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Colorado: James Walton Fund Is Looking for an Education Director

October 24, 2016

It seems that Walton grandson, James, is trying to spread the Walton Family Foundation vision for corporate ed reform via Montessori schools in Colorado.

james-walton-3  James Walton

Apparently the older Waltons are positioning James to operate his own “fund” in Colorado, temporarily named the James Walton Fund, with the purpose of proliferating the Walton vision of what Montessori schools should be. (Given the Walton penchant for expanding charter schools under the umbrella of test-centric education– and for the Walton affinity for drive-thru “education” organizations like Teach for America and Relay Graduate School of Education– it stands to reason that the Walton goal for Colorado’s Montessori is to process and expand it while melding it with test-score-driven reform.)

As such, the Walton Family Foundation is advertising for an education director to run the James Walton Fund. The following is the complete job advertisement as posted in the September 28, 2016, Chronicle of Philanthropy (note that the same ad appears in Joining Vision and Action and ColoradoNonprofits.org):

Education Director, James Walton Fund (Name TBD) of the Walton Family Foundation

The Walton Family Foundation

Posted: September 28, 2016

Location: Colorado, United States

Position: Administrative

Field: Advocacy, Education, Other fields, Research

Salary: Not specified

Website:http://www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org/who-we-are

Application Deadline: Open until filled

Category: Other administrative

Employment Level: Full-time

About the Walton Family Foundation and James Walton

Sam and Helen Walton had an unshakeable belief in the power of people to transform their lives. As Sam said, there is no limit to what individuals can accomplish if “given the opportunity, the encouragement and the incentive to do their best.” Today, that “no limits” philosophy is carried forward by their descendants through the Walton Family Foundation. Learn more about the foundation at http://www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org/who-we-are

One of the foundation’s three program areas is K-12 education, with this ambitious goal: improve K-12 outcomes for all students, especially those of limited means, by ensuring access to high-quality educational choices that prepare them for a lifetime of opportunity.

This goal has been embraced by Sam and Helen’s grandson, James Walton.

As an engineering undergraduate at Colorado School of Mines, James regularly volunteered with local schools, working directly with students. One day, he walked into a Montessori charter school that had been a previous WFF grant recipient. Observing a group of children independently engaged in learning within a structured environment, it occurred to him:

  • This seems to be a unique and important way of helping children succeed
  • Why is this school model wildly underrepresented within the public school system?

Since that moment, James has devoted his time and his investments to better understanding child-centered approaches. He has worked on the ground as a Montessori high school apprentice and dedicated observer. He started a Montessori teacher-training center. His grants have expanded beyond Montessori to organizations and research that serve students in a holistic way and support diverse school options.

The result? A long-term vision: That all students have viable access to a healthy variety of instructional models, each with an intentional and aligned approach to meeting the unique academic, cognitive and developmental needs of its students.

The opportunity: As education director of this fund, you can join James in the realization of this vision and make a significant difference in the lives of all children.

The Position

The Walton Family Foundation is seeking an education director for the James Walton Fund. The fund’s education director will help to build this new fund/program focused on advancing cutting-edge systems and instructional models in the public school environment that increase parents’ ability to choose schools that include all effective instructional models, particularly non-traditional models such as Montessori.

Ultimately, the goal of this work is to build an evidence base and a network that is integrated into the larger Walton Family Foundation K-12 education work within the next three years. The fund’s education director will work closely with the foundation’s education staff to coordinate, share learnings and adjust accordingly.

Responsibilities:

