When a big philanthropy like the Walton Family Foundation invests $250 million into education, specifically charter school growth, it raises eyebrows. For some, it raises suspicions. As a booster of charter schools I applaud, even as I realize not everyone will. For many, charter school expansion is seen as plot to weaken resources and enrollment in traditional public school systems. For others, like me, the building of new schools is one strategy for improving educational outcomes of children marginalized by race and economics.
As new schoolers and old schoolers argue the finer points of “privatization” and the “achievement gap,” there is one voice that is surprisingly absent from the mix. That’s the voice of the philanthropists themselves speaking forthrightly about why they invest so much. Stories are told about them, but they rarely respond in kind.
In the video above members of the Walton family talk about how their investments are rooted in learnings handed down from their grandparents, and shaped by John Walton, a member of their family who passed away in 2005.