"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Who's Getting Walmart School Privatization Cash?

From the NYTimes:

Last year, the Walton Family Foundation gave $478,380 to a fund affiliated with the Chicago public schools to help officials conduct community meetings to discuss their plan to close more than 50 schools at a time when charters were expanding in the city. . . . .
In 2013, the Walton foundation spent more than $164 million across the country. According to Marc Sternberg, who was appointed director of K-12 education reform at the Walton Family Foundation last September, Walton has given grants to one in every four charter start-ups in the country, for a total of $335 million. . . . .
Walton’s largest recipients include the Charter School Growth Fund, which helps charter school networks expand ($101.6 million since 2000); Teach for America, which recruits high-achieving college graduates for two-year teaching stints in poor districts and now places about a third of its corps members in charter schools ($67.2 million); KIPP, one of the country’s best-known and largest charter school networks ($58.7 million); the Alliance for School Choice, a national advocate for private school vouchers ($18.4 million), whose board includes Carrie Penner, a member of the Walton family; and GreatSchools Inc., an online schools information database ($15.5 million.)
Last year, the foundation announced a two-year, $8 million grant to StudentsFirst, an advocacy group led by Michelle A. Rhee, the former schools chancellor in Washington who oversaw many of the policy changes funded by Walton in the district’s public schools. StudentsFirst now pushes for the extension of many of those same policies in states across the country, contributing to the campaigns of lawmakers who support the group’s agenda.

Although the foundation’s leaders say they are focused on helping children in poverty or stuck in low-performing schools, some of their actions support concepts regardless of whether poor children benefit. In 2012, for example, Walton gave $300,000 to the Douglas County School District in Colorado to help it fight a lawsuit brought by opponents of a voucher program. The median income of families in the district, where the public schools are high performing, is more than $99,000, according to census data.

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