  • Refine and operationalize a newly developed strategic plan created to reflect the vision and priorities of James Walton in improving educational choice and quality, and increasing the diversity of instructional models
  • Develop a brand identity for the fund/program that is consistent with James Walton’s vision, values, priorities and philosophy
  • Develop local and national presence for the program that reflects the brand identity within the education reform community and particularly the Montessori community. Serve as champion and spokesperson for the fund/program
  • Develop partnerships with key stakeholders and reach out to key decision-makers within the education reform movement and particularly the Montessori community to build a cohesive community of actors working together toward a shared set of objectives and metrics for success
  • Build systems to reward collaborative engagement among branches of the program
  • Oversee grant-making, including due diligence on organizations, their leadership and capacity to carry out programs; defining grant terms and expectations; obtaining agreement on reasonable outputs and outcomes, including how they will be measured and reported; reviewing budgets for appropriate expenditures; conducting site visits; reviewing reports; and ensuring timely payments
  • Identify opportunities to secure additional funding to help grantees fulfill their mission
  • Develop job descriptions, hire and manage an initial staff of four to oversee critical areas of the fund’s work
  • Facilitate ongoing internal communications and professional development of staff within the fund
  • Coordinate and collaborate with the Walton Family Foundation’s K-12 education staff to ensure mutual learning and added benefits, and avoid duplication or competition of efforts
  • Construct measures of success for the fund, the staff, the programs and the mission; track and report progress on those measures
  • Manage the operational budget for the fund

 

Qualifications Sought Personal strengths and characteristics

  • Relationship builder. Must have the ability to manage change by building a network of actors and motivating them toward common goals.
  • Strategic thinker who has the ability to articulate a big vision and influence people to join a movement
  • Innovative and creative thinker
  • Self-motivated
  • Extraordinary relationship and network building talents
  • High energy individual who is secure and confident in self and in decision-making
  • Interest in learning and teaching others; someone who can be both a mentor and a student
  • Sense of humor

Values and beliefs

  • Strong belief in opportunity and equity for all children
  • Passion for, and commitment to, the Walton Family Foundation mission
  • Unquestionable ethics and personal integrity

Skills and professional experience

  • Ten to 15 years of experience in K-12 education reform (in school, district or other settings) or in education systems; work with diverse instructional models a strong plus
  • Demonstrated experience with the interaction of research, policy advocacy, community engagement and systems building in community and social change
  • Significant track record of partnership and network development
  • Exceptional oral and written communications skills, especially public speaking
  • Ability to listen and respond well to feedback
  • Ability to influence without formal authority
  • Experience in understanding and managing power dynamics
  • Experience in managing up, down and laterally
  • Financial and financing expertise
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Experience working with grant-making institutions
  • Political experience a plus

Important Information:

  • Compensation: The Walton Family Foundation offers an excellent benefits package and a salary that is commensurate with experience.
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
  • Work environment: The office will be located in a co-working space in Denver’s RiNo district, which will house other Walton Family Foundation staff who are located in Denver.
  • Reporting relationships: The James Walton Fund education director will report to the director, Individually Directed Program of the Walton Family Foundation, with a dotted line relationship to James Walton.
  • EEO Policy: WFF is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive employment consideration without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, marital status, status of protected veteran, among other things, or status as a qualified individual with a disability.

To Apply:

Applications should be submitted online. Here are the steps:

  1. First, get your cover letter Write a cover letter that tells us why you’re interested in this position. Address each point in the Qualifications Sought section. List the name and contact information for three professional references who can give us more insight into how you are a great fit for this position.
  2. Get your resume
  3. Identify a brief, relevant writing sample.
  4. Fill out our short online application, and upload your cover letter, resume and writing sample.https://form.jotform.com/62644328831963
  5. Click on the “SUBMIT” button.

Questions? Please leave us a confidential message at 720.407.8373. We will call you back within 24 hours.

Become the James Walton Fund education director, and you get to help another Walton impose his privileged vision upon education, this time, Montessori– and scale it, to boot.

But where has James Walton been all of this time?

It almost appears that James Walton has come out of nowhere. Not quite. James Walton has been in Colorado circa 2008. And that “one day” that James Walton “walked into a Montessori charter school” has been several years ago for James, who is now in his late 20s.

But the press on his Colorado-Montessori involvements has been largely nonexistent until now.

Very little is available on the web regarding James McNabb Walton, son of Jim Walton. Furthermore, what is available appears to omit James. For example, this Forbes bio on Jim Walton indicates that he has four children. This Celeb Family bio also mentions James in one place but then lists three children by name. This NNDB bio also only mentions three of Jim Walton’s children by name. James is omitted.

