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

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Amway, Walmart, and the War on Public Schools in New Jersey

A lawsuit has been filed in Superior Court of New Jersey to force the State to pay for private (religious or otherwise) education for students who have failed the state test mandated by No Child Left Behind. This represents the opening of, yet, another front in the school privatization war led by well-funded, right-wing conservative groups such as the Walton family, the Amway fortune, and the Bradley Foundation. From the Philadelphia Inquirer July 14:
The national school-voucher fight has arrived on New Jersey's doorstep.

In an action that could change the face of education in the Garden State, parents of 12 children attending failing public schools in 25 districts sued the districts and the state commissioner of education yesterday. . . .

If successful, Crawford v. Davy would let parents use the money that public schools normally spend on their children's education to send them to any school, public or private, regardless of geography or religious affiliation. . . . The proposed class action was filed in state Superior Court in Newark on behalf of more than 60,000 students attending schools in which 50 percent of pupils have failed two of the state's tests, or at least 75 percent of pupils have failed at least one.

The front group for this attack is E3, a group with some prominent black faces who have been called out by The Black Commentator in a piece cited in this post.

Another investigative piece on E3 and its right wing connections appeared yesterday in The Record. Here is a clip:
A lawsuit to apply New Jersey's public-education funding toward private-school tuition has key support from some of the country's most conservative charitable foundations, including those run by heirs to the Wal-Mart and Amway fortunes, public records show.

Excellent Education for Everyone, or E3, the state's leading proponent of school vouchers, has been granted at least $1.65 million from the Walton Family Foundation, a perennial underwriter of "family values" think tanks, Christian schools and Republican candidates for national public office, according to federal tax filings.

E3 also has reaped at least $230,000 from the Morristown-based William E. Simon Foundation, whose stated mission is "to strengthen the free-enterprise system and the spiritual values on which it rests: individual freedom, initiative, thrift, self-discipline and faith in God."

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