Arkansas Privatization Resistance Walton Foundation

Citizen Coalition Beat Privatization in Arkansas

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This is what happens when citizens stand together to oppose corporate takeovers of public institutions. Allies of the Walton family proposed a state takeover of the Little Rock School District, because 6 of 48 schools were low-performing. Advocates for the takeover wanted to turn the district into an all-charter district, like Néw Orleans. But community resistance was strong and the proposed legislation was withdrawn:

Education Advocates Applaud the Halt of School Privatization Bill

Little Rock, AR — The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS), a national community/labor table that fights for the public school system, has responded to the success of an Arkansas coalition in stopping a proposed bill there that would have privatized whole school districts across the state.

Statement issued by Karran Harper Royal, an advocate and New Orleans parent:

“Public education activists beat the Waltons in their own backyard. The Waltons were touting so-called ‘success’ in New Orleans, so AROS asked me to weigh in with the facts.”

Karran Harper Royal helped the Arkansas coalition with information about the New Orleans School Recover District, a long-term privatization failure. A letter from Ms. Harper Royal and a parent in Chicago were published in the Arkansas Times this week.

Statement issued by Mark Robertson, co-chair of the Citizens First Congress and a Little Rock parent:

“We are proud that Arkansans recognized that privatizing public schools is a failed strategy across the country and we rejected it here. We need to keep our focus on research proven reforms that we know will boost the learning of every student in Arkansas.”

Citizens First Congress and eight other organizations across Arkansas mounted a campaign to stop the late-session bill, HB 1733, which proposed to turn over whole school districts in Arkansas to private entities if one school within them was deemed “distressed.”

Walton Family Foundation staff members were personally lobbying for the bill.

Statement issued by Jitu Brown, Executive Director of the National Journey for Justice and a leader of AROS:

“We think we can learn a lot from the Arkansas fight. And we were proud to be able to connect parents in New Orleans and Chicago with parents in Arkansas. From now on, we want the great organizations and coalitions who are fighting to save public education to have connections with their brothers and sisters across the country who have learned from the battles.”

The Alliance announced that it would be inviting partner coalitions across the south to come to Arkansas in May to hear from the groups who fought the legislation and to share their own strategies.

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The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS) is a national community/labor table of organizations of parents, students, teachers and community members who are fighting for the public schools our children deserve.

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