Jay-Z Slammed For Backing Pennsylvania GOP Voucher Program

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Jay-Z and Roc Nation have come under fire for backing a program in Pennsylvania, which critics say aims to gut public education.

A new campaign underway in Pennsylvania is aiming to get students from low-income households in Philadelphia into the city’s private schools. The Pennsylvania Award for Student Success (PASS) program is spearheaded by Jay-Z and his Roc Nation entertainment company, which also refers to the PASS grants as “Lifetime Scholarships.” Roc Nation had publicly pledged an investment of $300 million towards the cause. “PASS – which is also known as Senate Bill 757 – is legislation aimed at increasing education opportunities for underprivileged youth attending the state’s lowest performing public schools,” a press release by the group stated.

But critics, including teachers’ groups, have called out the campaign for being heavily influenced by Republicans to gut public education and pointed to Jay-Z’s friendship with a key figure of the campaign. “This ain’t it,” wrote the American Federation of Teachers Pennsylvania in a post on X, formerly Twitter. “And for good measure, 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.” The push comes as House Democrats are advancing a bill for $5.1 billion in school funding, capping charter schools’ annual tuition fees.

Criticism also came from individuals such as parent Dena Driscoll, who said that “Jay-Z is like ‘defund Abbott Elementary‘ and for real though my actual Philadelphian children’s public school. Lifeline Scholarships mean most of our children are left to drown.” Journalist and scholar Nikole Hannah-Jones blasted initial coverage of the PASS program as well in a thread of posts on X, calling Roc Nation out for lending its name to efforts in trying to get the bill passed, stating its “involvement is to convince poor Black parents to leave the public schools. “This is no different than the right-wing efforts in Arizona, Florida, and elsewhere just because they put a Black face on it,” she wrote.

Jeff Yass is a billionaire who is the largest megadonor to Republican federal campaigns this election cycle, according to CNBC, totaling over $46 million to date. School choice has been a major focus of PASS and the groups he funds through various entities, with sources remarking that he is a top choice for a cabinet position under Donald Trump if he were to win the presidential election in November.