I was alerted this morning by Cathy Frye, a veteran journalist who spent many years at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, that she’s begun writing about her almost three years as an employee of the Arkansas Public School Resource Center, a Walton Family Foundation-supported nonprofit (aided by some public money) that serves as an advocate for charter schools.
She writes on her blog, “Like a Renegade,” about her time at APSRC. The article includes some criticism of the management of director Scott Smith — “if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit,” she quotes him as saying during a drive to enlist members from the state’s school districts. But her broader opinions are worth following, particularly as we wait to see if the Little Rock School District is destined for more dismemberment by the school “choice” lobby powered by Walton money. She writes:
Based on what I witnessed during my three years at the organization, I feel comfortable saying that APSRC’s purported mission — providing resources and services to public schools — is just a half-hearted cover for the agency’s true purpose – to serve as a lobbyist for the Waltons and their efforts to dismantle public education. That includes strong-arming the governor, GOP lawmakers and Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key.
This opinion is not new. I’ve heard it expressed by other public school advocates and I’ve mentioned the agency often myself as a tentacle of the multi-billion-dollar Walton education octopus. But an eyewitness? It could get interesting.