The Walton Family Foundation, known for supporting vouchers, charters, and other school privatization initiatives across the country, paid $710,000 to NC-based school voucher advocacy group Parents for Educational Freedom NC (PEFNC) in 2013, an increase of more than $100,000 over its 2012 contribution to the group.
Parents for Educational Freedom NC has received large contributions from Walton since at least 2009. The Walton Family has paid PEFNC $275,000 in 2009, $525,000 in 2010, $625,000 in 2011 and $600,000 in 2012, according to the foundation’s website.
Darrell Allison, president of Parents for Educational Freedom NC, has seen his own compensation increase considerably as the influx of Walton money has ramped up. In 2010, Allison received $107,889 for his work running the non-profit; in 2012, Allison reported an income of $156,582—a 45 percent pay increase in just two years.
Last summer, lawmakers passed the Opportunity Scholarships program, a school voucher program that would enable taxpayer dollars to be funneled directly to private schools–$10 million in 2014-15 and $40 million in 2015-16, with the goal of expanding the program even further in the future.
The law, passed as a part of the budget bill last summer, provides little in the way of accountability for private schools while reducing funds for public education at a time when schools are seeing sharp reductions in funding over a years-long period.
Parents, educators, and school boards came together late last year to file lawsuits seeking to block the implementation of the school voucher program. In February, those groups received a temporary victory when a Superior Court judge granted a preliminary injunction in the case, stopping the program from moving ahead pending a final resolution.
A D.C.-based law firm, the Institute for Justice, intervened in the school voucher case on behalf of parents who want the voucher program to move forward. That firm also received a significant donation from Walton in 2013 — $530,547.
The Walton Family recently announced plans to double the number of students enrolled in private schools with the support of publicly funded school vouchers. Naming North Carolina as one state of several where new “parent choice” laws have been passed, the Waltons will give $6 million to the Alliance for School Choice, on organization that provides model legislation for state lawmakers to use as they introduce bills that would create alternatives to public education.
To see the full list of Walton’s grantees, click here.