"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Beyond Whittle, Even

With Florida's Supreme Court to rule soon on the constitutionality of the Bush voucher (excuse me, tuition scholarship) plan, Jeb's Plan B has floated to the surface. It works like this. Instead of giving tax breaks to corporations willing to fund school vouchers by giving money to public agencies that would then give the money to private or church schools, Bush's Plan B would allow corporations to give the money directly to the church or private schools and continue to get the tax credits. As the Press Journal explains in this editorial:
In Bush's new plan, vouchers would be funded and administered outside state agencies. This money would never enter the state finance system, thus would not be public funds and would be immune from state rules. Somehow, though, donors would qualify for tax breaks. This plan is certain to face a court challenge because if it is not state money, by what right do corporations earn tax credits?

Now it seems that a similar plan is being offered up in New Jersey, this time fronted by black ministerial mercenaries who have been identified by The Black Commentator in a February 2005 article as hacks who are on the payroll to shape public opinion in black communities, communities desperate for solutions to the continuing problems of poverty. In the clip below, BC makes some other essential connections in the pay-to-play business of promoting school vouchers in poor communities:

The Right’s systematic assault on the Black body politic is dramatically evident in heavily Black and Latino northern New Jersey, a focus of Wal-Mart heir John Walton’s inner city pro-voucher “philanthropy” and Karl Rove’s machinations among Black ministers. The two paths intersect at the Newark-based voucher outfit Excellent Education for Everyone, or E-3. The hyper-aggressive political front can count on about a half million dollars a year from the Walton Family Foundation ($400,000 in 2003) and also benefits from federal Education Department grants to the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options (HCREO), another pro-voucher outfit. HCREO shares funding links (Bush’s Education Department and rightwing foundations) with the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), one of whose founding directors, former and future Newark mayoral candidate Cory Booker (see “Fruit of the Poisoned Tree, April 5, 2002), was also a founder of E-3. (Booker received campaign financing from the Waltons, as well.)

This isn’t conspiracy theory; rather, it’s the result of strategic planning and funding by the Bush regime, the Waltons and, especially, the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation, which invented both the “Black” voucher “movement” and faith-based initiatives in the mid-Nineties.

Also on E-3’s board is Rev. Reginald Jackson, head of the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey. Two weeks before the recent election, E-3 announced:

“In an effort to focus constituents on the benefits of choice, ministers and pastors in NJ began last Sunday (October 17) to deliver sermons on school choice and the need for parents to support the advocacy efforts of the [New Jersey School Choice Alliance]. ‘This is by far the most important, the most vital civil rights issue facing us, and our children,’ said Rev. Reginald Jackson, pastor of St. Matthews A.M.E. church in Orange, NJ….”

The most vital civil rights issue! Not affirmative action, not racism in the criminal justice system, not the right to adequate health care, but vouchers. What a difference rightwing money makes in the priorities of a section of the Black clergy.

Contrary to Eagleton Poll claims that residents of poor New Jersey communities favor school “choice” by up to 75 percent, a recent survey by the Strategic Marketing Group found only 24 percent of Black Newark households believevouchers are the best cure for what ails education in the city. No matter – the twin lures of faith-based funding and vouchers are irresistible to ministers on the make, many of whom operate – or would like to operate – private church-based schools.
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The New Jersey plan, which faces stiff opposition in the State legislature, offers dollar for dollar tax breaks to corporations who give cash to pay for enrollment in private and church schools. So then corporations are to be given money from the public coffers to pay businesses to run private schools? This makes even Whittle sound like a paragon of civic virtue!

Jim Horn

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