Community members following the bitter division caused by the Ross Valley Charter may be surprised to learn that the self-identified “home grown,” charter was recently awarded a $325,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation (here). The Waltons made their billions exploiting labor overseas and in the U.S., resulting in the shuttering of American mom and pop stores, leaving small towns devastated and the global environment spoiled by rabid consumerism (here). Apparently, the only good thing to come out of Walmart is this pint-sized yodeling sensation. The community has spoken; RVCorp is under-enrolled and the community has united against them. However, in a stunning move, they have aligned themselves with a right-wing family looking to destroy public education and unions, and to fundamentally alter the small towns we love (maybe this legal form came in handy?).
The Waltons are the founders and owners of Walmart, and are the wealthiest family in America (watch Bernie Sanders on the Waltons) who famously made $12.7 billion in one day (link). The Waltons are on an “ideological crusade” to apply their brand of capitalism to public education in this country. In what the Washington Post described as, “The WalMartization of Public Education,” they have invested heavily in charters and vouchers in their well-funded efforts to dismantle one of the cornerstones of this nation, public education. According to this recent and damning work by The Guardian, the Waltons, along with their peers, the Koch Brothers, are also secretly using their dark money to attack and discredit teachers and their recent strikes. Members of the .01%, the extremely politically conservative family apparently believes that their wealth entitles them to set public policy for Americans coast-to-coast. According to Bill Moyers, they’ve had a huge influence on the Los Angeles Unified School District, where they’ve given $85 million for charters, and $1 million to back pro-charter candidates. The Waltons (Penners) even gave $250,000 to defeat a ballot proposition in California in 2006, which would have provided universal preschool to all children, and provided better working conditions for the most underpaid teachers of all, preschool teachers!
But wait, there’s more!!
The Waltons are just the latest addition to a slew of billionaires who are leaving their massive footprints all over our community. As of 2011, the Waltons had donated $31 million to the California Charter Schools Association, where today, the Walton Education Coalition Director, Joe Williams, sits as the Vice Chair along with RVCorp board member, Kristi Kimball. Ms. Kimball heads the Schwab Foundation, which heavily invests and funds charters and other school privatization schemes (read last year’s blog, Who is Really Backing RVC). It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to surmise that Ms. Kimball had a hand in getting RVCorp their first billionaire-backed grant in the form of the $150,000 grant awarded by billionaire Reed Hastings, owner of Netflix (read our blog about that here and check out our diagram of dark money connections here), and put in a “good word” for RVCorp with her colleague, Joe Williams.
Dear community members. If you moved here for the community and small town flavor, anchored by our excellent public schools, please STAND with us to protect it from this right-wing billionaire assault, charading as a feel-good, locally-grown charter school. What can you do?
Hit us up for a sign or magnet: email@example.com
Help us continue our work and donate to our gofundme.
Spread the word! Share these blogs widely with friends and neighbors, on social media, but also IN PERSON! If you have connections at local preschools, even better! We will have packets to distribute to interested folks within a week. Email us if you’re interested in receiving a packet.
If you have friends at the charter, please talk to them. Ask them how they feel about their school being funded by WalMart and ask them to come back to our excellent, truly public schools.
Together, we CAN save our schools and community from the incursion of these billionaire ideologues.