Citing school vouchers, influential black minister endorses Christie for reelection

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has parlayed his persistent support for school vouchers into a robust reelection endorsement from Bishop Reginald Jackson, one of the most powerful black ministers — and one of the most powerful ministers, period — in the state.

A total of 10 other black ministers also publicly endorsed the Republican, reports The Record, a Bergen County newspaper.

At a Tuesday news conference in Trenton with Christie and black ministers from around the state, Jackson noted that he remains committed to the Democratic Party and that he had given his political blessing to Christie’s opponent, then-Gov. Jon Corzine, in 2009.

The bishop described his frustration that Christie’s opponent, Barbara Buono, and other Democrats refuse to support the Opportunity Scholarship Act. The bill would provide publicly-funded scholarships for children in failing urban schools so they could attend a public school or a private school somewhere else, according to the Hunterdon County Democrat.

Opponents of the bill, including the New Jersey Education Association, the largest teachers union in the state, cite a lack of evidence that vouchers will help students in failing schools. Instead, they want to upgrade public education.

After describing Buono as a “wonderful, warm and genuine person,” Jackson explained his view that education is the most important political issue for The Garden State and unleashed a devastating attack on the state senator.

“A quality education is a civil right, and it is sad for me to see my party, which embraced the civil rights movement, now in New Jersey blocking low-income and minority children from escaping the slavery of failing schools,” Jackson said.

“Senator Buono genuinely feels that low-income parents and their children in failing schools should not receive scholarships, but that they should wait while we fix the public schools.”

He also excoriated black politicians in the state.

“My disappointment is that every day, they see children who are not getting a quality education, and that doesn’t seem to move them,” he charged, according to the Hunterdon broadsheet. “There’s not a single African-American legislator who has had or who has a child of school age whose child goes to public school.”