Home > Uncategorized > Arkansas Blogger Connects Dots Between Los Angeles and Little Rock… Profiteering Billionaires

Arkansas Blogger Connects Dots Between Los Angeles and Little Rock… Profiteering Billionaires

January 17, 2019

Arkansas Times blogger Max Brantley wrote a post yesterday linking the strikes in Los Angeles with the takeover over Little Rock Public Schools that drew on an article in Jacobin to help connect the dots. He opened his article with this quote from Jacobin describing the real goal of the strike in Los Angeles:

The plan of these business leaders is simple: break-up the school district into thirty-two competing “portfolio” networks, in order to replace public schools with privately run charters. As firm believers in the dogmas of market fundamentalism, these influential downsizers truly believe that it’s possible to improve education by running it like a private business.Not coincidentally, privatization would also open up huge avenues for profit-making — and deal a potentially fatal blow to one of the most well-organized and militant unions in the country, the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA). As union leader Arlene Inouye explains, “This is a struggle to save public education; the existence of public education in our city is on the line.”

As always, the privatizers adhere to the belief that running ANY public enterprise– be it a school, sanitation department, or tax collection– like a business will reduce costs which will simultaneously add to their bottom line AND provide them with a business opportunity. Its “win-win” for the taxpayers AND the businessmen… the children raised in poverty who no longer have an opportunity to attend a quality school and the middle class city employees who lose their jobs are collateral damage.

Mr. Brantley then describes how recently passed laws in Arkansas are giving deregulated for-profit charter schools free reign in Little Rock and, being a blogger in Arkansas, Mr. Brantley warns people across the country to be on the lookout for bills that are headed their direction to do the same things as happened in HIS state AND Los Angeles:

Those of you around Arkansas who think this is just a Little Rock story best think again. This could happen to you, too.

From Jacobin’s enemies list:

The Walton Family

In a watershed moment for the drive to take over Los Angeles public education, pro-charter billionaires spent an unprecedented $9.7 million to buy the 2017 Los Angeles school board elections. A key funder of this campaign to elect charter school acolytes was none other than the Walton Family, best known as the founders of Walmart.

Having made their fortune through union-busting and infamously low wages, the Arkansas-based Waltons — now the richest family in the world — have spent much of the last two decades bankrolling the privatization of public education. Nominally, this philanthropy is dedicated to improving life prospects for low-income families. Yet as journalist Harold Meyerson notes, “a more direct way to help them would be to give workers at Walmart . . . a raise and to give them more hours.”

For the Waltons, their $2.2 million contribution to the 2017 school board election was just a drop in the bucket. Over recent years, the Walton Family Foundation has given $84 million to Los Angeles charter schools and it has spent $1.3 billion on “school reform” efforts nationwide. And in a further effort to capture the hearts and minds of Angelinos, a Walton-funded media outlet, The 74, took over the well-respected LA Schools Report in 2016.

These initiatives have already had a major impact on Los Angeles. About 18 percent of students now attend charter schools, a rate far higher than in the rest of the country.

As Mr. Meyerson notes, the Waltons could provide living wages to their employees if they wanted to help the needy. And if they wanted to help fund public schools across the country they could stop seeking tax breaks when they locate stores in local communities. And if they wanted to help make our country great again they could sell only products made in our country. But if they did take those actions, their profits would plummet and their art museum in Arkansas would only feature the works of local artists…. which would provide them with support but would not attract national attention.

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