Who knew that being a billionaire would enable you and your family to buy an entire school district and even the state board of education? It isn’t that difficult, if you have enough money. Do we live in an oligarchy?


This letter was published in response to Max Brantley’s article (posted this morning) about the Walton takeover of the Little Rock School District. I am posting it here not because it is Little Rock but because it could be your city, your state.






August 14, 2014 Wal-Mart and The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation bought a partnership allegiance and loyalty from the Arkansas Department of Education through a partnership because of their $325,000,000 in contributions and payments to various organizations (http://www.arkansased.org/public/userfiles… ). This with Lobbyist Gary Newton, nephew of ADE Board member Diane Zook (Arkansas Learns/Lobbyist #142 on Arkansas Secretary of State Registered Lobbyist Report: http://www.sos.arkansas.gov/elections/Docu… paved the way for the Arkansas State Board of Education to be bought.


Below are the Arkansas State Education Board members that voted for the State Takeover of the Little Rock School District. All of their affiliated organizations are funded by Wal-Mart(Walton Family Foundation) and/or The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. It is obvious that these powerful organizations had influence, voting power, and now control. Their goal is to seize control of local school boards and privatize education. After viewing their affiliations, look at the Forward Arkansas Steering Committee that they put together to dictate where local funds should go. This is the epitome of BIG BUSINESS privatizing local funds.


These are the members that voted for a state takeover of a School District with 6 of 48 schools in academic distress. Wal-Mart/Rockefeller Connection are as follows:
· Toyce Newton, Phoenix Youth & Family Services Inc.
o Member of the Arkansas State Board of Education
o Former Chair of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation Board (The same Foundation that the board selected to run the LRSD http://www.phoenixyouth.com/about.html
· Vicki Saviers, “She was selected to State Board of Education because of her volunteering and charity.
o Member of the Arkansas State Board of Education
o Member of the Advisory Board for the UA Office for Education Policy
o “The district will be forced to make many difficult decisions in the future, including the removal of staff and closing of schools,” said board member Vicki Saviers, who submitted the takeover motion. (USA Today http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/… )
· Diane Zook, Aunt Gary Newton (Head of the Wal-Mart funded Lobby Group, Arkansas Learns.
o Member of the Arkansas State Board of Education
o https://dianeravitch.net/2015/01/29/arkansa…
o http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archi…


· Kim Davis, Board Member, Arkansas State Board of Education
o Employment is funded by Wal-mart, Sam’s Club, Tyson, and The Walton Family Foundation http://www.nwacouncil.org/pages/about-us/
o Arkansas State Board of Education Member
o Voted for State Takeover of LRSD (Conflict of Interest?)
o Member of Forward Arkansas Steering Committee (How can he vote for a takeover and have influence on where LRSD funds will be spent?)
o http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archi…
On October 18, 2004 Gary Newton (Arkansas Learns) created a Corporation (Arkansans for Education Reform Foundation) along with Glenn Borkowski, Luther Gordy, William Dillard, Clairborne Deming, Walter Hussman, and (of course…) Jim Walton. (Print media Note)Why does Cynthia Howell with the Dem Gazette reference Gary Newton like he is not a PAID LOBBYIST. Link: http://www.sos.arkansas.gov/corps/search_c…


#WAL-MART BUYS A SCHOOL DISTRICT through FORWARD ARKANSAS (will they be the “non-profit” that will run the district)? WOW! Look at the connections!


Below is the Steering Committee for The Forward Arkansas Initiative. According to the Forward Arkansas Website (http://www.forwardarkansas.org/forward-tea…) “The steering committee is made up of education, business, government and civil society leaders who share a common goal: improving education in all four corners of the state”. However, they failed to mention, they also share another common bond… Most of their organizations are funded by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and/or the Walton Family Foundation (Wal-Mart). Additionally, four of the five Arkansas Board of Education members that voted to takeover the Little Rock School District are part of organizations that are funded by The Wal-Mart (Walton Family Foundation) or The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. This is a direct conflict of interest. There are NO classroom educators from the LRSD on the Committee and they will face NO OVERSITE or local control. This steering committee is now in control of dictating the future of the LRSD.


