decision does nothing but further undercut the concept of universal
quality public education." - Kweisi Mfume, Executive Director,
NAACP, on the U.S. Supreme Court voucher ruling.
disadvantaged children had their best day in court since Brown v.
Board of Education in 1954." - George F. Will, right-wing syndicated
Murray, in my opinion, is one of the foremost social thinkers in
this country." - Michael Joyce, former president of the Bradley
Foundation, on the author of "The Bell Curve."
furor over public funding of private religious schools has nothing
to do with the education of Black children. Those who frame the
debate in terms of providing African American youngsters with educational
options are either lying, deluded or simply too desperate to recognize
the enemy chattering in front of their faces.We are now engaged
in a battle instigated by the most racist forces in the nation,
funded by those same ultra-conservatives, and loudly applauded by
their media mouthpieces. The current, wretched White House is in
full Rebel yell on the issue.
is a contest between democracy and the power of money.
Americans, who possess little power and less money, and have yet
to experience the full fruits of democracy, now find themselves
ploys in the Hard Right's obscene and cynical war to destroy public
employee unions and privatize education for the benefit of the rich.
Fully aware that Black communities are in need of, literally, everything,
the ultra-conservatives dangle vouchers. In return for these tokens
of dubious value, we are expected not only to jettison our few allies
in the political arena, but to purge our own leadership and principles,
chief target in this sordid enterprise is the Black Church.
is no redemption whatsoever in such a deal. Indeed, the very fact
that this Devil's Bargain rates a hearing in Black America is extraordinary
testimony to the profound political disarray, material destitution
and abject despair in our communities.
commentary will not concern itself with the minutia of test score
comparisons between public school students and the relatively small
school populations involved in existing private voucher programs.
The data are incomplete and the argument is misplaced, amounting
to a political diversion.
will also not spend time analyzing polls that show varying degrees
of African American support for vouchers. We understand and share
the deep dissatisfaction and frustration with public education.
However, The Black Commentator is written for thinkers and leaders,
not poll followers.
we will explain who is behind the so-called "school choice
movement" and what their
plans are. Those who choose - in the face of the evidence - to collaborate
with the most diabolical elements of American society must reconcile
themselves to their own decisions. They are beyond reason.
Joyce, the Puppet Master
script that leads up the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in late
June, declaring public funding for private, religious schools to
be constitutional, was written by the Bradley Foundation, of Milwaukee.
In fact, Bradley created the school voucher "movement"
with a pen and a checkbook, in its role as Paymaster of the Right.
Since 1985, the foundation has spent close to $400 million to invent
and fund a host of phony civil rights, environmental, women's, small
business, student, and other front organizations tailored to serve
its corporate agenda. The school voucher "movement" was
one such concoction.
modus operandi is quite simple: wherever real people organize to
better their conditions in ways that inhibit the rule of money,
Bradley and its sister foundations invent and fund pro-business
groups as bogus alternatives. The right-wing's media machine then
conveys credibility to the manufactured "movements," and
the masquerade begins.
his retirement this summer, the man who choreographed this devil's
dance was Michael Joyce, president of Bradley and former president
of the equally racist Olin Foundation. Joyce carefully targeted
Bradley's more than $30 million in yearly donations for maximum
political effect. Every cent spent was designed to move the nation
further to the Right.
to the People for the American Way study, Buying a Movement:
Right-Wing Foundations and American Politics, Bradley "illustrates
the power of a well-financed foundation with a clearly articulated
political and ideological vision." Along with the Walton Family
Foundation, of Bentonville, Arkansas - yes, the Wal-Mart Waltons,
who control the largest corporation in the United States - Bradley
owns the school voucher "movement" and everybody
in it. That includes Black voucher operatives, in particular.
of "The Bell Curve"
have no fear of overstatement in declaring the following: The Bradley
Foundation is as thoroughly and methodically racist an organization
as anything seen since the German Ministry of Propaganda, under
the Nazis. This publication would never use a Nazi analogy lightly.
Based on the scale of Bradley's relentless cultivation and dissemination
of racist propaganda, this one fits.
Bradley conjured up school vouchers as a public policy issue and
arranged rent and salaries for the phony "movement," it
financed the career of Charles Murray, author of "The Bell
Curve," the infamous 1994 book that bestowed academic and media
authenticity to the theory that Blacks are intellectually inferior
to whites. Murray toiled for years in the racist vineyards of the
Bradley-funded Manhattan Institute, a right-wing think tank housing
a menagerie of academic bigots.
