Is Walmart’s Support Of Charter Schools Exploiting Black People For ‘White Agenda’?

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Written by Ann Brown

Charter schools are a controversial issue in the Black community — and they are prevalent. Seventy percent of Black students who attend charter schools rarely have a white classmate, according to a study by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA.

Charter school are typically located in urban and other low-income areas.


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“President Barack Obama championed these publicly funded but independently run schools, whose promise is that freedom from traditional bureaucratic regulation will allow educators to innovate, thus improving student outcomes,” the New Republic reported.

But in 2016, educators and organizations started to look at the negatives of charter schools — racial segregation, inconsistent student outcomes, and the abandonment of neighborhood public schools. Both the NAACP and the Black Lives Matter–aligned Movement for Black Lives called for a moratorium on charter schools.

Now, Walmart has jumped into the charter debate.

The Walmart heirs have been using their money to advocate for Black charter schools, mostly through donations to Black organizations such as the United Negro College Fund and Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

The Walton foundation has pledged to spend $1 billion dedicated largely to expanding charter schools. So far the group has spent about half that amount.

FILE – In this June 5, 2015 file photo, Rob Walton, the retired Chairman of the Board of Directors of Walmart Inc., attends the company shareholder meeting in Fayetteville, Ark. Since 2006, philanthropists and their private foundations and charities have given almost half a billion dollars to charter school groups, according to an Associated Press analysis of tax filings and Foundation Center data, with the Walton Family Foundation being the largest donor.(AP Photo/Danny Johnston, file)

 

This raises many questions about the agenda for the foundation.

The Walton foundation’s reliance on Black faces to make its case for charters suggests that they’re exploiting Black people for a white agenda, said Andre Perry, an education policy expert at the Brookings Institution, in an AP report.

“It’s a sad thing that education reform is about how much money you have and not about what connection you have with black communities,” Perry said.

The foundation gave $9 million to the United Negro College Fund, which has been spent on the scholarship organization’s fellowship program. The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation received $170,000, plus an additional $530,000 to sponsor an affiliated education policy advocacy and campaign training workshop.

In 2018, the foundation sponsored a luncheon at a Detroit conference for the National Association of Black Journalists, which was advertised as “The Importance of Educating our Black Children. The luncheon primarily featured Walton’s pro-charter grantees as panel speakers, AP reported.

Many of the organizations that received money from the Walton Foundation have urged the NAACP to reconsider. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, which has been gifted more than $16 million from Walton, even organized a campaign that included a letter signed by more than 160 Black education leaders directed at the NAACP.

The challenge to the NAACP has heated up.

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,” US News & World Report reported.