Jared Henderson, Project manager for the Forward Arkansas Initiative
• Sole person designing Education in the LRSD
• Bio: http://www.arkansasbusiness.com/people/lis…
• He is not from Little Rock?
• Former Senior Vice President for Teach for America
• Teach for America Delta received $4,000,000 from The Walton Family Foundation (link: http://www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org/abou… )
• Teach for America Builds facility in Helena-West Helena (first in nation. could this experiment happen in Little Rock? What happens to teachers not part of this network?): http://www.helena-arkansas.com/article/201…
• Holds an undergraduate degree from UA-Fayetteville in Computer Science and Physics?
• He has never taught in the LRSD
• Served on Board of AR Kids Read
• Look at the Sponsors: http://arkidsread.org/sponsors/ (The majority of the contributors have a representative in the Forward Arkansas Steering Committee. This is NOT DIVERSITY and this DOES NOT INVOLVE THE COMMUNITY)
• $10,000 + contributors include: Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, Fifty for the Future, Arkansas United Way, and Entergy
• $5,000-$9,999 contributors include: Arvest (Wal-Mart Bank), Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods, Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, J.A. Riggs Tractor Company


Shane Broadway, Director, Arkansas Department of Higher Education
• Member, Benton Chamber of Commerce, present
• Board Member, Bryant Boys and Girls Club, present
• Member, Bryant Chamber of Commerce, present
• Board Member, Central Arkansas Development Council, present
• Member, Entrepreneurial Advisory Committee, Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges
• Board Member, Quality Teaching and Learning Centers, present


Toby Daughterey, Lead Recruiter and Outreach Coordinator, The STAND Foundation
• Significant Funding from the Rockefeller Foundation: http://70-40-216-95.bluehost.com/grants/re…


Kim Davis, Board Member, Arkansas State Board of Education
• Employment is funded by Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Tyson, and The Walton Family Foundation
• Arkansas State Board of Education Member
• Voted for State Takeover of LRSD (Conflict of Interest?)


Bill Dillard III, Vice President, Dillard’s Inc.
• Serves on the board at eStem Public Charter Schools
• Serves on the board at The Arkansas Education Reform Foundation (received $7,000,000 from the Walton Family Foundation, link: http://www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org/abou… )


Marcy Doderer, President and CEO, Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock


Matt Dozier, President and CEO, Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) Initiative Bob
• February 2, 2015 EAST received $35K from the Rockefeller’s: http://www.eastinitiative.org/newsopportun…
• Significant Wal-Mart funding: http://www.eastinitiative.org/
• Significant Wal-Mart funding: http://www.eastinitiative.org/newsopportun…
• Significant Wal-Mart funding: http://www.eastinitiative.org/newsopportun…


Bob East, Co-Founder, East-Harding Inc.
• Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce


Joyce Elliot, Arkansas State Senator
• Chairman, Joint Budget Committee (JBC) – Peer Review
• Chairman, Arkansas Legislative Council (ALC)-Higher Education Subcommittee
• Chairman, Vision 2025 Legislative Commission on the Future of Higher Education
• Chairman, Whole Child-Whole Community Program
• Chairman, Arkansas comprehensive School Improvement Plans


Melanie Fox, Co-Founder, J&M Foods
• The Anthony School Board of Trustees: http://www.anthonyschool.org/BoardofTruste…
• What makes her qualified?


Diana Gonzales Worthen, Director, Project RISE at University of Arkansas at Fayetteville
• Conducted Study funded through the Rockefeller Foundation


Lavina Grandon, Founder and President, Rural Community Alliance
• A partner Organization of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation
• Links: http://thenewrural.org/?x=0&y=0&s=rockefel…


Tom Kimbrell, Superintendent, Bryant Public Schools


Ginny Kurrus, Former State President, Arkansas PTA
• Rockefeller connection: http://www.woodlandsedge.com/winthrop-poin…
• Member of the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce


Michele Linch, Executive Director, Arkansas State Teachers Association
• Former Director of Arkansas Leadership Academy’s Teacher Leadership Institute (Viki Saviers, who supported LRSD State takeover is on the board of this organization)


Hugh McDonald, President and CEO, Entergy Arkansas Inc.
• Arkansas Chamber of Commerce member
• Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce Member
• Arkansas Research Alliance Board member (Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation Board Member Jerry Adams is the President of the Arkansas Research Alliance, link: http://www.wrfoundation.org/who-we-are/lea…)


Justin Minkel, Elementary School Teacher, Jones Elementary School in Springdale
• Teach for America alumnus
• Page 23 Teach for America Link: http://files.givewell.org/files/unitedstat…
• Walton Family gives $49,000,000 (estimated $100,000,000 by now) to Teach for America: http://waltonfamilyfoundation.org/mediacen…
• Springdale, Arkansas Teacher


David Rainey, Assistant State Director, JBHM Education Group
• Bio: http://stc.arkansas.gov/itleaders/stcmembe…
• Jackson, MS Article: http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2009/…


