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Jay-Z School Voucher Campaign Criticized For Allegedly Taking Money Away From Public Schools

Jay-Z is under fire for his newly proposed program aimed at getting underprivileged youth in Philadelphia into private schools.

Jay-Z is under fire for his newly proposed program to help underprivileged youth in Philadelphia secure scholarships to private schools.

Last week, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation unveiled the Pennsylvania Award for Student Success (PASS), a new educational campaign that would allocate $300 million in private school scholarships to K-12 students from low-income households. However, no sooner than the campaign was announced did Jay-Z face backlash from critics who accused the hip-hop mogul of pushing a Republican-backed Senate bill that would take tax dollars away from underperforming public schools and give them to private schools, HuffPost reports.

While initial reports claimed the $300 million in scholarships would be funded by Roc Nation, it would be backed by taxpayer dollars as part of Senate Bill 757 or PASS. As part of the campaign, Roc Nation is hosting a series of events across the greater Philadelphia region from June 10-21 to educate the public about PASS, which Republican-led legislation claims is “aimed at increasing education opportunities for underprivileged youth attending the state’s lowest-performing public schools.”

As a result, critics are speaking out against the campaign, complaining about where the funding would come from and how it will hurt thousands of students in public schools.

“This ain’t it. The answer to the inequity plaguing our PA public schools is not a celebrity campaign for a GOP proposal to take public dollars to send a few “lucky” kids to private schools,” Pennsylvania Rep. Summer Lee tweeted in response. “The answer is to make sure our public schools are actually properly funded.”

“I don’t think people realize that private schools aren’t inherently better,” another critic added. “Also how this further hurts those underprivileged schools because they’re getting funding relative to attendance smh. Not all help is good help.”

The American Federation of Teachers Pennsylvania also shared their take by posting a photo of Jay-Z and billionaire Jeffrey Yass, the richest man in Pennsylvania, who’s known for donating millions to Republicans and conservative-led causes.

“Here’s a still of @sc and Jeffrey Yass, PA’s richest man, potential Trump Treasury Secretary, and the force behind the voucher push in PA,” they wrote.

The PASS program claims it won’t take money from public schools but would allocate “government funds from a separate line item,” the website states. However, critics say otherwise, as public school funding is based on the number of students in attendance.

Meanwhile, Roc Nation CEO Desiree Perez says the company “is not backing any particular bill or any political party. What we are backing is education.”

“We’re not forcing people to sign anything. We’re just educating them, which I would think everyone wants people to make informed decisions,” Perez said.

“We care about our people,” she explained. “We care about the children. And the only thing that I don’t see anywhere is anyone talking about the kids. People are talking about the public school system and how important it is, which I agree. I hear all about the budget, government, parties, and bills, but no one’s talking about the children.”

A 2023 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment found that almost 75% of eighth-grade students are at grade level in mathematics, and 34% of third through eighth graders were proficient or higher in English scores. As a result, Perez says Roc Nation’s goal is to focus on the students’ needs.

“The kids in these zip codes are suffering right now,” she said. “If you have a better solution, aside from making [students] wait until the public school system can get it together with the funding they are receiving, I am all ears.”

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