received his money back. “The contribution was made because of your support for education reform in Arkansas,” Walton’s letter reads. “Since making the contribution, however, I have learned about some of your views on other issues[,] with which I disagree.”

Let’s set aside for a moment that Jim Walton (well, or his consultants) must not have done much background research if they were unaware of Mauch’s repugnant opinions about slavery and the Confederacy, which were covered in a November 2010 Arkansas Times profile of Mauch and which he outlined in about 50 letters to the editor to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette between 2000 and 2010. (Summary: slavery must not have been such a terrible thing since the Bible doesn’t specifically say it was terrible,[1] Abraham Lincoln was a terrorist[2] and a war criminal,[3] and secession “is the only cure for this country’s destructive addiction to socialism.”[4])

The fact is that Mauch’s espoused opinions on education are pretty extreme as well. Here’s a sampling:

  • “Public education was forced upon the South during Reconstruction to complete the aim of the radical socialists, which was to destroy Southern conservatism.”[5]
  • “Public education is one of the 10 planks of the Communist Manifesto.”[6]
  • Desegregation of American schools “was never about education, but rather the post-American, despotic federal government coercing its will by using the military to execute the whims of a tyrannical judiciary.”[7]

So are these the views on education that Jim Walton meant to support with his campaign contribution to Mauch? He and his family are major funders of efforts to undermine public schools, of course, but these views seem beyond the pale even for corporate-style education reformers.  Jim Walton’s support of Mauch specifically for his “education reform” positions might give us more of a window into the Waltons education agenda than Jim would have liked.


[1] Letter to the Editor by Loy Mauch, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, February 15, 2003.

[2] Letter to the Editor by Loy Mauch, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, December 13, 2001.

[3] Letter to the Editor by Loy Mauch, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, March 14, 2005.

[4] Letter to the Editor by Loy Mauch, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, April 18, 2009

[5] Letter to the Editor by Loy Mauch, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, July 4, 2006.

[6] Letter to the Editor by Loy Mauch, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, September 16, 2006.

[7] Letter to the Editor by Loy Mauch, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, October 14, 2007.

Chicago teachers strike against corporate education interests and for better schools for kids. Guess which side the Waltons are on?

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CTU march in Chicago

CTU solidarity march, 9/10/2012 (photo from Chicago Jobs with Justice)

Members of the Chicago Teachers Union are on strike, in a “fight for the soul of public education,” according to a CTU organizer. On one side in this fight are teachers who are advocating not only for themselves but for their students too, calling for smaller class sizes, expanded student support services, and a broad curriculum that includes art and music classes. On the other side are right-wing, anti-teacher education reformers like the Walton family, who, as we’ve seen, have a keen interest in undermining America’s public schools and are one of the largest funders of the right-wing education reform movement nationwide.

Indeed, the Walton Family Foundation has given more than $1 billion to corporate-style education reform initiatives, including millions[1] to the pro-voucher, pro-privatization Alliance for School Choice, where Walmart heir Carrie Penner is also a member of the Board of Directors. In Chicago, in 2011 alone, the family spent more than $3 million funding organizations like Stand for Children, which pushed through state legislation that weakens teachers’ job protections and tried to make it harder for Chicago’s teachers to take a stand for themselves and their students by going on strike.

It’s no surprise that the Waltons are involved in a brand of education reform that is so fiercely anti-teacher—they and their family company are notorious union-busters, and we consider their education efforts a continuation of Walmart’s anti-worker policies. (The family’s foundation has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the anti-union National Right to Work Foundation in the guise of “shaping public policy” in education.[2]) Teachers and their allies understand what the favored policies of the Waltons and their friends in Chicago are about, though, and know what’s at stake: As the Chicago Tribune reported yesterday, many view the corporate reform efforts in their city “as a brazen attempt to shift public resources into private hands, to break the power of teachers unions, and to reduce the teaching profession to test preparation.” That’s not the teachers’ vision for Chicago’s public schools and that’s why they are courageously fighting back.


[1] Nearly $5 million total in just 2009, 2010, and 2011.

[2] More than $300,000 total in just 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Legal Disclaimer: UFCW and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Wal-Mart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Wal-Mart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Wal-Mart publicly commit to adhering to labor rights and standards. UFCW and OUR Walmart have no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with UFCW or OUR Walmart as the representative of Walmart employees. Judges have preliminarily enjoined non-Associates who are part of the UFCW International or OUR Walmart from entering Walmart property in Arkansas (read the order here), Florida (read the order here), Texas (read the order here), Colorado (read the order here) and Maryland (read the order here). Court enjoins non-Associate UFCW Intl. & OUR Walmart agents from engaging in certain activities inside California WMT stores. Read order.