School Choice Movement Loses Another Champion

Published May 31, 2016

Dan Gaby, who in 1999 founded the New Jersey group Excellent Education for Everyone, passed away December 10 at the age of 75.

Gaby, a lifelong Democrat, sought a U.S. Senate seat in 1972 and was the New Jersey state chairman for Jimmy Carter’s election campaigns in both 1976 and 1980. But of all the jobs he held over the course of his life, he considered leading the charge for school choice to be the most important, said E3 Interim Director Derrell Bradford.

“One thing Dan used to always say is true: The school choice fight is really a proxy in the battle for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party,” said Bradford, who worked closely with Gaby from 2002 until his death. “His strategy was all about inflaming that conflict, making it visible, and helping the parents and children who are forced to attend these understand their interests weren’t being served. The fact that Dan lived to see Chris Christie elected [as New Jersey governor]—a Republican who campaigned on school choice in cities, who was unafraid of it—speaks volumes about Dan’s strategy, the courage of the governor, and the importance of this moment.”

Heartland Institute President Joe Bast said Gaby’s loss is palpable. More than 600 people attended his December 17 memorial service.

“Dan Gaby was an overachiever, a brilliant man who had successful careers in public relations and politics and who could have done anything, or nothing, in his retirement. We are blessed that he chose school choice,” Bast said. “We’ll all miss him, and redouble our efforts to make his dream of universal school choice come true.”

Bradford said E3 will announce the hiring of a new executive director by the end of February.

Karla Dial ([email protected]) is managing editor of School Reform News.