Walton public school attack continues for Massachusetts charters and Arkansas vouchers
Massachusetts voters will consider this fall removing the cap on charter schools and the battle has been bruising, with the Billionaires Club that backs charter schools investing heavily to continue its assault on conventional public schools.
Massachusetts, by the way, is a national leader in education.
Here's a report on spending in the charter school battle. It should be no surprise that Jim and Alice Walton have contributed $1.8 million between them to the campaign to remove the charter school cap. It's part of their massive effort to tear down conventional public school districts for a marketplace model.
As luck had it, I got a reminder of one of the Walton assaults in Arkansas last night.
I got a call at home to participate in a "town hall" on the new school voucher programthat the Waltons helped push through the legislature in 2015. It's a beginning step to the Billionaires Club's holy grail — school vouchers for all. The "Success Scholarship" is open to any student with an individual education plan, or IEP. Again: Any student, no matter how small or large the special education condition that requires some special attention — a slight speech impediment, for example. They must come from a year in a public school.
The town hall was put on by a Walton-backed organization, the Reform Alliance, which is spending big sums of Walton money to recruit people to take this money to go to private schools. The group has been designated by the Walton-controlled Education Department (former Republican Sen. Johnny Key, prop.) to oversee the scholarship program. That means it is unaccountable to the public because it is funded by Waltons and not the state. It's an open question if the Alliance will reveal how many people applied, how many were accepted, the sorts of needs met and the demographics of those served.
I put a question to a screener and, when they ran out of questions, the moderator finally dealt with mine. The moderator had already said anybody can apply — no restrictions apart from the required IEP and a year in public school — but she emphasized the schools that participate make the call on who's selected. I asked what's to guarantee that the private schools won't take the students with the slightest problems and refuse difficult cases (as one school has already said it would do).
"Interesting question," said the moderator. She then proceeded to dodge it. She reiterated that anyone could apply. I didn't ask about applications. I asked about acceptance. I expect the public will not be able to get answers from private schools about their decisions to accept some and not others.
The town hall also included an "expert" from the Walton-financed education reform unit at their university branch in Fayetteville. She claimed great success with voucher Walton public school attack continues for Massachusetts charters and Arkansas vouchers | Arkansas Blog | Arkansas news, politics, opinion, restaurants, music, movies and art: