Gov. Chris Christie’s strong support of school vouchers today earned him the endorsement of Bishop Reginald Jackson, one of New Jersey’s most influential black ministers. …

But Jackson today said state Democratic lawmakers have disappointed him by refusing to pass the Opportunity Scholarship Act, a bill that would give children in low-performing urban schools a publicly funded scholarship to attend a private school or another public school instead.

State Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex), the Democratic candidate for governor this year, opposes the bill. Jackson called Buono a “wonderful, warm and genuine person,” then launched a scathing critique on her party.

“A quality education is a civil right, and it is sad for me to see my party, which embraced the Civil Rights movement, now in New Jersey blocking low-income and minority children from escaping the slavery of failing schools,” Jackson said at a Statehouse news conference, standing next to Christie and a group of black ministers from across the state.

Democrats who have thwarted the bill so far, including Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex), have said the state’s top priority should be improving public education, not using public funds to fund private schools. The state’s largest teachers union, the New Jersey Education Association, says there’s no evidence supporting the use of vouchers.