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Quincy Jones Ad Jazzed About Vouchers

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By Spencer S. Hsu and Yolanda Woodlee
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, April 8, 2004

Recording industry legend Quincy Jones takes a spin at plugging school vouchers and Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) in a new television ad getting a healthy rotation on cable news and other channels.

The involvement of Jones, the all-time most-nominated Grammy artist with 76 nominations and 26 awards, adds an eyebrow-raising dose of celebrity to the D.C. education effort, which slowly is getting off the ground.

"When children are learning, it's music to parents' ears," Jones says in the TV spot, addressing viewers between images of a teacher working with a class of African American grade-schoolers in white shirts and school uniforms.

"In Washington, D.C., Mayor Anthony Williams is finding new educational opportunities for children. He took on Congress and won," Jones said. "Now D.C. children will have new charter schools and scholarships to attend private and religious schools."

The ads, paid for by Fight for Children, an advocacy group chaired by McLean real estate investor Joseph E. Robert Jr., encourage interested parents to learn more by calling 1-888-DCYOUTH or visiting the Web site

The ads also mark a distinct shift in the language used by voucher supporters to characterize the D.C. project.

When backers aired television ads invoking support for Williams during last year's congressional fight, they emphasized his work with Congress to raise more money for public schools and education scholarships, never mentioning private or religious schools.

Now the ads do not mention public education, although charter schools are public schools. And if Williams "took on" Congress, he did so knowing that the Republican leaders of both House and Senate majorities were on his side.

Jones is not a newcomer to the controversial voucher issue. The jazz musician and producer appeared with President Bush in July 2003 when Bush visited the KIPP DC:KEY Academy in Southeast Washington to promote the concept.

When School Board President Peggy Cooper Cafritz (D) announced her support for the voucher concept last spring in a newspaper commentary piece, Jones was on the telephone to congratulate her at home the morning the article appeared.

Jones is a Hollywood player who typically favors Democrats and liberal causes.

He is also an organizing board member of an effort to build a National Music Center and Museum in downtown Washington in association with the Smithsonian Institution.

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