New charter ad hits de Blasio on race
A new television ad produced for the pro-charter group Families for Excellent Schools accuses Mayor Bill de Blasio of forcing minority students into failing schools, according to a copy of the yet-unreleased ad obtained by POLITICO New York.
The ad will likely be made public later on Friday, ahead of the group's pro-charter rally on Sept. 30. The rally, which will take the form of a march across the Brooklyn Bridge, is officially intended to help "restore school equality."
The ad, entitled "Tale of Two Boys," was produced by Siegel Strategies.
The firm's founder, Jimmy Siegel, is well known in New York political circles for producing narrative-driven ads accompanied by swelling piano melodies. (Siegel also produced ads for the car-hail company Uber, which recently won a fight with the de Blasio administration by effectively framing City Hall's ultimately aborted efforts to regulate the industry as anti-progressive.)
The ad buy cost FES hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to a source. FES broke state records for money spent on lobbying last year.
The ad features two young boys, one white, with blonde hair, blue eyes and a blue shirt, the other black, with a buzzcut and a red shirt.
The clip puts into stark terms the racial and class politics that FES and its allies have embraced in their fight against de Blasio over the last 18 months.
"Because he lives in a wealthy neighborhood, this 6-year-old will attend a good school," the ad's narrator says as the young white boy is walked to school by a white parent.
But when the black boy appears on the screen, the narrator says, "Because he lives in a poor neighborhood, this 6-year-old will be forced in a failing school."
The two boys briefly pass each other on the street as the narrator claims that the white child will likely go to college, while the black boy has little chance of ever attaining a college degree.
A split screen shows the two boys in school; the white boy is happily reading, while the black child is frowning, apparently bored, at his desk.
"Mayor de Blasio, stop forcing kids into failing schools," the narrator says. "Half a million children need new schools, now."
The ad's rhetoric is consistent with the group's frequent attacks on the de Blasio administration.
Since charters serve mostly minority and low-income students, FES and other groups claim that de Blasio is putting black and Latino students at a disadvantage by not supporting the growth of the city's charter sector. That line of attack is also meant to undercut what was a source of political strength for the mayor during his successful 2013 campaign for office, which was predicated on the ability of de Blasio — a social liberal with a biracial family — to understand and address the concerns of black and Latino New Yorkers.
FES and other groups have also criticized the mayor for not closing low-performing schools.
Eva Moskowitz, the CEO of Success Academy, the city's largest charter network and a close ally of FES, has also invoked race to advocate for her charter schools.
She recently compared what she and her allies call the failing schools "crisis" to the Black Lives Matter movement.
"I would argue we are losing more black lives by ignoring an epic educational crisis," she wrote in a letter to reporters earlier this year.
The majority of attendees at next week's FES rally will be Success parents, students and teachers.
Success administrators recently sent a memo to staffers asking them to instruct parents that the upcoming rally is "not political."
A spokesperson for FES declined to comment late Thursday.
See the full FES ad here: http://bit.ly/1KCUF5F