There appears to be a reason for that. It seems that James Walton found himself on the wrong side of the law during his time as a student at Virginia Tech. The following is from an October 2011 discussion thread regarding James’ aunt, Alice Walton’s, 2011 DUI:

This is not the only Walton that seems to have an alcohol problem and knack for staying out of jail. James [McNabb] Walton (grandson of the Walton clan) was arrested and charged with misdemeanor DUI and felony hit-and-run in February of 2008 in Blacksburg, VA. Mr. Walton was underaged at the time, and had just flown into the Virginia Tech campus on a private plane after a hunting trip in TX. The incident occurred at 4:45pm on a Monday afternoon, when Walton slammed into the driver’s side door of an attended vehicle and then fled the scene. The felony charge was ultimately not upheld (thanks to the joke of a Commonwealth’s Attorney in Montgomery County), and Mr. Walton was allowed to quietly withdraw from the university. During one court appearance (at which his mother, father and siblings were in attendance), he admitted to the court that he was attending AA meetings in Denver CO, though still drinking socially; it was at this hearing that the felony charge was effectively dropped pending a 1-year probationary period.

While this incident wasn’t highly publicized, I can provide all of these details because I was the victim of Mr. Walton’s crime. I was also the victim of egregious harassment by the sleazy attorney, Chris Tuck (Blacksburg, VA), whom Mr. Walton’s parents quickly retained to resolve the incident. Mr. Tuck not only made unsolicited, surprise visits to my residence, but continued to call my phone after I had expressly asked not to be contacted.

DWI/DUI may generate state funds, but these laws are critical and should be enforced to protect the safety of other citizens.

I sincerely hope that the Waltons will invest a few of their billions to get help and/or cages for their reckless and careless family members.

Posted by emmyallyn on October 14, 2011

Following his exit from Virginia Tech, James Walton attended Colorado School of Mines.

That’s how James Walton ended up in Colorado.

Watch out, Colorado Montessori educators. If you take the Walton cash, you’ll have to bend to the Walton will.

_________________________________________________________

Released July 2016– Book Three:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

From → Charters, Walton

3 Comments
  1. Martha Toth permalink

    This is very interesting, Mercedes. MOST of that job description sounds great. I really want to believe that James Walton (hardly the first underage college drinker whose parents tried to shield him from responsibility, yet one who may well have gotten the message and cleaned up his act) has different ideas based on open-eyed experience. Could he be the camel’s nose under the Walton family tent?
    In more than a decade of working with similarly privileged college students as mentors, I found that many or most of them had their eyes opened to how circumstances shape destiny. They realized their own advantages and the corollary: that many young people have as much ability but much less support to realize their potential. A major objective of our mentoring programs was to develop a sense of agency in these young people, who too often drifted through their lives as victims rather than actors. Montessori schools have the same focus on personal agency, except they instill it much earlier in life.
    I wish every child had access to such schooling, which allows and encourages them to pursue their own interests in a systematic way. Moving the vast sums of edu-philanthropy to support of Montessori-style schools could return the charter experiment to what it was supposed to have been: an exploration of better ways to serve children. There also seems to be no reason why such demonstration projects could not be done within receptive traditional public school districts.
    That said, I also know from many years in the non-profit world that money can be corrupting. It is all too easy to bend your values to fit your funder’s aims. Still, I would love to see a strong and experienced person get in there and start a revolution from within the enemy camp.

  2. John permalink

    I think ‘engineering student at the Colorado School of Mines’ is as frightening as the use of the word, ‘operationalize’. Engineers are taught that certainty exists, and that it is in mathematical form. Yes, math teachers, those webs you spin are useful. However, you will recall, Goedel proved that they were incomplete. Engineers don’t know this, are not taught this.

    I’m sure that some people with engineering degrees understand the limitations of the models they use, but they are in the minority. And, BTW, note that James is said to have been “an engineering undergraduate”, but not to have matriculated.

    Lest you think I’m some ‘fuzzy Humanities guy’ with an axe to grind, let me inform you that I have an undergraduate degree from Case Institute of Technology (before it ‘joined’ with Western Reserve University) which had both excellent engineering programs and science programs. The general pattern was for students to start out in a science (or pure mathematics, deductive logic) program and then, in several steps, ‘drop into’ an engineering program. Engineering students felt far more comfortable in the acceptance of a revealed truth than they did with the fuzziness of science, that striving toward the impossible dream involving continuous self-doubt.

