Monday, August 15, 2011

Free School Supplies

Backpacks, supplies will be distributed to 6,000 Elizabeth students

ELIZABETH — Thousands of children who might otherwise return to school next month without proper supplies will not enter the classroom empty-handed.

On Tuesday,for the third year, B4K, an organization that advocates for education reform in New Jersey, the United Way and the Elizabeth Development Co., a nonprofit economic development corporation, will distribute backpacks filled with school supplies to 6,000 Elizabeth students in need.
Something about this seemingly positive, innocuous article that reads like a cut & paste press release set my political jive antennae vibrating. A mere five minutes of Google search revealed that B4K (B4NJKids) is a rather mysterious education "reform" group, anti-union, pro-Chris Christie, with a Director who sits on the boards of two Catholic schools. The group has produced a pro-Christie video & buys internet ads that show up on other pages after the web page tracking cookie buried in one's browser remembers one has visited the B4NJKids site. The organization is is not listed as a partner on the County United Way website.

Elizabeth has many poor & under-privileged kids; I'm hardly suggesting they not receive free school supplies. But we should always be aware of who seeks  influence in public schools & education policy  (I'm aware the NEA is already there, but so is  an elected Board of Ed), & avoid as much as we can  in these lean times the corporatizing (or branding) of public schools.  Those gifts may be Trojan horses. Once they're in it'll be the dickens to get them out. & keep an eye for B4NKids, that organization's real  goal may be to  bust up public school systems & create special interest charter schools that have taxpayers paying for what were  private schools with  limited  scope, that is, parochial, using union-busting as a wedge issue. More on that later. 

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