Sunday, December 18, 2011

You Can Do Better, Mr. Pepper

“We Can Do Better New Jersey” is a shadow organization that promotes school vouchers. Its web site gives no information about who funds it, nor does it list any of its principals. It refers to its founders as “various educational and philanthropic groups and individuals.”

There’s little doubt that the dollars behind this group come from those for-profit businesses that will benefit from the passage of the Opportunity Scholarship Act and the funneling of taxpayer money to their coffers.

Like many advocacy groups, “We Can Do Better New Jersey” also has a Facebook page. It appears to be run by one Dominic Pepper. But it is clear that he is not interested in any debate on vouchers based on factual discussions.

Recently, I posted my opinion on WCDBNJ’s Facebook page (see below). Within minutes, my post was removed and I was permanently banned from the group. Several other pro-education advocates posted similar messages and were also banned within minutes.

I have to say that Mr. Pepper is very efficient. My posts on Governor Christie’s page (also fact-based and not disparaging) usually stay there for several hours before they are removed, and (so far), I’ve not been banned from the Governor’s taxpayer-funded on-line presence.

And while I’ve been banned from his Facebook page, Mr. Pepper is welcome to post on mine (and has).

WCDBNJ has every right to run its Facebook page as it pleases. But the fact that the organization is not interested in civil discourse about vouchers is troubling. Perhaps it is worried that those pesky facts will get in the way.

When asked about the impact on those school districts which must send voucher money out of their systems, Mr. Pepper cited a report from the Office of Legislative Services stating that the OSA would not impact the districts financially. My request to Mr. Pepper for a copy of the OLS report went unanswered, but other pro-education advocates posted a link on my Facebook page that showed Mr. Pepper’s assertion to be absolutely false.

It’s a shame that Mr. Pepper and his organization are afraid to debate the issue. I am sending a link to this post to Mr. Pepper, and challenge him to refute the facts about charter schools and vouchers that were meticulously researched and documented by Jersey Jazzman here. If there’s no response, I will assume that Mr. Pepper simply cannot debunk the myths that organizations like his are promulgating.

Debates are based on factual arguments. Mr. Pepper is afraid to engage in debate simply because facts are not on his side. New Jersey should follow the lead of Pennsylvania and we should maintain and improve our public education by rejecting OSA and vouchers. And Mr. Pepper should not  ban pro-education advocates from the discussion.


  1. This comment was posted on Blue Jersey:

    It might shed some light to know that the domain is registered to the following:
    Domain ID:D161009708-LROR
    Created On:21-Dec-2010 14:58:17 UTC
    Last Updated On:20-Feb-2011 03:51:11 UTC
    Expiration Date:21-Dec-2012 14:58:17 UTC
    Sponsoring Registrar:eNom, Inc. (R39-LROR)
    Registrant ID:57046a490ad
    Registrant Name:Christine Healey
    Registrant Organization:Healey Philanthropic
    Registrant Street1:573 Eayrestown Rd
    Registrant Street2:
    Registrant Street3:
    Registrant City:Lumberton
    Registrant State/Province:NJ
    Registrant Postal Code:08048
    Registrant Country:US
    Registrant Phone: +1.6092674104
    Registrant Phone Ext.:
    Registrant FAX:
    Registrant FAX Ext.:

    Who is Christine Healey? The Executive Director of the Catholic Schools Development Program. See

    Jeffrey Doshna

  2. They list six goals on their site, here is the first one...
    We are entrepreneurial philanthropists. We do our homework, take smart risks, and move with urgency. Yet, we are in it for the long haul. "Make haste slowly" Festina Lente
    Eventually with the sixth one, they say they are for the kids first and foremost.
    So which is most important? Being entrepreneurial or serving the kids?

  3. I appreciate the post. The moral compass implanted in each and every individual in this country will certainly guide the masses. Eventually the corruption will be exposed for what it is.

  4. “We Can Do Better New Jersey [is] a nonprofit coalition of Catholic school and other community leaders who have long had a voice but now are getting formally organized to promote the OSA.

    The group is led by the Catholic diocese leaders in Paterson and Camden and formed last winter as an advocacy organization, but kept a relatively low profile. With close to $500,000 in funding from the Walton Family Foundation, among other donors, it is becoming more public and will cosponsor a rally on December 1 in Trenton to promote the OSA.”


    Who is manufacturing the fake school voucher support that the Walmart Money is buying?

    “Jaffe Communications has coordinated a Thursday morning public affairs rally to urge the New Jersey State Legislature to pass the Opportunity Scholarship Act…The rally is one part of a multifaceted public affairs campaign launched last month by the firm after it was hired by nonprofit We Can Do Better New Jersey.

    The goal is to get the legislation, which would provide tax-credit scholarships for up to 40,000 children, passed before the end of the lame-duck session in January.

    The firm's public affairs campaign also incorporates advertising buys in targeted legislative districts, including billboards, bus advertising, and posters at New Jersey Transit rail stations, said Jonathan Jaffe, managing principal of Jaffe Communications. The firm is also pitching Op-Eds from prominent supporters to major daily newspapers and online news sources around the state, as well as coordinating a letter-to-the-editor campaign and editorial board meetings.

    John Eriksen, who sits on the board of We Can Do Better New Jersey and is the superintendent of schools for the [Catholic] Diocese of Paterson, said he hired Jaffe Communications because of work it has done for his school district. He said the firm has done a good job of “translating the will of the majority into an effective communications plan.”

    Eriksen declined to comment on the budget for the campaign.”


    What Is The Will Of NJ Residents When It Comes To Taxpayer Funded School Vouchers?

    Do you favor or oppose providing parents with tax money in the form of school vouchers to help pay for their children to attend private or religious schools?

    Oppose 56%
    Favor 39%
    Don’t know/no answer 6%

    Source: Quinnipiac April 2011