by Max Brantley
The State Board of Education renewed approval for a couple of charter schools yesterday, both despite failure to meet financial standards. In one case for sure, the Walton Family Foundation stepped in to prop up the charter school with money to win a continuation of a school in Imboden. That influx of money leaves a school that failed to meet state standards alive for taxpayers full support for at least one more year.
It's not the sort of compassionate reprieve the Walton-financed education "reformers" like to see for regular public schools that don't meet arbitrary benchmarks. But note for the record: Board member Naccaman Williams, an employee of the Walton Family Foundation that provided the money to keep the Imboden school alive, apparently voted on this issue. He disclosed his connection publicly, probably because of complaints here previously, but he announced he had no conflict. Let's see: He's paid by a group that took an advocacy role on a matter up for his vote. This is not a conflict? I don't think even an Arkansas legislator would argue this. Put it this way: Is Williams likely to vote against something his foundation is financing? If the answer is no, he's not a neutral evaluator.