In bits and pieces, the Walton-financed agenda to destroy the Little Rock School District continues.
Take two stories in today’s newspaper:
* BUILDING TAKEOVER: Legislation backed by Walton forces requires Arkansas school districts to turn over buildings constructed with local property taxes to be turned over to any charter school that wants them, no matter how unproven the charter operator, no matter how damaging the charter might be to existing — and successful — true public schools. The first list of such “surplus” buildings has been compiled and was discussed in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today. Good luck objecting.
Having missed a deadline in the old law to work out a sale of the Woodruff school, it can now be claimed by the Walton Family Foundation real estate arm, should it fit their manifest destiny to charterize the Little Rock School District. The same for the former Hamilton Learning Academy. In North Little Rock, this pernicious legislation could scuttle a land swap underway in North Little Rock that involves the current administration building. Good and efficient government for North Little Rock, with a win for the city and the school district? Tough beans if the Waltons want it or any other charter operator wants it. Remember, again, that these are buildings that will be turned over for a pittance with no input allowed fro the taxpayers who voted illage to build them. They’ll become cash machines for private charter managers, who benefit from virtually free buildings and state tax dollars for students.
* TEACHER PUNISHMENT: The Walton agenda includes wrecking teacher unions and that work continues apace. Take Little Rock (as the Waltons intend to do). We learn from the Democrat-Gazette today that the state, which runs the district, isn’t through toying with its school teachers. The Little Rock Edudation Association has agreed teachers will pay more for health insurance and they’ve also agreed to give up two days of work. They worked with district leadership and came up, not with a pay increase, but a one-time $1,000 bonus. Education Commissioner Johnny Key, who runs the school district, isn’t satisfied yet that the budget supports the bonus. He tabled it. He likely is cognizant of how much newly approved charter schools are likely to drain students and dollars from the district. Key, if you don’t remember, carried Walton legislation when he was a senator and is almost solely responsible for the enormous increase in outlay of state money for so-called virtual charter schools, a money-making machine that provides assistance to families who don’t want to enroll students in conventional schools.
We might as well formalize the situation: Make Kathy Smith of the Walton Foundation boss of the Little Rock School District and free her to name the price of whatever she wants.
While you’re at it, thank the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, its payroll supported by city tax dollars, for bringing about this school takeover. Thank Mayor Mark Stodola and the City Board (save Kathy Webb, Ken Richardson and Erma Hendrix) for an unconscionable subsidy that has contrbuted to the end of democratically run pubic schools in the capital city of Arkansas.