Rapper Jay-Z supports school choice in Philadelphia, draws backlash from Dems

Famed rapper Jay-Z is under fire from the left for supporting school choice for low-income families.

Jay-Z’s entertainment company, Roc Nation, recently announced its intention to distribute $300…

Famed rapper Jay-Z is under fire from the left for supporting school choice for low-income families.

Jay-Z’s entertainment company, Roc Nation, recently announced its intention to distribute $300 million in scholarships to low-income Philadelphia families through the state’s school choice program.

“We have enjoyed such a special connection with Philadelphians, so we’ve made it our mission to invest in the long-term success of the city’s changemakers,” said Dania Diaz, managing director of philanthropy for Roc Nation.

“Impact starts with the students and with awareness. We want to empower the youth and families with the knowledge to pursue their scholastic dreams, make their voices heard and become the leaders of tomorrow.”

The organization also lent its support to Pennsylvania General Assembly bill 757 currently under consideration by the state Senate. Unlike the state’s current choice programs, which rely on tax credit donations to private organizations, SB 757 would create a state-funded scholarship for low-income students.

School choice nationwide has been proven to increase academic achievement. One recent study even found Philadelphia students who received a private school scholarship were twice as likely to be proficient in both reading and math.

Other leaders in the black community support education freedom measures as well. Black Pastors United for Education recently sent a letter to Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro urging him to enact statewide school choice.

“We believe that every child in Pennsylvania deserves educational options curated to their unique needs and interests,” the group wrote. “We empower the voices of parents and guardians, as well as community and religious leaders, to tell lawmakers that every child in Pennsylvania should have access to a quality education, regardless of zip code, background, or circumstance.”

The group described education as a “nonpartisan issue” and urged state leadership to fund choice scholarships, as well as charter schools.

Such programs are especially important for helping black youth in Philadelphia, where the median household income for African Americans is $37,000 and roughly one-third are considered impoverished.  

Nevertheless, Jay-Z and Roc Nation are being publicly vilified for supporting school choice.  

“I really wish rich, out-of-touch folks who [know] nothing about education would just stop,” tweeted Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of The1619 Project. “[Roc Nation’s] involvement is to convince poor Black parents to leave the public schools.  

“This is a windfall to the city’s private schools at the expense of the public ones that most kids attend.”  

“The answer to the inequity plaguing our PA public schools is not a celebrity campaign for a GOP proposal to take public dollars to send a few ‘lucky’ kids to private schools,” added Pennsylvania state Rep. Summer Lee, D-District 12.  

Hannah-Jones and Lee failed to explain how it was more equitable to keep poor black students trapped in failing Philadelphia public schools. According to 2022-23 state testing data, only 34% of Philadelphia public school 3rd-8th graders read at grade level, and just 21% are proficient in math.  

Rates don’t improve for high schoolers, 44% of whom are proficient in literature but only 15% meet standards in Algebra.