I used to visit Wal-Mart once a week. It was a great place to get everything I needed. The prices were low, the generic items were generally good and when I found items on clearance, they were very, very inexpensive.
However, I will not shop at Wal-Mart anymore. It isn’t because of their Customer Service (although sometimes it has been awful). It isn’t because the prices or items have changed. And it isn’t because there isn’t one close.
It is because of politics. I’m not talking about National politics; I’m talking about Local politics. Douglas County, Colorado politics – more specifically Douglas County School District politics. The Douglas County School Board offered vouchers to private school students last year. The School District allowed students to apply for the vouchers and private schools (in and out of the district) could “register” to accept the vouchers. The students were awarded the vouchers and could attend any “registered” school of their choice. The majority of the “registered” schools were religious schools. These vouchers took money intended for the neighborhood public schools and funneled it to private schools. Most of these private schools were religiously based.
The ACLU, DCFT (Douglas County Federation of Teachers) and a citizen’s group (Taxpayers for Education) took the School District to court and the courts ruled that the vouchers were illegal. Currently, the Douglas County School Board and Administration are appealing this court ruling. To fund this appeal, donations have been accepted. There have been several groups across the country have donated large sums of money to fund the defense of this illegal program and the Walton Foundation has made a large donation.
What the Walton Foundation has to do with the Douglas County School District is beyond me. Except they are pushing an agenda which includes “Educational Reform.” The Douglas County School District wasn’t in need of reform. It has been a leader in innovation in education and collaboration between the DCFT and the School Board. Well, that is, until this year when the Board of Education decided to allow the Collective Bargaining Agreement expire and cut all ties with the DCFT.
The Walton Foundation, by financially contributing to the legal defense of the voucher program, has shown their support for the School Board. The School Board that does not respect teachers. The School Board that has spouted their political agenda and beliefs, even though the School Board is supposed to be non-partisan. The School Board that wants to privatize public education.
Four members of the School Board are up for re-election in Nov. 2013 and until then there is really no way that I can show how I feel about the School Board and their policies. The policies that, over the last 40 years, have built a public school system that, I believe, was one of the best in the country. The current School Board does not understand that by attacking the Union and teachers that they are attacking the infrastructure that has, historically, done what is best for kids. That is what teaching is about (although teachers deserve to be fairly compensated for their work).
I realize that the attack on the DCFT is in-line with the political climate. Unions are bad. Unions are the cause of all evil. Unions protect inferior workers. All of this is not true of the DCFT AND this was a system that was working beautifully. Why destroy something that is working? Why destroy something that was so inherently good?
The Walton Foundation supports this Board of Education, and I do not. Therefore, I will not support the Walton Foundation. I will no longer shop at Wal-Mart. While I realize that overall the money I spent at Wal-Mart is inconsequential to their financial portfolio, perhaps if others join me…I can dream, can’t I? And at the very least, I feel that I am making a difference. Oh, wait! I’m a teacher. I make a difference every day. I wish that the School Board and the Walton Foundation respected that.