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United States Education Government The Almighty Buck Politics

25% of Charter Schools Owe Their Soul To the Walmart Store 233

theodp writes "Among the billionaires who helped Bill Gates pave the way for charter schools in WA was Walmart heiress Alice Walton. The Walton Family Foundation spent a whopping $158+ million in 2012 on what it calls 'systemic K-12 education reform,' which included $60,920,186 to 'shape public policy' and $652,209 on 'research and evaluation.' Confirming the LA Times' speculation about its influence, the Walton Foundation issued a press release Wednesday boasting it's the largest private funder of charter school 'startups,' adding that it has supported the opening of 1 in 4 charter schools in the U.S. since 1997 through its 1,500 'investments.' But as some charter school kids have learned the hard way, what the rich man giveth, he can also taketh away. For the time being, though, it looks like America's going to continue to depend on the tax-free kindness of wealthy strangers to educate its kids. For example, while it was nice to see the value of Shop Class recognized, the White House on Monday called on businesses, foundations and philanthropists to fund proposed 'Maker Spaces' in schools and libraries. Hey, when the U.S. Secretary of Education turns to corporate sponsors and auctions to fund his Mother's afterschool program for kids of low-income families in the President's hometown, don't look for things to change anytime soon."
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25% of Charter Schools Owe Their Soul To the Walmart Store

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  • by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @04:13PM (#46197833)

    Due to a technicality Alice was let off of on a DUI charge just recently. [] Maybe she should spend some of her $27 Billion on Drug and Alcohol education in the schools instead?

  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @04:16PM (#46197849)

    I have come to the conclusion that the charter school movement was conceived in sin. born in corruption and is too full of conmen and grifters to give it any support.

    There may be some decent, honest people trying to make things better in the movement, but it is not the way to bet.

  • by bazmail ( 764941 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @04:20PM (#46197877)
    I'll bet they'll teach advanced shelf stacking techniques, door greeting, making do on low pay, turning your back on further education. etc. Walmart/Walton Foundation is NOT a charitable institution. Everything they do is profit through exploitation.
  • Re:Love the quotes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @04:31PM (#46197959)

    Good parenting means not letting your public schools become shit and not letting corporations take over your education system via backdoor like this.

  • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @04:38PM (#46197999)

    It's quite simple really when you distance yourself from the whole thing, like those of us not in that country can do.

    Step one: buy out all mass media. Advertise that government is bad and capitalism is good.
    Step two: use aforementioned propaganda as a tool to get tax breaks.
    Step three: use part of the funds gathered through tax breaks to show the masses that are getting poorer how good corporations are, reinforcing point one.
    Step four: repeat step two.
    Step five: repeat step three.

    Every even step after one: profits increase.
    Every odd step after one: chance of revolt against corporate agenda decreases and push for step mentioned above increases from public direction towards the government.

    It's a brilliant construct, built to self-accelerate profit generation and increase fund transfer from public to private interests.

  • by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @04:48PM (#46198057)

    That was indeed the double meaning. Thank you for spelling it out for everyone.

    Fact is though, the beta protest movement has its place. And its not in the other discussions. Even a good cause can lose a lot of support if most ardent supporters start to trash everything, rather than focusing their protests on the issue.

  • Re:Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 08, 2014 @04:49PM (#46198063)

    It should be called SlashWhiners.

    Incessant whining about everything. It's like all the adults have been banished on only 5th graders are posting.

  • Re:Love the quotes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mattmarlowe ( 694498 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @05:04PM (#46198167) Homepage


    Good parenting means taking _complete responsibility_ for your childs education. If your public school is awesome, great - but that only goes a little way. The culture, values, education, and effort/commitment of the parents has always been the number one predictor of a childs future academic success. Public schools are also limited in what they are allowed to teach your child - forced to comply with what is polically correct, what politicians and businesses have managed to redefine the subjects and ideas to study as, and what the local/state/federal government have compromised as the textbooks and teachers that your kid will interact with. These are usually far from the best choice which you learn about in great detail if you go and investigate on your own and then put together your own educational plan which you implement via home schooling, careful selection of private schools, or selective hiring of tutors.

    Having kids was never supposed to be about the state taking over most of the responsibility for education, or for being a gloried childcare center because both parents work, or something that could be handled without careful planning and ensuring one had the necessary resources ahead of time. Politicians and the public can talk all they want about improving public schools and overall childhood education, but the further responsibility and teaching moves away from responsibile active parents - the worse the result will always be. We've had a 100 year slide away from families and responsibile parenting and nothing is going to be fixed in education until we reverse it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 08, 2014 @05:08PM (#46198183)

    Eh, the public high school I went to was pretty good, certainly produced many good graduates that are doing well now. NW suburbs of Chicago. Many parents even sent their kids to the public school instead of the rather prestigious catholic school nearby.

  • Here's some quotes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bondsbw ( 888959 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @05:14PM (#46198235)

    "tax-free kindness of wealthy strangers"

    Why do some feel that charitable contributions should be taxed? Say someone makes a billion dollars this year and gives away that billion dollars to feed the hungry or buy clothes for the poor... that should be it. If the government takes half a billion off the top, that is half a billion less for those hungry and poor.

    It's the same as giving someone a welfare check and then taxing half of it. Suggesting that would be considered preposterous by the same people who want to tax the hell out of the charitable contributions.

