And guess what? Rich Republicans were nowhere to be seen. Instead, they rounded up a couple of black civil rights leaders and a troop of inner-city schoolchildren from Memphis to speak to reporters, hoping to tug at our heartstrings. It was so ham-handed that reporters were guffawing to each other about it afterward.
“I try to serve as an ear and a voice for the needs of the people, and they are very disappointed and saddened that politics could not be set aside to provide much-needed help to our state’s children,” said the Rev. Dwight Montgomery, president of the Memphis Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
The American Federation for Children is the same outfit that funded an $800,000 TV and radio ad campaign in Tennessee to promote vouchers.
That same PAC gave nearly $250,000 to pro-voucher candidates in Tennessee political races last year. It’s run by a billionaire right-winger from Michigan and a few of her wealthy friends.
Do you think they went hat-in-hand into Tennessee’s inner-city neighborhoods to collect any of that cash? Of course not. But isn’t it nice that they’re willing to spend so much of their own money to give school choice, or "opportunity scholarships," to some of our poorest children? Not!
As you recall, Gov. Bill Haslam withdrew his voucher bill last week after Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, insisted on trying to amend it to expand the program. He said he wanted vouchers to cover the children of families earning up to $75,000.
We predict that would have been just the beginning. Next year, Kelsey would have been back to try to add more children from even wealthier families to give them more opportunity too.