Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Keeping an eye on the power philanthropists

The Walton Family Foundation "invested" about $160 million last year in  so-called Education Reform Grants. That's an increase of about $2 million from a year ago.  The foundation is one of the three biggest and most powerful ed philanthropies, along side the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the one most focused on promoting vouchers and charter schools.

According to WaPo's Valerie Strauss, the foundation gave $49.5 million to Teach for America over five years to double its teaching corps and $25.5 million over the same period to the KIPP charter school network to double the number of students it educates. 

 "The foundation’s strategy is clear from the grants," writes Strauss. "It is funding organizations that it thinks can help scale charter schools quickly and rapidly increase the pool of voucher students."

I would define the Walton strategy a little more broadly. It is mainly about promoting a far-right political agenda that goes far beyond corporate-style school reform. For example, the Waltons, along with the Koch Bros. and the DeVos family, were among the biggest backers of Gov. Walker's union-busting political agenda in Wisconsin and gave millions to conservative candidates in state legislative races.

Waltons are among the 20 richest

In other Ownership Society news, three Walton family members are listed in this year's rankings of the world's richest people. Topping the list again this year is Mexican communications tycoon, Carlos Slim, whose net worth fell $478.4 million in a day to $68.5 billion as of the close of markets on March 2 (poor guy). Slim is followed closely by Bill Gates ($62.4 billion, down $102.1 million on March 2 and up 11 percent year to date.) and Warren Buffett (declined $336.9 million to $43.8 billion on March 2 and is up 2.4 percent in 2012).

The combined net worth of the 20 richest people is $676.8 billion. Nine are Americans, including three from the family of Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Coming in 8th in this year's race to the top, are T-Party sugar daddies, the Koch Bros., Charles and David.

Relative newcomer to the world of corporate school reform, Mark Zuckerberg, didn’t make the cut. He's only worth about $21 billion. 

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