(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
A charity organization created by the family of the founder of the retail chain Walmart has given millions of dollars to a pro-vouchers lobbying group.
The Walton Family Foundation has donated $6 million to the Alliance for School Choice, a group that advocates for the expansion of alternatives to public school education.
Matt Frendewey, spokesman for the Alliance for School Choice, told The Christian Post that the Walton Family Foundation "is a longtime supporter of the organization."
"The Walton Family Foundation has been a longtime supporter of the Alliance and they are the biggest private investor," said Frendewey, adding that "the percentage of support varies from year to year depending on total revenue."
The donation by the foundation to the Alliance will greatly aid the pro-voucher organization, as reported by Lyndsey Layton of The Washington Post last week.
"The $6 million infusion will basically double the budget of the Alliance for School Choice, which reported total revenue of $6,380,488 in 2011," wrote Layton.
"Currently, about 300,000 K-12 students around the country are paying for private schools with public tax dollars, according to the Alliance for School Choice. The group says it wants to double that number."
News of the foundation's contribution to the Alliance has garnered much criticism from progressive groups opposed to vouchers, in part, due to the possible violation of the Establishment Clause.
Simon Brown of Americans United for Separation of Church and State wrote Friday that the foundation's monetary support for such an organization was "bad for everyone."
"A lot of people don't like Walmart, and with good reason. The big-box retailer has been accused of paying unreasonably low wages, intimidating employees who complain about poor working conditions and even bribing foreign officials," wrote Brown.
"Now, Walmart has given us yet another reason to shop elsewhere: a foundation run by the heirs of Walmart's founder is pumping millions into supporting school vouchers."
Drew Courtney, spokesman for the left-of-center anti-voucher group, People for The American Way, told The Christian Post that he was disappointed by the foundation's donation.
"Study after study has shown that vouchers don't help kids learn. Our country doesn't need more ideologically driven voucher programs that raid funds from public schools," said Courtney.
"It's disappointing that they've chosen to fund an organization with an aggressive pro-voucher agenda rather than supporting efforts to actually improve our nation's education system."
When asked by CP about the claims of critics, Frendewey of the Alliance for School Choice responded that his organization was not launching an attack on public education.
"The Alliance supports empowering parents and putting the educational needs of children first by breaking down barriers to educational choice," said Frendewey.
"Parents can choose the best educational environment for their child, whether that's a public school, private, charter (which are public schools), virtual, home school, or blended learning."
According to its website, last year the Walton Family Foundation provided more than $432 million in investments centered around social and environmental issues in the United States and abroad.