"The Bell Curve" got too hot for even the Manhattan Institute
to handle - reminiscent, as it is, of Nazi race superiority "scholarship"
- Joyce transferred Murray's $100,000 yearly checks to the Washington-based
Institute (AEI), where the academic continued churning out his poison.
In total, Murray amassed in excess of $1 million from Bradley, his
reward for creating an atmosphere in which racism in its most primitive
form is an acceptable element of public discourse. Reich Minister
Joseph Goebbels would be proud.
President Joyce was delighted with his investment, and promptly
set up young, Indian-born Dinesh D'Souza with an office at Bradley-funded
AEI. D'Souza's $100,000-plus salary is provided by Joyce's old friends
at the Olin Foundation. His mission complimented Murray's work.
D'Souza's 1995 book, "The End of Racism: Principles for a Multiracial
Society" figured prominently in the People for the American
Way report, Buying A Movement:
argues that black culture, particularly poor black culture, is
pathological, and that "[f]or many whites the criminal and
irresponsible black underclass represents a revival of barbarism
in the midst of Western civilization
blacks can close the civilization gap, the race problem in this
country is likely to become insignificant."
states that the moral legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "remains
ambiguous" because he "was never able to...raise the
competitiveness and civilizational level of the black population."
cash that has gone into D'Souza's and Murray's pockets represents
only a fraction of the foundation's investment in hate. Bradley
finances a wide network of think tanks and publications that provide
speaking venues and publicity for the foundation's racist hit men,
multiplying the impact of their "ideas" until they finally
enter and even dominate mainstream discussion.
Nazi analogy stands. Under Michael Joyce's stewardship, the Bradley
Foundation mounted sustained, multi-million dollar campaigns to
convince business, political, academic and media leaders, as well
as the general population, that African Americans are intellectually
inferior and pathological, uncivilized barbarians - campaigns
that remain at full throttle.
is the putrid source of the school voucher "movement,"
the place of its genesis and ongoing sustenance. Everything and
everyone associated with Bradley is hopelessly tainted by the stench
of bigotry. Yet, it reaches out to embrace Black churches.
school voucher arena is only one department of Bradley's ministry
of propaganda and infiltration. The foundation is massively involved
in buying its way into all areas of public policy. The first and
best source of information on this most insidious of Hard Right
institutions is MediaTransparency.org.
Here is the site's broad outline of Bradley's reach:
supports the organizations and individuals that promote the deregulation
of business, the rollback of virtually all social welfare programs,
and the privatization of government services. As a result, the
list of Bradley grant recipients reads like a Who's Who
of the U.S. Right. Bradley money supports such major right-wing
groups as the Heritage Foundation, source of policy papers on
budget cuts, supply-side economics and the Star Wars military
plan for the Reagan administration; the Madison Center for Educational
Affairs, which provides funding for right-wing research and a
network of conservative student newspapers; and the American Enterprise
Institute for Public Policy Research
Bradley grantees include the Free Congress Research and Education
Foundation; the Hoover Institute on War, Revolution, and Peace;
and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. There are the major
conservative publications, such as The Public Interest, The
National Interest, and The American Spectator. And
there are organizations set up to play specific roles in promoting
the right-wing agenda, such as the Institute for Justice, a public
interest law firm that promotes privatization and deregulation,
and the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, a vehicle
for building support for privatization in low-income communities.
was the Bradley-funded Institute for Justice that litigated the
Cleveland voucher case to final success before the U.S. Supreme
defined African Americans in the public mind as unintelligent barbarians,
the Bradley Foundation seeks to redefine education to suit
the circumstances. The answer to the "Black problem,"
of course, is privatization - that's the solution to all problems,
the beginning and end of every thought in the corporate mind.
and its fellows on the Hard Right don't give a damn about African
American kids - who are destined for depravity, in their view, anyway
- and are not really that keen on exploiting the potential Black
private educational "market."
