Given the low test scores and low graduation rates in the District of Columbia public school system, few would argue that things need to change in DCPS. Unfortunately, years of experimentation, blaming teachers, closing schools or turning them over to charter school companies has done considerably more harm than good. The question should be asked, why doesn’t the mayor give more credibility to the solutions offered by school stake-holders–students, parents, teachers and members of the surrounding community? The answer becomes clear when we look at who’s been pushing for all this reform despite the fact that IT’S NOT WORKING.
In January of 2012 the Gray Administration through the Deputy Mayor for Education’s office released a report by the IFF (Illinois Facilities Fund) entitled “Quality Schools”. This report was paid for with private money from the Walton Foundation and the report is recommending the closure/turnover to Charter of 37 DC public schools. When you take a close look at all of the money behind these efforts it is very clear the agenda these pro-charter/pro market-based education reform organizations have. Check it out:
Walton Foundation (owners of Walmart) – The Walton foundation is one of the key funders of market-based education reform. Education reform in this case meaning–choice in the form of charters, competition rather than cooperation, deregulation and a lack of accountabilty, no unions, data-based decision making and high-stakes testing. In addition to the IFF, here are the organizations funded by the Walton foundation can be found on their 2011 education reform grant list.
Illinois Facility Fund or IFF – The sole criteria used by Illinois Facility Fund’s “Quality Schools Report” to judge how a school is performing was the DC CAS test scores. Given the controversy over test score erasures, this source is questionable at best. The study was paid for with a $100,000 grant from the Walton Foundation. Aside from providing research and data services, the IFF is also a lender to various “non-profits” one key group being charter and private schools. Is it any surprise that their report suggests that DC turn more public schools into charter schools, which would increase the demand for their service as a lender.
Deputy Mayor for Education Reform De’Shawn Wright – Before coming to DC, De’Shawn Wright worked in Newark, NJ under Mayor Corey Booker and was a founding partner of the Newark Charter School Fund, which was created with the help of a $4 million dollar grant from the Walton Foundation. The Deputy Mayor of Education (DME) is planning to have meetings over the summer on “Quality Education” which are being funded by the CityBridge Foundation.
CityBridge Foundation (founded by David and Katherine Bradley) – CityBridge Foundation is paying for Public Agenda to plan the meetings the DME’s office will be having around “Quality Schools”. CityBridge Foundation counts the Walton Foundation, FOCUS (Friends of Choice in Urban Schools), KIPP DC, Charter Board Partners, amongst its “Partners”. To see a full list of partners go to http://
Federal City Council – The Federal City Council is a group of the District’s most politically powerful business leaders (bankers, the media, etc.) who have a lot of behind-the-scenes influence on what happens in our city.
For more info and to join Empower DC’s campaign to fight school closures please contact Daniel del Pielago at 202-234-9119 xt. 104 or Daniel@empowerdc.org