by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Aaron Sibarium of the Washington Free Beacon reports on a major corporation’s undue influence on one state’s public schools.
In January 2020, Walmart approached public school administrators in Bentonville, Arkansas, about hosting diversity training sessions for the district.
“We want people to feel welcomed, comfortable, and safe living here” in Northwest Arkansas, Candice Jones, Walmart’s head of diversity, emailed district leaders, according to documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. To that end, the company was offering to arrange teacher training sessions with a North Carolina-based consultancy known as the Racial Equity Institute, a group “devoted to creating racially equitable organizations and systems.”
“This would be great for teacher development and a great way to connect with the community,” Jones said.
By August, teachers were learning that “perfectionism” is “white supremacy” and that “all our systems, institutions, and outcomes emanate from the racial hierarchy on which the United States was built.”
Bentonville—the site of Walmart’s corporate headquarters—wasn’t alone.
In nearby Fayetteville, the district’s public schools embarked on a five-year “equity plan” funded and designed by Walmart-funded groups, including a DEI “research institute” at the University of Arkansas. School leaders attended trainings on the “six tenets of critical race theory,” learned that “systemic inequality = trauma,” were drilled on the harmful effects of “microaggressions,” and sat through PowerPoints on “intersectionality.”
The district also implemented a “restorative justice” program—designed to combat the allegedly “disproportionate” discipline of black students—that discouraged teachers from breaking up fights and instructed them to sit on the floor with students to “dispel any sense of hierarchy.”
This report is based on thousands of pages of documents obtained through public records requests submitted by families in Bentonville and Fayetteville. It reveals how the world’s largest retailer is transforming schools in its hometown through grants, nonprofits, and corporate outreach, laundering its ideology as a kind of noblesse oblige.