Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Walton Family Foundation charter schools

STOP THE PRESSES! The NYT ran a cover story today on how the Walton Family Foundation has provided enormous support to charter schools and other ed reform efforts across the country.
I must say, I began to read the story with some trepidation, worried about a hatchet job, but the article is fair – yes, it has some critics repeating the usual myths, but it quotes supporters as well.
What the Waltons have done puts them in the philanthropy hall of fame. Whether you agree or disagree with their agenda, their impact has been extraordinary. It is impossible to overstate it. I've had a front-row seat for many years and can say with certainty that the ed reform movement would be much smaller and less successful, impactful and influential than it is today without the Walton Foundation's support. Most importantly, MILLIONS of kids have a brighter future today because of the Waltons' generosity.
My favorite quote in the article:

"Those who want to criticize any philanthropy group for giving money to kids to change their futures," said Dr. Clark, "there's something wrong with them."

The expected quote from Randi:

"What they're doing in terms of education is they're trying to create an alternative system and destabilize what has been the anchor of American democracy," said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the country's second-largest teachers union.

My response: Your union, Randi, has been a major contributor to the rise and entrenchment of an ineffective, unjust system that, rather than anchoring American democracy, is destabilizing it. It's a system that provides a mediocre education to the middle 60% of students and a catastrophic failure to the bottom 20% – almost entirely poor, minority students – the ones who most need great schools and teachers to escape the circumstances into which they were born, yet we instead stick them with the worst.
Re. Dennis Van Roeckel's comment:

"Any foundation that invests the money has to ask themselves, is their money impacting the system as a whole?" said Dennis Van Roeckel, president of the National Education Association, the country's largest teachers union.

My response: I certainly hope so!

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