Walmart is helping to promote a new ideological film, "Won't Back Down," aimed at supporting "trigger laws" that give parents of schoolchildren a vote to convert a conventional public school (preferably one with a union workforce) into a non-union charter school. The movie is misleading. It suggests a majority vote of teachers is also needed for school conversion. That's not what the existing laws provide.
The legislation is being doled out at cookie-cutting sessions by the American Legislative Exchange Council, the go-to Koch lobby for Arkansas Republican legislators in need of corporate movement bills. Conservative billionaire Philip Anschutz is also promoting the movie.
Walmart, in Arkansas alone, finances wholly or in part an anti-union lobby group, a similarly inclined nonprofit, a nonprofit that provides advice to charter schools, a new "reform" lobby headed by a former Chamber of Commerce executive who doesn't like the Little Rock School District, charter schools and most of the key members of legislative education committees. The year 2013, many think, will be when it moves to take over the direction of education in Arkansas. (Oh, and we forgot to mention the Walton-financed — with an assist from the equally conservative Windgate Foundation — Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, which churns out a steady diet of corporate movement education tracts, and whose financial arrangements the UA refuses to fully reveal despite their definition as public under the state Freedom of Information Act.)
Walmart's hostility to unions and collective bargaining is well known, so its support for a message in favor of stripping teachers of that is not surprising. From Hollywood to a school district near you.