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Waltons Are Shamefully Targeting Black Communities with Privatization Promises

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The Waltons are an especially cynical bunch of billionaires. The family collectively is said to be worth something between $150-200 Billion. Alice Walton, at $46 Billion, is the richest woman in the world.

They have a family foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, which proclaims its love for children by funding privately managed charter schools. They boast that they have funded one of every four charter schools in the nation.

If they really cared about children, they would pay their one million employees at least $15 an hour. That would do more to help children than all their charter schools. But, as is well known, they pay low wages and are vehemently anti-union. When Walmart comes into a town, they drive every mom-and-pop store out of business, then give mom and pop a part-time job as “greeters” at the new big box store. If the Walmart is not profitable, they close it and move on, leaving all the small towns within 25-50 miles with empty main streets, their stores closed.

Now the Waltons, we learn from this excellent article by Sally Ho of the AP, have decided to target Black communities, to woo them away from public schools and to promise them the world in their privately managed charter schools. They woo them to enroll in a school where parents have no voice and children have no rights. If they don’t like it, they can leave. And by luring them away from their public school, the Waltons guarantee that the public schools will lose funding, fire teachers, have larger class sizes, and not be able to offer electives, while possibly eliminating recess and the arts.

This is not philanthropy. This is villainthropy. Nobody does villainthropy better than the Waltons. They have already forgotten that Sam Walton, the creator of their family wealth, graduated from a public high school, the David H. Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri. He would be ashamed of what his progeny are doing: Destroying the public institution that served the public good and made it possible for him to rise in the world. The entire Walton clan and everyone riding their gravy train should be ashamed of themselves. Probably they are not capable of shame.

Amid fierce debate over whether charter schools are good for black students, the heirs to the Walmart company fortune have been working to make inroads with advocates and influential leaders in the black community.

Walton family, as one of the leading supporters of America’s charter school movement, is spreading its financial support to prominent and like-minded black leaders, from grassroots groups focused on education to mainstream national organizations such as the United Negro College Fund and Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, according to an Associated Press analysis of tax filings and non-profit grants data…

While some black leaders see charters as a safer, better alternative in their communities, a deep rift of opinion was exposed by a 2016 call for a moratorium on charters by the NAACP, a longtime skeptic that expressed concerns about school privatization, transparency and accountability issues. The Black Lives Matter movement is also among those that have demanded charter school growth be curbed.

When NAACP leaders gathered to discuss charters in 2016, a group of demonstrators led the Cincinnati hotel to complain to police that they were trespassing. The three buses that brought the 150 black parents from Tennessee on the 14-hour road trip were provided by The Memphis Lift, an advocacy group that has received $1.5 million from the Walton foundation since 2015.

Please open the link to see the graphic that shows how the Waltons are funding leading black organizations, to buy their support for the privatization of public education, where parents have voice and children have rights.

Can you imagine learning civics in a Walton-funded school? Do they teach poor children and black children not to vote? Do they learn to sing the praises of unbridled capitalism? Do they learn to despise the common good? Do they teach deference to your betters? Do they teach children that protest is wrong and that rich people should never be taxed?

I’m reminded of a visit I paid to New Orleans in 2010. I was speaking at the historically black Dillard University. The audience contained many fired teachers. I spoke and we had a dialogue about what had happened to New Orleans. One woman got up and said plaintively, “First they stole our democracy, then they stole our schools.”

Black families should be wary of anything that the billionaires are promoting. If they won’t pay their workers a living wage, they can’t be trusted with the children of the workers.

Let’s hope that the Waltons are visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future.

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, and I wish the Waltons the gift of a soul and a conscience and a new birth of concern for their fellow men and women.

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