Great  news! Max Brantley reports that the bill to privatize the Little Rock School District was withdrawn and will not be introduced again in this session of the Arkansas legislature.  The lobbyists pushing the bill were all connected to the powerful multi-billionaire Walton family, and many people thought their victory was a foregone conclusion. (See this post and this post for details.)

 

Brantley writes:

 

The rally in opposition to the bill at the Capitol tonight turned into a victory party.

 

Here’s Ross’ take on the decision:”We hear there was pressure from the Walton family who are tired of the bad press.”

 

Indeed. And it will be complicated when plaintiffs in the lawsuit over the state’s takeover of the district — which would provided a speedway to privatization under the proposed law — begin questioning subpoenaed witnesses about their ties to the Waltons and others that have invested big money in wanting to see the district heavily charterized.

 

The public outcry was vital in this defeat, if Cozart can be trusted. I suspect even more vital was the entry of the PTA, the School Boards Association and, particularly, the school superintendents, in the fight. What was about to happen to Little Rock could happen to anyone — a loss of school boards, an expropriation of local property tax millage, the required surrender of facilities for no charge.

 

There are important lessons to be learned here. The Waltons apparently got “tired of the bad press.” Public outcry was vital. The supporters of public education rallied. The public interest beat the Waltons. Don’t forget those lessons!