We’ve argued previously that the Walton Family Foundation’s (WFF) education agenda is about systematically undermining our nation’s public education system. But, the more research we do, the more we understand that this funding is also tied to other right-wing issues and agendas.
A prime example is the WFF’s $1 million funding in 2011 for StudentsFirst, an organization promoting corporate-style education reform. In addition to their anti-public school agenda, StudentsFirst spent more than $70,000 to try to prevent the recall of Michigan state Rep. Paul Scott (R – Grand Blanc), a right-wing politician who is an ideological ally of the organization.
Scott also happens to be an ardent opponent of gay rights. In 2008, he criticized an opponent for accepting money from gay rights groups, which he called “far left and radical homosexual groups,” and in 2010, when he unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination for Secretary of State, he announced that preventing transgender people from changing the sex listed on their driver’s licenses would be one of his top priorities. That’s right: This was one of Scott’s main priorities, despite the fact that Michigan had an unemployment rate over 14 percent.
Scott was also a consistent ally of Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder and his budget proposals. Snyder’s final budget included a $300 million aid reduction to schools statewide.
It seems odd that an organization that says its goal is to “build a national movement to defend the interests of children in public education and pursue transformative reform, so that America has the best education system in the world” would spend so much money to defend a right-wing Republican who loyally helped his right-wing Republican governor take an axe to the statewide school budget.
StudentsFirst was founded by former District of Columbia schools chancellor Michelle Rhee. Rhee announced the formation of the organization during an appearance on Oprah in December 2010 less than two months after she left DC. Kathleen deLaski, StudentsFirst’s Senior Strategy Advisor, is a former Walton Family Foundation staffer.
We encourage readers of the Walmart 1 Percent to do your own research and help spread the word about the agendas of the Waltons and other members of the 1 Percent.