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In 2016, the Waltons decided that Massachusetts needed more charter schools. It must have annoyed them that the Bay State is considered the best state in the nation even though it has less than 100 charters.
They began planning a strategy to lift the cap. After Republican Governor Charlie Baker was elected, they thought it would be easy to add more charters. But the legislature refused. They launched a referendum and poured millions into “Yes on 2,” aided by other billionaire who love privatization. When the vote was tallied in November 2016, Walton and Friends (many of their names kept secret by Dark Money groups) got their backsides kicked. Yes on 2 was overwhelmingly defeated (62%-38%), winning only in a handful of affluent districts that never expected to see a charter school in their town.
They filed a lawsuit, claiming that the cap on charters denied black children educational opportunity. The state’s highest court threw out their case.
The main purveyor of Dark Money in the referendum was “Families for Excellent Schools,” which was required to reveal the names of donors after the election, pay a fine of nearly half a million dollars, and stay out of the state for four years. Shortly after, the New York-based FES collapsed.
Did the Waltons learn anything from this fiasco?
No. They have returned to Massachusetts with another AstroTurf group called the Massachusetts Education Equity Partnership. Some of the same players are present.
Professor Maurice Cunningham has chronicled the Datk Money intrusion into Massachusetts.
He tells the story of the new fake front here.
As he reminds us, “Dark Money Never Sleeps Follow the money.”