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CPS Calls Walton-Funded Advertisements 'Educational,' CTU Calls Them 'Propaganda'

By aaroncynic in News on Apr 2, 2013 6:30PM


Officials with Chicago Public Schools say recent online ads funded by Walmart's Walton Foundation are just “educational” information for the public and not an ad campaign related to criticism over the largest school closing in history. Different ads for CPS, which direct people to a website called “Quality Schools,” have appeared on the CTA, various websites and on Youtube.

In the video below titled, "What every child deserves," a concerned looking CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett says:

“Right now there are too many children throughout our community who simply aren’t getting what they’re entitled to, they’re not getting what they need. It is incredibly painful to walk in these schools and look at our children who are not getting what they need.”

The ads on the CTA ask for community feedback on CPS facilities, and according to DNAInfo, have netted 700 responses. .

The Chicago Teachers Union called the ads and video “propaganda” and said concerns raised at the round of community meetings CPS hosted will be ignored. Jackson Potter, a CTU spokesperson told DNAInfo “It's clearly a method they're using to try and sell a highly unpopular program that will have tremendous, disruptive consequences for the most vulnerable communities in our city.”

DNAInfo Chicago confirmed the advertisements were paid for by the Walton Foundation, a foundation run by the founders of Walmart, which also funded the facilitation of the community meetings on school closings. In January, Catalyst Chicago reported the foundation gave CPS a $478,000 grant to the Children First Foundation, an organization set up by CPS which a spokeswoman confirmed was to help facilitate the “community engagement process” over the school closings. Meanwhile, the Walton Foundation announced earlier this year it invested $3.8 million in new charter schools in Chicago, the largest amount of money given to any city, which dovetails perfectly with the largest school closing any city has seen.

According to WBEZ, the Walton Foundation has invested $22 million in charter schools since 1997. CPS estimates calculated the school closings would plug the $1 billion deficit hole by $560 million, which amounts to $52 million a year. While CPS spokespeople might champion that the “community engagement” process has cost taxpayers nothing, it certainly gives the appearance that the only Chicagoans benefiting from the process are those with ties to charter schools.