More than 50 local community leaders, pastors, and citizens came out Monday to oppose a new effort for tax credits to go toward private school education and to call out their friend Sen. Robert Ford for introducing the measure.
Ford (D-Charleston) is one of the only members of the Legislative Black Caucus to come out in support of the tax credits. The bill would also provide tax credits for donations to private school scholarship programs for children from low-income families.
Led by the NAACP, the event today was in response to Ford’s suggestion that he had strong support in his community for the bill.
“Let us make one thing clear,” said Rep. David Mack (D-Charleston). “One cannot support vouchers and tax credits and be a supporter for public schools. Funds are more limited now than they’ve ever been.”
Several of the speakers talked of protecting public schools from losing students or resources, but others spent their time at the mic venting their angry befuddlement at Ford’s new support for private school tax credits.
“He’s forgotten how he got where he is,” said Rev. John Paul Brown. “We trusted him. We did not look for him to turn on us.”
Former School Board Chairman Hillery Douglas suggested the community “buy back Sen. Ford” from the tax credit lobbiests who have supported him with campaign contributions.
The Rev. Joe Darby, vice president of the local NAACP chapter, said that, in a backwards way, he was grateful to Ford for galvanizing a community that had grown complacent as the movement toward tax credits slowed in Statehouse circles over the years.
“He’s brought us together,” Darby said. “Across lines of community, race, class, and agenda, so we can stand with one voice and say that we do not support Sen. Ford and his quest to strengthen private schools.”
The NAACP is encouraging Ford to call a public meeting and ask community members what they think of the tax credit propasal.
“Talk to the people, so that those citizens united here for public education can also educate you,” Darby said.