Imagine that you are possessed of the surname “Walton” and happen to be sitting on mad coin—say a cool $90 billion. How do you celebrate the occasion that is Teacher Appreciation Day? Do you chip in to give the nation’s teachers a raise, knowing they’ve been hard hit by the recession? Do you send them gift cards to Walmart, the store that hath so enrichethed you? If you are a teacher in Massachusetts, the Waltons have an extra special treat in store for you: a fully-funded gala at the Statehouse urging the replacement of the state’s many non-excellent teachers with fresh new innovators who will share their excellence one renewable year at a time. Happy Teacher Appreciation Day, xoxo Walmart!
You see, here in Massachusetts, the annual occasion on which politicians and advocates for children spend the day bepraising teachers rather than besmirching them just happens to fall right smack in the middle of cap-raising season. For non-excellence lovers: the “cap” is the artificial limit on excellence and innovation that is prohibiting our children from reaching their fullest 21st century workplace skills and prosperity potential. But who among us has the enormous wealth to fund the grassroots movement well-oiled lobbying machine necessary to at last remove the constraints on excellence (and also sneak in a sneaky provision that will force public school districts to hand over “underutilized” property to privately operated charter operators at “rent controlled prices”)? Meet the generous hosts of today’s event, the Waltons: John-Boy, Zeb, Grandma and Olivia Alice, Jim, Rob and Christy. On this special day, we lift our caps to them!
It turns out that Walmart money is paying for virtually every aspect of the campaign to eliminate the cap on charter schools in Massachusetts. Millions in Walmart dough is being steered to the groups that advocate for charter school expansion, finance the construction of new charters, conduct the polls showing growing public support for more charters and place strategic op-eds calling for more charters. Some $2 million of that money, by the way, goes to individual academies of excellence and innovation, like MATCH and Excel, whose students are transformed into junior lobbyists come cap raising season. Breaking news: a new poll finds that support for excellence rises as voters learn more about its excellence.
But who are these Waltons and from whence did their big box of excellence cometh? Worth as much as the bottom 40% of Americans combined, the Waltons “get” that there is nothing we can do about the low wages that cause poverty. What we CAN do, however, is “infuse pressure” into the K-12 education system in order to give poor people a “choice” of education options, much like local businesses are infused with pressure when a Walmart Super Center opens its doors nearby, giving the choice-loving consumer a choice of made-in-China goods.
Alas, the new buffets of choice will also present formerly stifled public school teachers with a choice of what hobby to pursue when their non-excellent schools close, unable to compete with the new “always high scores” academies. (Note: Walton Foundation consultants are available to help guide your community through this *painful* yet *inevitable* process). Meanwhile, for fresh new teachers with enhanced excellence, there will be choice-a-plenty. In fact, since the new schools that Walton is funding are free of union stifling of any kind, teachers can choose to return to their schools when their one year contracts are up—that is if they’re not fired for non-excellence first. Breaking news: a new poll finds that the majority of Massachusetts residents believe that the Walton heirs are “best choice” to determine the future of their public schools.
Reader: you can’t put a price on choice or excellence, which is to say that it’s impossible to determine exactly how much money the Walton family is spending to ensure that low-income families in Massachusetts have a bright future, while still remaining low-income. However much Walmart dough is priming the excellence pump, we can be certain that the Waltons will still have plenty of buckage left over for additional excellence enhancements elsewhere—like the $8 million kiss they recently sent Michelle Rhee’s way. In fact, the Walton heirs have so much money you would have to teach (non-excellently) for 2.5 million years to come close to matching their wealth.
So happy Teacher Appreciation Day! XOXOX Walmart
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