Psssst: Did you know that Walmart money is paying for virtually every aspect of the campaign to eliminate the cap on charter schools in Massachusetts? Millions in Walmart dough is being steered to the groups that advocate for charter school expansion, finance the construction of new charters, conduct the polls showing growing public support for more charters and place strategic op-eds calling for more charters. Some $2 million of that money, by the way, goes to individual charters, like MATCH and Excel, whose students are transformed into junior lobbyists come cap raising season. (Here’s a list of who got Walmart $$ in 2011 and 2012.)
Eliminating the cap on charters in Massachusetts is a key priority for the Walton family, whose Walton Family Foundation is funded by Walmart profits. You see, the Walmart heirs, who now control as much wealth as the bottom 40% of Americans combined, understand that there is nothing we can do about the low wages that cause poverty. What we can do, however, is “infuse pressure” into the K-12 education system in order to give poor people a “choice” of education options, much like local businesses are infused with pressure when a Walmart Super Center opens its doors nearby.
But what kind of schools does the Walton family want low-income parents to choose from? Excellent ones! The single largest beneficiary of Walmart $$$ in Massachusetts is an organization of which you’ve likely never heard. Building Excellent Schools, which has received close to $6 million from the Walton Foundation since 2011, specializes in urban “no excuses” charters where minority youth are inculcated with the skills and values they’ll need to flourish in the 21st century workplace. But don’t take my word for it. Check out this day-in-the-life excerpt submitted by Building Excellent Schools as part of their application to open a “college prep” school in Fall River, MA. (Note: excerpt starts on page 144).
These excellent schools also have the added benefit of being completely union free. The teachers, overwhelmingly young and white, are employees at will who work on one-year contracts and can be fired at any time. Which is another excellent lesson for the students who will soon be enjoying lots of choice courtesy of the Walton family. You see, much like Walmart and the 1% of the US population it employs, the workplace of the future will also be union free.
The irony is, of course, that Walmart recently canceled plans to open stores in Boston, Watertown and Somerville rather than agree to demands to meet minimal workplace and purchasing standards. Yet Walmart $$$ is rapidly reshaping public education in the Commonwealth. If there’s a brand new poll showing that the majority of Massachusetts residents believe that the Walton heirs should determine the future of their public schools I haven’t seen it yet. Of course it’s only Monday…