Minister: Democrats putting special interests above needs of black children

Bishop Jackson
Bishop Jackson

An influential black minister endorsed Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie this week because of the governor’s support for school vouchers. In doing so, Bishop Reginald Jackson also offered a harsh assessment of the Democratic Party.

“It is sad for me to see my party, which embraced the civil rights movement, now in New Jersey blocking low-income and minority children from escaping the slavery of failing schools,” Jackson said, according to several news outlets. Of black Democratic lawmakers in particular, he added, “Every day, they see children who are not getting a quality education and that doesn’t seem to move them.”podcastED logo

In an interview with redefinED, Jackson went further. Many black Democratic lawmakers “have placed the special interests above the interests of their constituents,” he said in the podcast attached below. “The unions … have more influence and more bearing on them than the children who live in their districts.”

Bishop Jackson is a household name in New Jersey and often considered the state’s most powerful black leader. His resume includes a long list of progressive causes. He led efforts to deter racial profiling by state police and predatory lending by banks. He worked to secure more funding for public schools. Asked if supporting school choice was in line with Democratic values, Jackson said, “School choice is in fact an America value.”

His comments come as New Jersey lawmakers continue to beat back efforts to expand school choice while their counterparts in other states – Democrats included – are warming to them.

The key to getting more Democrats to come around, Bishop Jackson said, is educating parents about where Democrats stand. “They have to become aware that the folk whom they’ve elected to represent them right now do not have their children as their No. 1 interest,” he said. “Once we are able to open up their eyes so they can see this, then hopefully they will make better choices in terms of who they put in the Legislature.”

If that means more black voters going Republican, he suggested, so be it.

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BY Ron Matus

Ron Matus is director for policy and public affairs at Step Up for Students and a former editor of redefinED. He joined Step Up in February 2012 after 20 years in journalism, including eight years as an education reporter with the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times). Ron can be reached at or (727) 451-9830. Follow him on Twitter @RonMatus1 and on facebook at