Motoko Rich makes another excellent contribution to reporting about the charter school movement. In “A Walmart Fortune, Spreading Charter Schools,” Ms. Rich tracks the Walmart Foundation’s investments to large charter networks, like the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP).
“WASHINGTON — DC Prep operates four charter schools here with 1,200 students in preschool through eighth grade. The schools, whose students are mostly poor and black, are among the highest performing in Washington.”
Ms. Rich reports that the majority of students in Washington D.C. now attend charters. That’s astounding. The same is true, I believe, in New Orleans.
She also succinctly summarizes the criticism of charter schools:
Critics say that Walton backs schools and measures that take public dollars — and, some say, the most motivated families — away from the existing public schools, effectively creating a two-tier educational system that could hurt the students most in need
I’ve worked in charter schools for most of my career. But they haven’t been part of a large charter network. There is a difference, I think. Part of the difference, of course, is how much backing a large network can get. But especially interesting to me is how few really, really rich people are funding and therefore orchestrating this nationwide movement.
The past month or so, whenever I read about private funding for charter schools, it’s always the same people. And the Walton Foundation is at the front. As Ms. Rich reports, the funding goes from Walton to Teach for America to KIPP, with a little left over for New Leaders for New Schools.