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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 Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @04:18PM (#46197865)

    $60,920,186 to 'shape public policy'...

    AKA lobbying. What won't a politician do for money?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 08, 2014 @04:25PM (#46197929)

    Not surprising. I went to a pretty excursive private school. (Not that may English reflects it.) We had one student pulled over for DUI. He got off because his parents hired a Private investigator to follow the arresting cop around. Turns out he liked to pick up prostitutes and take'em to an alley and return them.(I don't remember if he did this while on duty or not) He wasn't able to testify due to being on forced leave and since the high priced lawyer insisted on speedy trail the prosecution dropped the case.

  • Re:Who gives a shit? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @04:32PM (#46197965)

    Yes. It's called slashdot. You're stinking it up with your "beta beta blah blah blah" bullshit. Take it to the farmers for composting or something.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 08, 2014 @04:35PM (#46197981)

    I am posting this anonymously because many of my previously upmodded posts have suddenly been downmodded offtopic, troll, etc. Karma be damned, I am fighting for a website I have been reading almost every day for more than a decade. If you care about Slashdot, please do not sit idly by and wait for Dice to add to Beta the features that we care about. Slashdot has, hands down, the best moderation system online. It is no coincidence that it has been ruined in Beta [].

    There is a reason [] why "News for Nerds, stuff that matters" no longer appears in the header:

    Slashdot Media’s brands include Slashdot and SourceForge. These technology sites provide access to tools, software and forums for enterprise IT professionals working in all industries and companies from the world’s largest to small and medium-sized firms. Slashdot and SourceForge harness the power of social that no other tech site can compete with.

    Slashdot Media provides its partners with proven integrated media strategies to effectively influence technology buyers. With over 15 years experience working with the largest and most engaged professional technology communities, Slashdot Media’s expert staff continues to contribute to the success of its partners branding, demand generation, and social media marketing programs.

    I, for one, abhor our new corporate overlords.

  • Crystal Bridges (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hugh Pickens DOT Com ( 2995471 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @05:11PM (#46198217) Homepage
    That's not all Alice has done. My wife and I recently spent a few days at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art [], a world class museum in Bentonville, Arkansas created by Alice Walton, and had an incredible experience. "Located on 120 acres of native Ozark forest, Crystal Bridges' grounds invite visitors to enjoy the natural environment as a continuation of their museum experience. The Museum's distinctive architecture immerses visitors in the landscape, while three miles of nature trails encourage exploration and reflection." And admission is free.
  • by fredprado ( 2569351 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @05:45PM (#46198425)
    Teachers unions are all but direct in their interest being the representations of teachers. All their political arguments start and end with "for the students". Same thing about the public school system. The public servers that run it have exactly one interest, and that is keeping their jobs and their regulative power, but all their arguments also start and end with "for the students".

    You are right in one assumption though: "You can't serve two masters.". That is exactly why giving parents the power to choose their children schools is the best way to solve the problem, because the only people who serve the right masters, the students, are the parents.
  • by portforward ( 313061 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @07:15PM (#46198917)

    Do you have a child in a failing school? Have you spent time time talking to clueless administrators? One of them told me "it was against state law" to teach the multiplication tables. They won't teach fractions except for 1/2, 1/3 and 1/4. That is unfortunate because you don't get to pick your fractions in algebra. One of the (first grade) teachers directly criticized my wife for not speaking more to my son in Spanish. The kindergarten teacher said he "didn't want parents in the classroom". The public school principal spoke with me in very thinly disguised contempt.

    I could either run for school district or send my son to a charter school. When we asked about math, the principal of the charter school said, "Oh, so that is why none of the fifth graders who come from the school district can't do math."

    So no, my presence, my ideas, my concerns were not welcome at the public school. Your theories fail the actual children in the schools. I like choice. What does it matter that a "corporation" does it rather than the school district? If you don't like charter schools, then don't send your children to one. If enough people don't like them, they will close.

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

    by mattmarlowe ( 694498 ) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @10:08PM (#46199689) Homepage

    Public school teachers are all well and good, but from the Parent perspective (who has the strongest interest in the education of their child):
    * The parent has no control over which specialist/teacher is chosen. In fact, in many school districts, the assignment of students to classes isn't known until 5pm on the Friday before the first week of school. This just hammers in that the child will be forced to attend the school assigned classroom regardless of the parent's interests or concerns about the teacher.
    * The parent has little to no control over what is taught in the class - and has little ability to protest or take their child out if they find some material offensive or inappropriate.
    * The school sets the emphasis on the various subjects, which might be completely opposite of what the parent believes is correct for his child.
    * Even if a parent is willing to work with the child when he comes home from school on those areas he/she wants to emphasize or reinforce, typically the child will have other conflicting homework or be worn out - simply lose his creativity after attending public school for many years.
    * Sometimes the parent believes the teacher/school is actually teaching wrong information, or the child is being exposed to bad influences/culture - How much time does the parent spend every week deprogramming their child when he/she could have been teaching/reinforcing instead?

    Taking active direct control of the childs education by reading up, becoming familiar with educational topics and curriculums, which books are good/bad, what teaching philosophies work/etc and then choosing the right educational venue (public, private, tutor, home school, coop) would seem to be a better approach.

    But honestly, a lot of parents are afraid of homeschooling because they think they couldn't stand being around their child all day or that they just can't teach effectively....or that the child is somehow losing out. For grades K-8, it honest is not that difficult and with a larger family and some careful planning there is no issue with socialization. And just 2-4hrs/day of direct 1-on-1, or 1-2 education time between a parent and child easily matches or surpases what a child learns by being one out of 30 students during 5-7hrs of public school. All home schooling really requires is an educated parent with a reasonable amount of time, modest resources, and the drive/commitment to make it work. As for specialists, I'm currently home schooling my 3rd and 5th graders and will consider exposing them to community colleges professors or dedicated online classes when they get to high school for those subjects that need substantial expertise.

  • by rwa2 ( 4391 ) * on Sunday February 09, 2014 @04:50AM (#46201115) Homepage Journal

    Some of the public school systems right nearby Bill G. already have something of an alternative to private charter schools. []

    So not sure why they have to push so hard to get private charter schools stood up.

    Admission is by lottery, which is just as self-selecting for motivated parents as charter schools... that is to say, you will probably get into one of them if you bother to apply. Once in, you're expected to put in so many hours of community service (both students and parents), as well as make a "voluntary" donation of $200 per year (as a public school, they can't really mandate collection).

    The schools themselves tend to be small and very tightly-knit. They're usually run entirely by a handful of "star" teachers with free reign over the curriculum and virtually no administration... they usually share a principal from the nearest conventional school. The real "scam" is some legal loophole that allows these schools to be built with none of the extra facilities - usually when school campuses are constructed, they need a certain minimum allotment of athletic fields, gyms, cafeterias, multipurpose rooms, etc. While some of these choice schools have such things, the majority of them are just a handful of classrooms - so funds are purely focused on academics (kids can still participate in sports and activities at their local conventional school). The other scam is no school busses; parents have to drive the kids there themselves, though a lot of them carpool and the kids also get public bus passes.

    So it's actually not all that much different than what you describe. Most of them have themes (art/theater , environmentalism, politics, foreign language / history, STEM, etc.). The big complaint is that there aren't more of them, which is funny because they appear to be much cheaper to run than most typical school campuses and draw on a lot of parent involvement.

I am more bored than you could ever possibly be. Go back to work.