The I Promise School is designed to provide academics as well as social and emotional support to at-risk students. Akron taxpayers fund the school and its daily operations, while James’s foundation pays for the wraparound services and other programs there. In 2019, LeBron helped build transitional housing for families whose children attend the I Promise School and are experiencing homelessness or struggle to have stable, safe housing.
One of the reasons what James did was considered notable at the time was because other celebrities who have jumped into education philanthropy have backed alternatives to public district schools, such as charter schools. Tennis great Andre Agassi, and musicians Pitbull and Sean “Diddy” Combs, for example.
Both district and charter schools are funded by the public, but charters are run independently of districts, sometimes by for-profit companies. Most do not have to be as transparent with the public about their operations as do school districts, and many have closed for financial and other problems.
Kushner made the comments on Thursday while being interviewed by Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman, co-authors of Politico’s Playbook, on “Plug In With Playbook.”
One of the topics they discussed was the decision by National Basketball Association players to opt out of a playoff game on Wednesday night in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by police in Kenosha, Wis. Blake was shot seven times in the back as he was returning to his car, where three of his sons sat.
Kushner complained that NBA players weren’t doing anything concrete to further social justice, and Sherman said James had in fact created a coalition to get out the vote in November’s election. That’s when Kushner said the players should reach out to Trump and work with the president, and he continued with this:
“What I would say is, look, LeBron James also opened a phenomenal charter school, which is making a big difference in Cleveland. But then he’s backing people who want … to close down charter schools. I think, look, if LeBron James reached out to the White House and our people reached out to him, we are happy to talk with him and say, ‘Look, let’s both agree on what we want to accomplish and let’s come up with a common pathway to get there.’ ”
Kushner said he would reach out to James on Thursday, but nobody should hold their breath about a real James-Trump alliance.
Trump has attacked James on Twitter: In 2018, the president questioned James’s intelligence. Recently, Trump labeled NBA players who kneel during the national anthem at games to protest racial injustice as “disgraceful” and says he stops watching games when he sees them do that.
James recently responded to those remarks and Trump’s comments that has done more for the Black community than any president except, perhaps, Abraham Lincoln. When told that Trump said that, James replied, “Trying to make me laugh right now? I appreciate that.”
As for losing Trump as an NBA viewer, James said, “I really don’t think the basketball community are sad about losing his viewership.”