Community Voice or Captive of the Right? A Closer Look at the Black Alliance for Educational Options
Other BAEO Board Members
Right-wing media figure Armstrong Williams is perhaps the best-known BAEO board member. A former aide to Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC) and protégé of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Williams is a vocal spokesperson for other right-wing positions, including opposing affirmative action and gay rights.66
Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell is a prominent Republican who previously served as Undersecretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the first Bush Administration. Blackwell, a contributor to Alan Keyes' Black America's PAC, currently serves on the board of the Ohio School Choice Committee and the advisory board for Children First CEO America, a pro-voucher group founded by BAEO funder John Walton.
Former Rep. Floyd Flake (D-NY), president of Edison Charter Schools, is one of several BAEO board members who run companies that either service charter schools or would otherwise stand to gain financially from further privatization of the public education system. Edison operates for-profit charter schools in 21 states plus the District of Columbia.67 According to the National Journal, Flake was the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to support vouchers and he has continued to push for African American support of voucher programs since retiring.
Deborah McGriff also works for Edison as president of Edison Teacher's College. McGriff is married to Howard Fuller and is a former superintendent herself. As of November 1999, McGriff reportedly had $3 million in Edison stock options.68
William Breazell serves on the boards of two other pro-voucher organizations, Colorado Springs for School Choice (CSSC) and Children Having Opportunities in Colorado Education (CHOICE). Breazell claimed the national NAACP pressured him to resign as head of the Colorado Springs NAACP over his support for vouchers.
Dale Sadler, another Colorado-based BAEO board member, sits on the CHOICE board with Breazell.
Jacqueline Cissell is Community Relations Director for the Greater Educational Opportunities Foundation (GEOF), which is affiliated with both CHOICE and CSSC. The Friedman and Bradley foundations fund both BAEO and GEOF.
Pennsylvania State Representative Dwight Evans, a Democrat, introduced voucher and tuition tax credit legislation repeatedly since joining the legislature in 1980. Evans' 1997 voucher proposal would have provided $5,500 to students to "escape" failing schools and enroll in private schools at taxpayer expense instead.
Amber Blackwell headed the New Village charter school in Oakland, California. The elementary school's ambitious goal was to teach about tolerance by exploring issues of race, class and sexual orientation in the curriculum. However, with 100 percent teacher turnover and financial troubles, New Village's charter was revoked as of the end of the 1999-2000 school year, making it one of only six schools in California to be "de-chartered" since the state began its charter school program in 1993.69 "Charter schools can't be a mom-and-pop thing, and that's what we were - a group of people with great intentions and little understanding of how to run a big system," Blackwell explained.70
Taunya Young was an administrator at a controversial school that was actually expelled from the Cleveland voucher program in January 2001. The Golden Christian Academy conducted all classroom instruction through videos targeted towards Christian home-schoolers.
Delores Fridge is currently Vice Chairman of BAEO. She was chairperson of the Minnesota State Board of Education and traveled with Governor Arne Carlson on his trip to Singapore as the Governor's "Special Advisor in Education."71
Virginia Walden-Ford currently serves as Executive Director of D.C. Parents for School Choice, Inc. Walden-Ford has also worked for other local and national advocacy groups, including Friends of Choice in Urban Schools, National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise and the Center for Education Reform.72
Zakiya Courtney leads Parents for School Choice, a pro-voucher group. She served as the chairperson (1990-1994) for the Pupil Assignment Council of the Milwaukee voucher program and currently works at Howard Fuller's Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University.73
Kenneth Campbell is Vice President for Business Development for Mosaica Education, Inc. Campbell held a similar position for three years with Advantage Schools, Inc., joining Mosaica when the two companies merged in August 2001.74
Judy Burnette is a founder and member of the board of directors of the Coalition for Parent Choice in Education (CPCE) in Massachusetts, and served as executive director for the Children's Scholarship Fund (CSF) of Boston. She worked as an Education Policy Specialist for the Mayor of Boston, served as an appointee to the Massachusetts governor's Education Reform Review Commission.75