Thursday, July 26, 2007

More on Clergy for Educational Options

So we left off asking the question: is Clergy for Educational Options a genuine, independent South Carolina voice for the voucher plan, or is it just an SCRG affiliate with an African-American face?

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 1620 Gervais Street (Suite B) in Columbia.

Don’t remember seeing the sign there? Maybe it was hidden behind the South Carolinians for Responsible Government sign. At 1620 Gervais Street. Suite B.

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 South Carolinians for Responsible Government. When I asked him about the address, he explained that CEO was spawned from the other suite-mate at the time, the “Center for Grassroots and Community Alternatives.” The same year, the Center for Grassroots also created the “Southern Association of Black Independent Schools.”

In other words, 1620 Gervais Street (Suite B) was home to four pro-voucher groups in 2005: South Carolinians for Responsible Government, Clergy for Educational Options, the Center for Grassroots and Community Alternatives, and the Southern Association of Black Independent Schools. There was also a family of houseflies, but they left when they realized the voucher groups were multiplying faster than they were.

But Davis says not to read too much into the suite-sharing. The Center for Grassroots, according to Davis, is merely a “collaborative partner” of SCRG.

Davis contended that CEO has a membership of 300 churches. He said that while “a little bit of money” comes from sources such as the Walton Family Foundation, most of his funding comes from the churches. He said, and I quote, “Howie hasn’t done much for us at all.”

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.



300 Strong ? said...


Please post the names of the 300 churches CEO claims as members. We're sure you asked for the list.

Or, is the CEO list of 300 like the list of 200 kaazillion members that SCRG claims - but won't release?

And finally, we're sure you never noticed this so we want to point out that 1620 Gervais St. is also the address of: Richard Quinn and Associates. What a coincidence!

1620 Gervais St. sounds like one really crowded office building.

Anonymous said...

The quinn's are sucking off of the sugar teet of Howard Rich. He is their financial lifeline since the Hunley money is beginning to finally dry up and all of their political clients will all be firmly retained by other consultants after McCain drops. Take for example that Rick is on the payroll now as the national Rich funded organization called NAWER--it is a union busting organization.

1620 Gervais street was slimy before now it is just a total rats nest.

There are probably a number of reasons that the Feds have been spending time watching that place.

Anonymous said...

Now 1620 Gervais Street is not a rats nest, its home to lots and lots of Palmetto Bugs--the crawling and flying kind!

Lookie Lookie said...

Now, Gervais. We know what you're thinking, but the last post is not, by any means, overboard.

Anonymous. Thanks. Like most we've paid no attention to Rick since his last two defeats. But, some have been wondering what mischief he was up to besides sham SCRG groups.

Now we know. Check the NAWER site:

And lookie-lookie who's one of only 5 elected officials in the U.S. who have signed the NAWER Pledge:

Silence Dogood said...

Hey Lookie, Lookie, if Jow Wilson's thing is to bust Unions up, I think he really going overboard by just getting rid of the jobs in the first place. His deciding vote for CAFTA, which provided absolutely no trade protections for American workers help insure that the last of S.C. textile mills would become a museum ASAP. Thanks Joe!

Lookie Lookie said...

Hwy Joe. Good point. Interesting isn't it. Let's all call Joe and Rick and ask them to explain all this. :)