So we left off asking the question: is Clergy for Educational Options a genuine, independent
Turns out, Gervais wasn’t the first person to ever make such a query. A couple months ago, Warren Bolton of The State posed the same question to the two front-men of CEO, Reverend Richard L. Davis and Thomas Simuel:
The Rev. Davis and Mr. Simuel said they share SCRG’s and others’ desire for private school choice and work with them to help bring that about, but they have no other connection. Their sphere of agreement with SCRG pretty much begins and ends with school choice, they said.
So there you have it. According to CEO, the group has “no other connection” with SCRG besides their shared notion about school choice. Still, I thought I’d investigate a little more, so I went to the Secretary of State’s website.
Suffice it to say Rev. Davis and Mr. Simuel have a very narrow definition of “connection.” When Clergy for Educational Options filed with the Secretary of State in 2005, its address was
I called Reverend Davis to see if I could get an explanation.
On the phone, Rev. Davis said Clergy for Educational Options is not a spin-off of
In other words,
I asked him if his own church was a member, and he said yes. But when I asked him where his church was located, he explained that really CEO has become the focal point of his pastoring at the moment.
Rev. Davis was a nice guy, and I appreciate the fact that he took the time to talk. He seems sincere about his mission, and he says vouchers of some form, from food stamps to Pell Grants, have sustained the poor community for years.
Davis insisted his group didn’t have the same focus as SCRG, because he advocated vouchers while SCRG advocated tax credits. When I pressed him to distinguish between the two, he said, “I don’t believe tax credits help my constituency.”
I really don’t know what to make of all this hydra-headedness from SCRG's former offices at Suite B. Obviously, it adds a few lines of multiculturalism to paragraphs like this:
The [Put Parents in Charge] "Exploratory Team" is comprised of Charleston Developer Thomas Ravenel, Former State Superintendent Dr. Barbara Nielsen, Morgan Stanley Vice President Ben Rast, Dispoz-O Products Director Karen Iacovelli, Columbia Metropolitan Magazine Publisher Henry Clay, Southern Assoc. of Black Independent Schools Exec. Director Rich Thompson, Center for Grassroots and Community Alternatives President Stephen Gilchrist and Executive Minister of Clergy for Educational Options Rev. Richard Davis. (source)
Not to mention paragraphs like this:
Fortunately, strong advocates have lined up to support the Act, including Black Mothers Perspective[?], The Clergy for Educational Options and the Southern Association of Black Independent Schools. (source)
And it even lends an air of gravitas to guest columns:
As the executive director of the newly formed Southern Association of Black Independent Schools, I urge Mr. Stephens and other critics to look at the facts and support this proposed reform. (source)
But it seems to me, with all due respect to Rev. Davis, that the only voices advocating the Put Parents in Charge agenda from the black community are those created to advocate Put Parents in Charge from the black community.
But that's me. I encourage you to visit the websites of these outfits yourself, and come up with your own conclusion.CEO