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

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Will Newark Be Next on the School Privatization List?

In early 2005 The Black Commentator ran a piece entitled "Bribes + Vouchers=Black Bush Supporters", in which the author excoriated Rev. Reginald Jackson and the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey as one of the prime targets for the unending largesse of conservative philanthropy groups aimed at minority support for conservative social agendas:

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.

The link to the April 5, 2002 article above, which includes some great reporting on the network of conservative philanthropy, has further background on Cory Booker, now in a heated mayoral race in Newark. That article could have been written yesterday:

The billionaires who fund the American Hard Right are salivating over the prospect of seizing control of City Hall in Newark,New Jersey, May 14. They have found their champion: Cory Booker, Black mayoral candidate from the city's Central Ward, a cynical pretender who attempts to position himself as the common people's defender while locked in the deep embrace of institutes and foundations that bankroll virtually every assault on social and economic justice in America. His benefactors sponsor anti-affirmative action referendums, press for near-total disinvestment in the public sector, savage what's left of the social safety net, and are attempting to turn public education over to private suppliers. Along the way, Booker's soul mates are busy ravaging the environment and trampling civil liberties everywhere they find them.

Booker now seems to have watered down his open support for vouchers, as reported by the Times. Now it seems he is in favor of the Jeb solution, i.e., giving corporate tax credits to companies willing to fund vouchers for kids to attend private schools, church-affliated or otherwise. Can anyone explain to me how tax breaks can be given for the funding of non-public ventures???

If Booker is elected, he is sure to get first-class advice on the matter from Washington.


  1. Tax cuts, vouchers and more testing are the answers to everything, apparently.

    Yet liberals keep talking about Iraq, leaks, unprecedetned deficits and massive corruption when those solutions haven't even been put into place. Clearly, they're not watching Hannity and Colmes.

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