  • Re:Love the quotes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by n8_f ( 85799 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @05:50PM (#46198459) Homepage
    Sounds like a horribly inefficient allocation of resources. Even wolves spread teaching amongst the pack.
  • by lfp98 ( 740073 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @07:26PM (#46198979)
    These charter-school folks have a long-term agenda, and that is the conversion of public education from a public service to a fully privatized profit center, with the added perk of eliminating teachers unions as a political force. A key factor in achieving this is that wealth inequality has become so extreme that local governments no longer have the resources to educate the nation's children, but billionaires do. Can parents and boards of education afford to say "no" when, in the face of decaying buildings and teacher layoffs, big-time donors come offering modern, well-staffed facilities, with all the latest IT and other equipment, if only you let the donors do it their way? Once the public school system is reduced to being merely a dumping ground for the worst, most disruptive and unresponsive students, the donors won't have to be so generous, they'll be making handsome profits as the contractors in a privatized fee-for-service education system. It's just like the 1990s when deep-pocketed for-profit HMOs offered healthcare at below-market rates. Once all the nonprofit hospitals and insurers were driven out of business, the for-profits jacked up premiums at double-digit rates for decades. It was a brilliant strategy, and it's happening all over again, in education.
  • Re:Love the quotes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @07:49PM (#46199087) Homepage Journal

    And good statecraft means making sure the population is well educated. Be it through strong public schools or making sure parents have the time, energy, and resources to educate their children themselves.

  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @11:57PM (#46200065) Homepage

    Maybe the charter schools by you are good. The ones by me? Not so much. First of all, they get to pick and choose what students they accept. Inevitably, any student with special needs isn't accepted. (We had our son in a Montessori school for a bit years ago and we were pushed out. We suspected this was because our son required PT and OT services. Later we found out that all students with PT or OT were being pushed out but we felt pressure not to talk since the principal was friends with some people high up in the district.) This selective enrollment means that the public schools get a bigger percentage of students who need services. This costs more money, of course, but the charter schools don't need to pay for that.

    Next, there are the high stakes tests that New York has implemented. I'm opposed to those tests in general. They are administered by Pearson, not reviewed by ANYONE to see if they are appropriate, and don't show what students have learned. They only are used as a threat against teachers - if your kids do poorly, you might be out of a job. This means that the teachers teach to the test and toss aside anything that won't be on the test. However, the charter schools are exempt from this. They don't need to take these tests and so they can do what they want.

    Third is the fact that they pull money from public schools. Those same public schools that now need to spend more money on the higher percentage of student with special needs and who feel pressured to teach to the test are finding themselves with less and less money and more money flows to the charter schools instead.

    Finally, what tests the charter schools DO administer, they get to decide which results to publish. So if a few kids don't do well on the tests, those scores get tossed aside while the successful kids have their scores touted as the norm.

    This all combines to lead public schools to ruin while diverting more money to charter schools. It becomes a vicious cycle too. Charter schools look stellar with selective test reporting while the struggling public schools look bad. So more charter schools are opened and the public schools get less and less money. Rinse and repeat. Meanwhile, the kids who need special services get a second class education because the charter schools don't want to touch them. (Not that I'd want my sons in one of those.)

    Like I said, this might not be the case for the Charter schools by you, but by me this has been my experience. They are run by greedy corporations who see the public school system as a big piggy bank that they can suck dry and they will manipulate test results and lobby politicians as much as they need to to get those dollars.

  • by fredprado ( 2569351 ) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @01:54AM (#46200461)

    But seriously, the teacher's unions around here do not make the arguments that you claim yours do, but if yours does, ok, however it seems you're also making that same argument. So if we can't trust them, how can we trust you when you're doing the same thing you say not to trust in others?

    Teacher's unions anywhere use this argument. It is the argument used against charter schools anywhere charter schools exist. They try to detract charter school quality anyway they can. They preach that privatization of all schools would make education worse because it would be a commercial and ruled by market laws, ignoring that private schools are better. They use the students supposed "well being" to leverage their position all the time, in US and everywhere else where there is threat to their jobs.

    And you don`t need to trust me. Trust is irrelevant. Arguments stand on their own regardless of who makes them. And in this case it is even more irrelevant if you trust me or not, because the ones you should decide to trust or not are the parents, and it is simply stupid not to trust them with this, as we already trust them with much more important things, like the lives and physical integrity of the children in question

    Parents have been making a mess of raising their children for several millennium, while the survival of the human race has not been threatened by any such individual decision, many children have paid the price for their actions.

    Only in your distorted view. Most parents do aquite a good job, and that is the only motive why we have a functional society. Governments on the other hand made huge messes and disrupted society with wars, genocides, massacres, mass surveillance,, indocrinnation, etc.

    Whatever can we do, apparently neither side can be trusted to do things right! Let's go for the nihilistic solution!

    Perfection does not exist in this world, but imperfections vary greatly. Nobody is talking about nihilistic solution, just about putting the decision in the hands of parents, because they are the least imperfect solution for this problem, being better than the government by far.

    They are making decisions that impact me, and I don't agree with them, yet my ability to effect change is limited. You seem to be in the same situation. Whatever shall we do?

    Easy, we should fight for our freedom to make our decisions and have control over any aspect of our lives that are not a government business to dictate, like the education of our children.

    Governments work by coercion through threat of violence. They are a necessary evil to keep society working, but they are an evil. Exactly because there is no consensus about most human endeavors we should keep coercion over people that disagree with most of us to the minimum necessary. that is the moral thing to do. Or do you think that if 70% of the people suddenly decide that we should exterminate the other 30% it would be ok to do so?

We all like praise, but a hike in our pay is the best kind of ways.