Ghettos are, after all, full of problems. The major corporate players
would just as soon leave exploitation of inner-city school demographics
to bush leaguers like Edison Schools, various minority entrepreneurs,
and favored ministries. The real prize is the general market in
primary and secondary education - the broad mass of white folks
- valued at around $300 billion a year. Now, that's worth the investment
in all those phony voucher groups.
day after the Supreme Court's voucher ruling, ultra-conservatives
were ready with redefinitions of educational rights. "Choice
in education is now as much a civil right as voting," said
Duane Parde, executive director of the American Legislative Exchange
Council, an umbrella group of pro-voucher state lawmakers.
carefully when these people speak. The Hard Right had anticipated
its June victory for years. They have formulated a political and
legal position that closely mimics that of civil rights lawyers
of a generation ago: that the state has an obligation to ensure
that citizens' rights are effectively enjoyed. If a citizen
has a right to a certain level of health care, for example, then
the state must ensure that he effectively enjoys that right, paying
for the care, if necessary. By a similar logic, if "choice
in education is now as much a civil right as voting" - a basic
right - then the government has the responsibility to make it possible
for all citizens to avail themselves of the effective use of vouchers
or other such mechanisms.
to this reasoning, everybody, rich and poor, urban and suburban,
religious and secular, must have access to vouchers that effectively
allow them a choice of schools. It also means the end of public
education as we know it, not just in areas where schools are "failing,"
but everywhere. Public education is to be redefined as a
market, wide open to corporate domination.
is precisely what the man who claims to have "created"
the concept of school vouchers is looking forward to. Economist
Milton Friedman's opinion counts for a great deal among voucher
supporters. In a New York Times opinion piece published one week
after the Cleveland voucher decision, Friedman spelled out what
he and his corporate patrons have always had in mind:
the voucher amount to $7,000 - the sum that Ohio state and local
governments now spend per child in government schools - and make
it available to all students, not simply to students from low-income
families, and most private schools accepting vouchers would no
longer be religious. A host of new nonprofit and for-profit schools
Cleveland vouchers are worth $2,250. On another occasion, Friedman
privatization of schooling would produce a new, highly active
and profitable industry."
is a senior research fellow at the Bradley-funded Hoover Institution.
He also runs his own foundation, which became a junior partner with
Bradley in manufacturing the Black Alliance for Educational Options
(BAEO). In the April 5 issue
of The Black Commentator, we described the BAEO as "a wholly-owned
subsidiary of Bradley and Walton [foundations], who play tag team
coughing up the dollars that keep its board members on the hustle."
role was pure propaganda. No sooner had Bradley formed the BAEO
in August, 2000, than Friedman took charge of its coming-out party,
a media campaign that the Christian Science Monitor valued at $3
million, aimed at African American audiences. Essentially, the BAEO
is a media creation.
of the Poisoned Tree" painstakingly documented the BAEO's
financial underpinnings and the backgrounds of its "motley
crew" of Black hustlers, Republicans and ambitious upstart
politicians. BAEO is chaired by Dr. Howard Fuller, whose Institute
for the Transformation of Learning received over $1 million between
1996 and 2000 - every cent of it from Bradley.
question is: Why does Bradley, a foundation that reeks of hatred
and contempt for African Americans, many of whom it believes to
be uneducable, spend millions creating a Black education front group?
It's all about redefining.
Fuller told the supplicants who had journeyed to Milwaukee to join
in Bradley's BAEO venture that their job was "to change the
face" of the voucher "movement." Three million dollars
worth of Friedman's black-face did that little media trick, but
the larger task has always been in the hands of Bradley President
Michael Joyce and his army of lawyers, public relations men and
political spin masters, strategically situated throughout the foundation's
right-wing funding network and among receptive media. It is they
who redefined the issue. Vouchers were to be presented as
a pro-Black proposal, rather than a corporate offensive against
American public education. All the BAEO had to do is show up and
the Unions, Destroy Black Leadership
major forces stand in the way of wholesale corporate raiding of
public education: Black leadership and organized labor, primarily
teachers unions. African Americans harbor an almost mystical attachment
to education, long believed to be the one reliable route out of
degradation. Historically, no issue has had a higher priority among
Black leadership, whoalso rank as the nation's most pro-union political
grouping at all levels of elected office - federal, state and municipal.
The teachers unions' stake is obvious. In numbers and reliability,
the two groups represent the heart of the Democratic Party - or,
at least, its progressive wing.
voucher offensive is designed to crush both of them. It goes without
saying that privatization will decimate the unions. The Black leadership
problem is almost as straightforward. The current crop of African
American office holders must either be made to submit - that is,
break with the unions - or be replaced.
