began publication 20 months ago with a warning that the Hard Right
was pushing private school vouchers to drive a “wedge” between
African Americans and public employees – specifically, teachers
unions – and to create a bought-and-paid-for, “alternative” Black
political leadership. The two-prong strategy originated in think
tanks funded by the Bradley, Olin and Walton Foundations. New
Jersey, we reported, was chosen as a launch pad for the rightwing
offensive, aimed at undermining Black support for public education.
a stranger in our house, and his name is John Walton.
several years this Arkansas billionaire (and heir to the Wal-Mart
fortune) has been throwing his money around in New Jersey, seeking
to influence public policy and state politics.
to see the entire Wal-Mart Monster image
shadowy presence is tangible proof that New Jersey is now the
front line of a national struggle for the future of public education
– and for political control of urban America – by conservative
also seeks what I would call the “Wal-Martization” of public education,
through privatization for maximum profit.
years, Walton has been an active supporter of the national voucher
movement, spending millions on voucher initiatives and pro-voucher
organizations. He is intimately allied with the ultra-right Bradley
Foundation of Milwaukee, which used its political and economic
clout in that city to launch the nation’s first publicly funded
voucher program in 1990. Bradley is also a major funding source
for the national voucher effort.
important to “follow the money,” as then-Attorney General John
Mitchell advised the Watergate investigators, because Walton’s
money is now at the center of voucher politics in New Jersey:
Walton launched the Children’s Scholarship Fund in 1999 – giving
$160 million in private vouchers to urban students – he claimed
his goals were simply altruistic. But an Aug. 31, 1999 Wall
Street Journal article reported that Walton “yesterday announced
a parallel initiative to focus on the creation of schools to serve
the burgeoning choice market.” For Walton – as for Wal-Mart –
it’s about market domination. Can “Wal-Mart academies” be far
been alarmed by the stream of disclosures about Wal-Mart’s abuses
of workers and its flaunting of labor laws, so I’m naturally concerned
about Walton’s vision for the future of education.
time to recognize this very real threat to privatize our public
schools for corporate profit, and send John Walton back to Arkansas.
A. Fulton is President of the 180,000-member New Jersey Education