  3. Juanita C. Valero permalink

    I wish I could be as generous as the above commenter, and assume that young James learned a lesson through his brush with the law, that he has only good intentions in mind for American public education, and that he is the camel’s nose under the family tent. We all want to believe that. The politics of the Walton Family Foundation, though, are clearly and explicitly directed at privatizing education. Historically, it has always been the wealthy who want less government interference, (because democratic governments serve as equalizers). They enlist the 99% in their endeavor to get government out of the way, by convincing us their work is giving us more freedom and more choice. That sounds good, and we eagerly subscribe to it. But it’s important to remember that if we want democracy, we absolutely want and need our democratically elected government to provide oversight over curriculum and instruction. History is written by the winners, as they say. From what I know about Montessori, it’s a worthy alternative to provide in our schools, and it seems to be gaining in popularity. One certainly hears more about it than one did 10 or 15 years ago. And it gives the Walton family the appearance of offering us more humanistic choices through their generous philanthropy. But don’t forget that, first of all, they wouldn’t need to engage in philanthropy if they weren’t on the public dole in the sense of paying their workers such poor wages that we the people have to pay for health care for many Wal-Mart employees. Let’s not allow them to act like they’re doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. The origin of the private Foundation in this country is that it is a tax haven.The Waltons’ philanthropy wouldn’t be necessary if they weren’t needing tax protection for a gazillion dollars earned by the sweat of poorly compensated, and inhumanely treated workers. And now they want to turn around and combine that unfairly accumulated money with the ruse of a humanistic form of education essentially to get the 99% to agree to privatization on a large scale. You are so right that charter law was designed to promote innovation. When autonomous local entities propose innovative forms of education, that probably happens. When huge foundations roll out plans for creating charters on a massive scale by bankrolling schools known to be effective and desirable, we have to suspect a different motive. Your suggestion that these demonstrations occur within receptive traditional school districts is the only protection we have against edu-“philanthropists” bankrupting our districts with their privatization agendas. Let them work openly to change public policy. Let them encourage districts to experiment with humanistic education. Let them encourage the federal government to validate non-standardized forms of accountability that will allow these experiments to show up on our radar as successful. But we must not let them use Montessori or any other touchy-feely form of schooling to bleed our government of the power to educate our children.

    The posting for an Education Director for young Mr Walton gives me shudders. A 20-something with exactly 1 year of classroom experience (and that as an intern) seeking a lieutenant to “refine and operationalize a newly developed strategic plan created to reflect the vision and priorities of James Walton…” seeking to “develop a brand identity for the fund/program that is consistent with James Walton’s vision, values, priorities and philosophy” ??? Really? What about community? What about democracy?

    This isn’t Monopoly, Mr. Walton, this is America. You don’t get to spend thousands of dollars implementing your personal vision of schooling unless you are willing to bankroll them yourself. If you want schooling funded by our democracy, you get to participate in the democratic process. The commenter who expressed skepticism about Mr. Walton’s engineering mentality has it right. The Walton Foundation, like so many other corporate ed reformers, seems to believe that is has the intelligence and foresight to design our schools for us, and then, appallingly, have us pay the bills.

    I’m a huge supporter of humanistic education, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that reform in this country needs to happen at the level of the accountability systems. We’ve got school report cards all wrong … and there again is a place where multinational corporations are running away with the booty while we teachers are stuck shoveling the curriculum du jour in the trenches. No method of education will succeed if we don’t fix our testing.

    If young Mr. Walton genuinely wants to make a contribution to our schools he should do that. Make a contribution to our schools … and stop hiding behind appealing front organizations that confuse the public and get us to demand private schools that operate on district resources. Few Americans would have a harder time than James M. Walton, convincing me that they can’t afford to bankroll their own grand vision of schooling. If the Walton Foundation wants the public to pay for schools, they can invest in democratically governed schools for our republic. If democracy is inefficient and troublesome, they can help us by investing in better business practice, or they can go somewhere where they don’t have to listen to the voices of the little people. Montessori charter schools are a Trojan horse. Privatization spells the utterly intentional undoing of public education. We must not take the bait.

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