African American leadership is being invented, enlisted, wooed,
bribed, tricked and conned into service of the voucher "movement"
at stunning velocity, causing utter confusion in the ranks of Black
politicians and educators. Black America has never before faced
the raw power of money on this scale. At no time in our history
has cash been offered so freely to Black people of no previous interest
to the captains of capital. The experience is entirely unprecedented
- and deadly dangerous.
electoral arm of this offensive was launched in Newark, New Jersey,
this year. Bradley Foundation darling Cory Booker, a BAEO board
member, was defeated in his mayoralty bid, but his impressive showing
clearly emboldened the financiers. (See BC April
5, May 8 and May
evidence suggests that Alabama Rep. Earl Hilliard's defeat at the
hands of a well-financed conservative Black opponent, in June, was
related to the Bradley-inspired electoral strategy. There is absolutely
no doubt that ultra-conservative cash and compliant candidates of
color will soon appear in previously off-limits Black precincts
across the nation.
network of support is being prepared to welcome these Black Trojan
Horse candidates. Churches are the main targets of the privatization-voucher
juggernaut. It is within these congregations that Bradley and the
GOP hope to create an electoral base for their bought-and-paid-for,
alternative Black leadership.
faith and need is to be put at the service of corporate profit and
'Big House' in Milwaukee
Joyce has spent 15 years selectively cultivating churches in Milwaukee,
attempting to erect a showcase of alternatives to public schools
and government service delivery systems. If this sounds like the
Bush administration's Faith-based Initiative, which would funnel
public monies through church organizations, it is because the Initiative
is - like so many other GOP social policy formulas - a Bradley Foundation
and its political soul mates are, of course, the chief culprits
in demonizing and neglecting inner-city education over the course
of several generations. The foundation starves the public schools
in its hometown, Milwaukee, tossing the system a paltry $60,000
in 2000 while arranging for $20 million to build five new
a colonial governor, Bradley looms over Black Milwaukee, bestowing
or withholding funds on the strength of political pliancy. The foundation's
money has grotesquely distorted the city's African American political
structure, which consists of those who are favored by Bradley and
those who are not.
was Bradley's Black favorites who welcomed President Bush on the
Milwaukee leg of his recent tour in celebration of the Supreme Court's
voucher decision. The Holy Redeemer Institutional Church of God
in Christ, a Pentecostal congregation, is near the top of Bradley's
list of local beneficiaries. Its pastor, Bishop Sedgwick Daniels,
established the ministry sixteen years ago, about the same time
as Michael Joyce took over at the foundation. This year, New Redeemer
received a cool $1 million from Bradley, placing the church ahead
of its alphabetical neighbors on the foundation's ledger of grantees,
the Hoover Institute and Heritage Foundation.
Daniels does not mind shaking the hand that also dispenses millions
to Charles Murray and other professional racists. He is not troubled
that the political arrangement with Bradley, on which the viability
of his church's two vouchered schools is predicated, cannot possibly
be replicated to serve the needs of millions. His ministry
smiling Black faces providing the backdrop, George W. Bush paid
homage to the racist political machine that Michael Joyce built:
Bradley Foundation has always been willing to seek different solutions.
They've been willing to challenge the status quo. They'd say,
where we find failure, something else must occur. And the foundation
not only has been kind and generous with its donations, the foundation
also has been willing to help people think anew."
officially retired as president of Bradley on July 5, at the age
of 59. During the previous month, Joyce continually managed to
insert the phrase "social-pathology-riddled inner city"
into a series of goodbye press interviews. His affinities with Charles
Murray and Dinesh D'Souza are genuine and enduring.
White Man in Charge of Black Affairs
will now counsel the Bush administration directly and up close,
in Washington, either as president of his lobbying group, Americans
for Community and Faith-Centered Enterprise, or through appointment
to head the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives.
In the Bush boardroom setup, where rich men understand one another,
titles do not matter. Michael Joyce will be in charge of the administration's
Black strategy. This is fitting and logical since, through the Bradley
Foundation, Joyce is the author of that strategy.
will have many millions of dollars at his disposal, far more than
he controlled in Milwaukee. Bush knows he is in the strategist's
political debt, and will funnel contracts and dispensations according
to Joyce's directions.
coterie of African American collaborators will be well taken care
of. Black supplicants will camp at his door. Republican insiders
expect to see a high Washington profile awarded to the Center for
New Black Leadership (CNBL), a checkbook invention of the Bradley
Foundation and Joyce's previous Hard Right money pot, the Olin Foundation.
