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[Susan notes: According to the article, Wal-Mart "gave" $159 million to education reform projects in 2011. We taxpayers funded this. After all, this money reduces the amount of income tax Wal-Mart pays. So we pay for what the letter-writer rightly labels Wal-Mart's hidden agenda traveling as school reform.]

Published in Albany Times Union

To the editor

After reading about Walmart's grant to Albany charter schools ( Charity boosts cash to charters, March 8), I examined the issue a little closer.

In August 2011, Jim Blew, director of K-12 Education Reform for the Walton Family Foundation, which is Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s charitable arm, was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying: "We are most concerned about low-income areas where the education system is not working...The goal is explicitly to create competition to incentivize all public schools to improve."

That statement is an interesting dichotomy. If Mr. Blew's answer to "incentivize" our public schools is to single out Albany charter schools as the sole recipient of a $3 million grant, knowing full well that the public schools are experiencing a budget crisis, I would venture to say Mr. Blew's philanthropic archery is a little off target, turning his noble sounding statement into grandiose rhetoric.

Charters are independently managed and free from some of the restrictions that govern traditional public schools, including having to abide by a district's union contracts with teachers and other employees.

Perchance would Walmart's historic opposition to unionization in its own operations be a contributing (if not the deciding) factor in this magnanimous gesture?

The Arkansas-based foundation does not require charters that it supports to be nonunion but, interestingly enough, most charters are.

Coincidence? I think not.

Walmart in its implied quest to improve our educational system, by issuing this grant, has only succeeded in promoting yet another setback for our public schools, by denying them a portion of these funds that they so desperately need.

My late father used to say: "beware of the do-gooders; they usually have a hidden agenda."

Does the shoe fit, Mr. Blew?


Bob Hendrick

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