Over the weekend, news dropped that Jay-Z and his label Roc Nation would be spearheading an educational campaign in Philadelphia to help K-12 students from low-income households secure $300 million in scholarships to attend the city’s private schools.

On Monday, Roc Nation reportedly hosted the first in the “Dine & Learn” series will which take place over the next two weeks, according to Pennsylvania Capital-Star.

However, that big scholarship number is not all it appears to be on the surface.

What Jay-Z/Roc Nation will be doing is providing their influence and power to host a handful of events in the city to inform residents about the Pennsylvania Award for Student Success (PASS)—a Republican-backed bill and school voucher program that seeks to obtain $300 million in taxpayer dollars in order to fund private and charter schools.

And where the water gets murkier is that the proposal is also backed by billionaire conservative, Trump-backer and Philly native Jeff Yass, who has notoriously pushed his “school choice” and his anti-public school agenda for a while.

With Yass’ involvement and other Republican’s backing this voucher program under Senate Bill 757 — which many critics have been calling out for its implicit goal to take resources away from public schools and instead divert them and deplete an already underdeveloped statewide school system — it lead many online to wonder why someone like Jay-Z would want to get involved.

“Roc Nation is not backing any particular bill or any political party. What we are backing is education.” said Roc Nation CEO Desiree Perez in an interview with Huffpost. “We’re not forcing people to sign anything. We’re just educating them, which I would think everyone wants people to make informed decisions. We care about our people. We care about the children. And the only thing that I don’t see anywhere is anyone talking about the kids. People are talking about the public school system and how important it is, which I agree. I hear all about the budget, government, parties and bills, but no one’s talking about the children.”

“The kids in these zip codes are suffering right now,” she later added. “If you have a better solution, aside from making [students] wait until the public school system can get it together with the funding they are receiving, I am all ears.”

Perez has a point: As of February 2023, the Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court ruled that the state’s school funding system was unconstitutional and that it must be reformed. However, residents and other critics of Senate Bill 757 don’t think a this school voucher program is the way to go about it.

“1) Read the fine print. THIS IS A GOVT VOUCHER PROGRAM. Voucher programs have not been shown to improve results for poor Black children because most cannot get into high-quality private schools,” wrote acclaimed writer Nikole Hannah Jones on X/Twitter once the news broke. She continued:

“2) Read the fine print. All of the money is coming from taxpayers, ie. the government. Roc Nation is not funding this, it is just launching an educational campaign that maybe it is being paid to do. I’m researching. But certainly, it’s involvement is to convince poor Black parents to leave the public schools. 3) What do you think that $300 million could do for improving those low-performing public schools? 4) It is a lie that these programs do not take from public-school funding. Fewer kids in the classroom means fewer dollars to the school. 5) This is a windfall to the city’s private schools at the expense of the public ones that most kids attend.”

Music veteran and award-winning film director Karlie Hustle echoed similar sentiments: “The ‘low-performing public schools’ that they are pulling kids from to send to ‘private schools’ could use these resources. But let me not scream into the void. The rich have divested from the concept of a fair and equitable education for all.”

Hustle added in a follow-up tweet, “Whether Jay-Z or the upper middle-class family on the block: if you have resources and don’t allocate them to local public schools, you are making a moral and political choice. Taking children out of public schools in favor of private IS PRECISELY what hurts the most vulnerable.”

“1. This is not good, it’s public school money to charter schools 2. Jay-Z isn’t donating $300 million; he’s the face of an event to lobby the state to spend it 3. Jeff Yass is coordinating this 4. THE SCHOLARSHIPS DON’T EXIST,” wrote another user.

“Not Jay-Z funding the Abbott children to move to Legendary Charter Schools instead of funding Abbott,” said another user, in reference to the fictional, beloved popular public school series Abbott Elementary and its “rival” school Legendary Schools.

However, there were some that still thought Jay and Roc Nation’s involvement was a step in the right direction.

“This is weird to me, 300 million wouldn’t fix Philly wouldn’t public school system. And that should be on the elected officials job to fix public schools not Jay-Z. Jay-Z is trying to even the playing field for low income homes and yall still complain,” wrote one user.

“Outrage w/o context. Philly pub school funding increased by $86M. Jay-Z didn’t create private school scholarship legislation. Historically these scholarships have subsidized students who dont actually need the funds, so the campaign should help ensure funds land where they should,” wrote another.