A-Rod May Be A Jerk But…

It’s a rare day when I have anything printable to say about the New York Yankees.  Seriously.

But Jorge Posada, who plays catcher, and his wife stepping out for education reform is noteworthy and praiseworthy.   Too few professional athletes (and entertainers for that matter) are willing to take on issues like ed reform in meaningful way because it cuts against the grain and also carries the potential for blowback.   Posada and his wife have agreed to be spokespeople for HCREO, a group advocating education reform on behalf of Latino students.  This is in addition to work he already does to raise awareness about, and support families dealing with, Craniosynostosis, which is a birth defect affecting the skull.

7 Replies to “A-Rod May Be A Jerk But…”

  1. If by “stepping out for education reform” you mean publically supporting an organizations who’s sole purpose in life to to promote choice and vouchers for Latinos, then I guess you’re right. I do think you’re stretching the phrase “education reform” a bit far – unless your entire definition of reform rest on choice. The only thing HCREO is advocating for is vouchers. And in this context (non-white populations) vouchers is a wedge issue, it’s not an ed reform strategy.

    So I took a gander at the press release. One of the contacts is at Step Up for Children, a Florida org that started with a weathy venture capitalist giving out scholarships to poor black children to attend private schools. Then he went to the state legislature and got them to approve a tax break for corporations giving to these scholarships. Nice little loophole. Birds of a feather perhaps?

    Where can you got wrong with money from the Walton and Milton Friedman foundations?

    So the only “meaningful” stance on ed reform is vouchers?

  2. oh boy, more professional athletes “taking on issues”. yes, we could certainly use more curt schillings, jeff suppans, and jim bunnings. or, for that matter, brave actors and actresses like cynthia nixon and sean penn. and for an organization as consequential and meaningful as hispanic creo. who are they again?

    i’m all for civic involvement and advocating what one believes in, but sometimes I think it’s wiser of celebrities to decline the soapbox and choose other ways to give back… like Craniosynostosis philanthropy. leave annoying political commentary to annoying anonymous blog commentators.

  3. Marktropolis,
    I appreciate your concerns. I work for Step Up For Students, and I would never argue that the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship is the sole solution to the dire educational circumstances that children of poverty face. It is but one learning option for students who tend to have the fewest. A state-commissioned report released this summer found that the children on these scholarships are in fact the poorest and lowest-performing students from the schools they leave behind. They are desperate, and the scholarship is one tool at their disposal. It is certainly not “the entire definition of reform.” We’re just trying, like our partners in traditional public schools, to give poor children the best chance to succeed.

  4. Jon – don’t wish to besmirch your good intentions. That said, the Florida program was created as a mechanism to skirt issues of church/state separation. Other voucher programs that used public money for private school vouchers have been challenged in the courts for that reason. The Florida way allows the voucher programs to be funded by corporations – who in turn get a tax credit (thereby reducing public funds available for public education).

    Yes, the children are desperate: they are desperate for the grownups to hurry up and fix public education. Vouchers are NEVER going to fix the public system and that’s really what needs to attention. I think it’s fine for some kids to get scholarships. But to make the argument that that is somehow a “reform” strategy is a tad short-sighted.

  5. Mark, I think you’re probably right that “reform” is not the best word here. I would say the scholarships are one option in a system of public education that is increasingly customizing learning for all its students. It is no more the solution for all low-income struggling students than the International Baccalaureate program is the right fit for all advanced learners. But they both serve a particular slice of students, and thus add value to the whole. As for the money, yes this program uses dollar-for-dollar tax-credited contributions that otherwise would be going to the state treasury, and should be held to account as a result. If it helps any, the state’s version of the GAO issued a report a year ago that determined the scholarship program saves taxpayers $1.49 for every $1 lost in tax credits (mainly because the maximum scholarship is so much lower than the standard public school per-pupil funding). Thanks for the constructive discussion, and feel free to contact me anytime at jeast@stepupforstudents.org.

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