Arizona school choice advocates lost a friend Monday when John Walton, the billionaire son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, died in a Wyoming plane crash.
Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said the philanthropist played a critical role in putting Arizona at the forefront of the school choice debate. Flake worked with Walton while serving as executive director of the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix.
"Arizona’s efforts to expand school choice were greatly assisted by John Walton’s commitment to improving public education," Flake said.
One East Valley beneficiary has been Tempe Preparatory Academy, a charter school that has produced the state’s highest scores on Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards. Substantial contributions from the Walton Family Foundation in recent years have helped open new charter schools in Chandler and northeast Phoenix.
Daniel Scoggin, a former headmaster at Tempe Preparatory, said he never worked directly with John Walton but benefited from his support.
"Tempe Preparatory Academy, Veritas Academy and Chandler Preparatory Academy owe a debt of gratitude to his vision," he said.