Mark Johnson's "ClassWallet" program is a costly boondoggle

Somebody should design an app to detect idiots:

Several influential Republican lawmakers and GOP State Superintendent Mark Johnson announced Wednesday the creation of the N.C. Teacher Classroom Supply Program that would be funded by new legislation requiring school districts to transfer $400 to each teacher. If passed, educators would use the ClassWallet app to spend the money and to submit reimbursements for supplies they purchase.

“Giving teachers the maximum control over classroom supply funds is the ultimate local control,” Johnson said at a news conference. “Teachers can be nimble and they can use these funds to buy what they need, when they need it.”

This is even worse than we initially thought. If that money was given directly to teachers, they could pool their resources and make larger (bulk) purchases, and/or contribute to local businesses. But being forced to use an app restricts their choices, and allows for the (huge) inflation of prices. Don't just take my word for it, listen to the teacher:

Keep in mind that the Class Wallet Office Depot site usually will add another 20-30% mark up from the regular Office Depot site. That is, if Office Depot is even a listed vendor anymore. This morning, when I went to do a little comparison shopping on Class Wallet, Office Depot was no longer even listed as a vendor even though it was there earlier in the week. This may have to do with my comments on social media about taking screen shots of the marked up prices on Class Wallet and tweeting them to School Board members.

If you follow the second link above, you can see some comparison shopping she did between Amazon and the ClassWallet Office Depot store. Supplies through that app are literally marked up 40%-50%.

Still trying to find a link between the owners of the app and NC officials, but even in the absence of such pay-to-play, this idea needs to be scuttled before millions in taxpayer dollars are wasted.



The head of ClassWallet ...

... is Neil Steinhardt. Formerly, he was the CEO of MoneyBookers, aka Skrill, a payment platform used for international fund transfers by people involved in online poker and gambling and things like Bitcoin. You can see an interview with him here.