Walton money talks in education. We know that, witness influence, to name two, in University of Arkansas and Little Rock School District governance and program emphasis. It's playing out currently on the state level in a debate over charter schools. Among others, a key Walton Foundation employee, Naccaman Williams, has an ethically conflicted role in the debate as a member of the state Board of Education and the Waltons' paid lobbyist, Luke Gordy (also a former Ed Board member), influences decision-making from the governor and attorney general on down.
Thanks to a reader who pointed out news in Washington, D.C., this week that the Walton Foundation had promised $25 million to District of Columbia schools. Condition: Michelle Rhee continue to be employed as head of the District of Wal-Mart schools.
Some places (here's an example at Yale) refuse even enormous gifts when they are encumbered by strings that threaten independence. Politicians are more inured to the money-talks model.