John Riggs IV, President, J.A. Riggs Tractor Company


Scott Shirey, Founder and Executive Director, KIPP Delta Public Schools
• KIPP: Delta’s significant contributions include the following:
• Walton Family Foundation $100,000+
• Helena Public Facilities Board $25,000—$99,000 (why is public funding privately ran entities)
• Wal-Mart Stores $10,000+
• Mr. and Mrs. Randy Zook $1,000-$4,999
• Mr. Garry Newton
• An additional $8,800,000 from the Walton Family Foundation according the 2013 Grant Report http://www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org/abou…
• KIPP Delta School Directors (Principals) ALL come from teach for America (They have do not have the same Teaching Certificate Requirements as required by the state. Link: http://www.kippdelta.org/our-leadership-te…
• Walton Family gives $49,000,000 (estimated $100,000,000 by now) to Teach for America: http://waltonfamilyfoundation.org/mediacen…
• Look at the Privatized District: http://www.kippdelta.org/our-team-staff-di…
• No Community Input/No Accountability/No Diversity in Leadership
• Board of Directors Chair is the husband of member of the Arkansas State Board of Education that voted for LRSD takeover. Link: http://www.kippdelta.org/board-directors Link: http://www.arkansased.org/state-board/memb…


Ray Simon, Former Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Education
• Member of the B & D Educational Consulting team (Washington DC) Link: http://www.faegrebdc.com/18052
• This firm also specializes in K-12 Education Consulting. The first line item on K-12 Education Consulting page offers strategies on TERMINATION OF TENURED and TENURED-TRACK EMPLOYEES. Link: http://www.faegrebd.com/K-12-Education


Kathy Smith, Senior Program Officer, Walton Family Foundation
• The K-12 Education link on the Walton Family Foundation promotes PUBLIC CHARTERS (meaning the public will pay for the creation of private schools. The schools and administration are not accountable to anyone. NO FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT because it is private, but they will spend public funds. Additionally, these schools will most likely be ran by TEACH FOR AMERICA, not LRSD teachers that live and have a vested interest in the community. Who will get the food service contract? who will get facilities contracts? Who will be on vendor list? Who ensures equitability? Who will you see in the community advocating for students and parents? Link: http://www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org/gran…
• Article “The Walton’s want to Fix Public Education in America” link: http://www.forbes.com/sites/luisakroll/201…
• Look at the Walton Family Foundation 2013 Grant Report. They invested $14,500,000 in a non profit investing firm that specializes in investing in Charter School Operations (Charter Funds Inc.!!!! http://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/p… )
• Walton Family Foundation 2013 Grant Report http://www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org/abou…


LaDonna Spain, School Improvement Specialist, Arkansas Department of Education
• link: http://arkansas-employees.findthedata.com/…
• Served as Gifted and Talented and Advanced Placement Coordinator in the McGehee School District
• Taught in the Tiller School District
• Taught in Delta Special School District
• Taught in McGehee School District


Bob Watson, Former Superintendent, El Dorado Public Schools
• Board Member of Economics Arkansas. Link: http://www.economicsarkansas.org/about_us/…
• Economics Arkansas has received significant contributions from the following:
• Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club Foundation, Bentonville, AR
• Walton Family Foundation, Bentonville, AR


Sherece West-Scantlebury, President and CEO, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation
• Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation Board, link: http://www.wrfoundation.org/who-we-are/lea…
• Board Member Vicki Saviers also serves on the Arkansas Board of Education (Is it a conflict of interest to vote to have the LRSD dissolve and serve on the Board of the entity that will dictate its fate?)
• GREAT LINK: http://badassteachers.blogspot.com/2015/01…
• previously served as CEO at the Foundation for Louisiana


Darrin Williams, CEO, Southern Bancorp Inc.
• link: https://banksouthern.com/news/southern-ban…
• Southern Bank Corp received $1.6 million from Walton Family Foundation (link: http://www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org/abou… )


Kenya Williams, Co-Chair, Strong-Community Leadership Alliance
• Key Partners with the Leadership Alliance…of course Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, link: http://arpanel.org/coalitions/opportunity-…




1. Has there been lessons learned from other school districts that have been taken over by the state?
2. How will citizens of Little Rock have a valued voice if they are not part of Wal-Mart of or the Rockefellers?
3. What will keep citizens from being disenfranchised?
4. Who is in control of transparency…Wal-Mart?
5. If the citizens of the community do not like the direction that the state is taken, how can they gain back control?
6. With the Superintendent and the Education Commissioner in charge, who can citizens turn to for “due process hearings”, local concerns?
7. If the powers that be decide to close a school in a non-valued neighborhood…Who do they turn to?
8. What kinds of accountability will the state be held to?
9. Arkansas Forward is promoting online surveys… How will concern citizens provide input if they don’t have a computer, car, sight, and does this comply with ADA.
10. It appears that Wal-Mart is investing heavily in Teach for America, how will teachers who are certified through the state compete with privately ran schools?
11. As noted, in 2013, Wal-Mart invested $14,500,000 in Charter Fund, Inc., http://www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org/abou… and http://chartergrowthfund.org/invest-with-u… . These are Private Equity Funds that yield returns based on profits. It appears Wal-Mart just bought a School District.