WASHINGTON - Despite Walmart running a back-to-school campaign calling on people to nominate a teacher to help them receive school supplies and a $490 gift card – the estimated yearly cost teachers spend out of their own pocket to supply their classroom – the Washington Teachers’ Union is calling out the retail giant for not doing enough to help public schools, especially in Washington D.C.
The teachers’ union blasted Walmart at a press conference Friday and called the promotion “deceitful,” “bogus,” and a “cynical coverup.” The union believes the Walton family, the owner of the retailer, shortchanges and undermines D.C. public school students by providing large financial support to charter schools.
The union is asking its teachers not to spend their money and to boycott Walmart.
"It is not true philanthropy when Walmart is cloaking that campaign under the auspices of wanting to help poor children with teachers buying supplies,” said Washington Teachers’ Union President Elizabeth Davis. “It seems to me that because Walmart wants to give this as a donation to students – that irrespective of the conditions – we should accept it, we should want it. I think that we need to be more conscious in that. We need to teach our students even gifts that appear to be free are not free."
According to its website, the Walton Family Foundation said it has invested more than $1.3 billion for K-12 education since 1992. It has also given more than $386 million in grants to help create more than 2,100 charter schools, and it will commit to spend another $1 billion between 2015 and 2020 to create more charter schools nationwide.
More than 44 percent of D.C. students attend charter schools.
However, D.C. Public Schools said their teachers have enough resources to supply their classrooms.
“DCPS has increased our investments in schools every year for the last five years to ensure that our schools and classrooms have the materials needed for high-quality teaching and learning,” D.C. Public Schools spokeswoman Michelle Lerner told the Washington Post. “We also provide every teacher with $200 to supply their individual classrooms with school supplies.”
We have reached out to Walmart and the Walton Family Foundation, but have not heard back from them.