Indeed, an alphabet soup of phony African American "alternatives"
to current Black leadership can be expected to appear on the Washington
landscape. That's the way Joyce creates the illusion of Black political
CNBL is a logical roost for Newark's Cory Booker, out of a job since
his losing, stealth mayoral bid.)
our main attention must be focused on Black churches, because it
is through malleable ministers that Joyce and the GOP seek to destroy
and replace current African American leadership. The larger goal
is to mortally wound the Democratic Party, and seize public education
as a corporate domain.
voucher crowd's feigned concern about inner-city education is tactical
and transient - a joke played by bigots on those they despise.
Clergy at the Crossroads
are entering a new epoch, in which it will become ever more important
to keep track of who is the most insane - the Hard Rightists, who
fund anti-Black propaganda every bit as vile as that of the Nazis
while, at the same time, currying favor with Black church congregations,
or the African Americans who fall in step behind them.
Joyce is betting that significant numbers of Black ministers will
lead their flocks down a path strewn with vouchers and social service
contracts. In return, these clergy are expected to deliver the votes
of their congregations to a new class of corporate-friendly Black
corporate determination to subdue every aspect of civil society
to the imperatives of profit, and the fierce racism of those
who are guiding the voucher and faith-based scams, democracy and
racial justice are the underdogs in this fight.
America has the greatest stake in preserving and expanding democracy
and the rule of law. The ancestors demand that we be the last to
marketplace is not a democracy. Markets are manipulated by men with
Americans have not yet taken full advantage of the democratic rights
that were denied to past generations. The potential of Black progress
through electoral and other political methods has by no means been
exhausted. The southern half of the Black population has only been
engaged in the electoral process for less than two generations!
It is sheer madness to even contemplate trading democratic institutions
- specifically, public control of education - in return for "choices"
in a marketplace that is certain to be controlled by corporations.
support vouchers is to endorse privatization of education under
a market system. Vouchers were conceived solely for that purpose.
The men who invented the idea have told you so. Why else would rich
corporations create and bankroll a pro-voucher "movement?"
logic of privatization of education is absurd, and an affront to
the dignity and history of Black people. If urban public schools
are so hopeless that they should be turned over to private companies,
then what about the rest of urban America? If privatization is best
suited to meeting the needs of the poor, then democratic institutions
are least suitable to the inner city. Why not forget about school
boards and city councils, entirely, in such depressed places? Since
poverty persists despite Black voting rights, why not trade the
whole process in for a marketplace solution? Those citizens who
are dissatisfied with the local corporate civic menu would have
the "choice" of moving to another town, serviced by some
to think of it, African Americans exercised just such a "choice"
during the great migrations out of the Jim Crow South. By the logic
of the marketplace - as opposed to the principles of democracy -
these migrants discovered a solution to the voting rights
and segregation problem. Since this "choice" was theoretically
available to every Black southerner, the region's civil rights movement
was superfluous and unnecessary.
Black parents do not have the right to throw away their children's
democratic legacy, won at the cost of so much blood. It is the
children's right to grow up and exercise their own franchise regarding
educational issues. No one has the right to give it away to some
corporation on their behalf. Once privatized, education will never
be willingly returned to the public.
of the white minority regime in South Africa used to dismiss demands
for democratic elections by parodying the slogan, "One Man,
One Vote." Under a Black government, said the racists, the
outcome would be, "One Man, One Vote - One Time,"
since Africans would surely shut down the democratic process immediately
after assuming power.
that is exactly the deal that Blacks - and all Americans - are being
offered by "Bell Curve" paymaster Michael Joyce, President
George W. Bush and the whole privatization cabal. Since the June
Supreme Court decision, the Hard Right has been furiously drafting
proposals for laws and referendums on bigger and more inclusive
voucher schemes. The inevitable result would be to dismantle public
education and place its various components on the private - but
publicly subsidized - auction block. Education would be irretrievably
removed from the folds of democracy. One Vote, One Time -
the dream of free and universal education, gone.
the Black Church say Amen to that?
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