They didn’t get a lot of media coverage, but two wealthy advocates of school privatization were involved in the unsuccessful effort to unseat House Speaker Joe Straus in the recent Republican primary in San Antonio.
One was Alice Walton, the Wal-Mart heiress who, along with other members of her family, is a major supporter of the charter movement. She gave $180,000 to Jeff Judson, one of Straus’ right-wing opponents. Walton lives in Bentonville, Ark., a long way from Straus’ home district, but she was trying to promote a cause – the cut-rate Wal-Mart school model — not local representation.
The other notable privatization contributor was San Antonio businessman James Leininger, a founder of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, which wants to privatize just about all of state government. Leininger’s special interest is diverting tax dollars from public schools to create a voucher program for private school tuition. He gave $50,000 to Judson.
After losing millions in unsuccessful efforts to promote vouchers several years ago, Leininger kind of dropped from sight as a political donor. But with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick putting vouchers at the top of his education priority list, Leininger must see another opportunity.
Fortunately, Straus won. Unfortunately, both Walton and Leininger have a lot more money to waste (we hope) on bad causes.