The rightwing, anti-union Walton Family Foundation has been funding the Illinois State Charter School Commission, a state agency, as well as many charter schools in Illinois. When the Chicago Public Schools recommended closing two charter schools because of their poor performance, the Commission blocked the closing. The two failing charters were also funded by the Walton Family Foundation.
Have you ever heard of a public agency that relied for funding on a private foundation with a political agenda of privatization?
Reporters Dan Mihalopoulos and Lauren FitzPatrick write:
A private foundation started by the late Walmart mogul Sam Walton and his wife has contributed heavily to the Illinois State Charter School Commission and to two charter operators whose schools the state agency has blocked the Chicago Board of Education from closing over poor student performance, records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show.
Even in the complex history of public education in Chicago, the situation involving the two charters, the Chicago Public Schools, the charter commission and the Arkansas-based Walton Family Foundation is unusual.
Unusual is an understatement.
For years, CPS has faced criticism for allowing the expansion and taxpayer-financed funding of privately run charters even as it shut down traditional public schools over low enrollment and bad test scores.
Aiming to show it expects charters to meet the same standards as CPS schools, the Board of Ed moved last November to cut off funding for three schools — including the Amandla Charter School in Englewood and Lighthouse Academies’ school in Bronzeville — over poor student performance. The charter commission overruled the Board of Ed and, in March, blocked CPS from closing the schools.
Beside Amandla and the Bronzeville Lighthouse Charter School, the commission also saved the Betty Shabazz International Charter School’s Barbara A. Sizemore Campus in Englewood from being closed. The Walton foundation hasn’t donated to Shabazz.
CPS responded later in March by suing the state agency over its ruling, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s schools chief, Forrest Claypool, called “ill-advised and destructive.”