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A coalition of organizations in New York City condemned a television ad promoting charter schools as “race-baiting.”
The ad shows a white boy and a black boy going off to different schools, one well-resourced, the other a failing school that would blight the black child’s chances of going to college.
“A coalition of elected officials, community organizations and union-allied groups criticized a new Families for Excellent Schools ad Friday, accusing the pro-charter group of “race-baiting” in order to advance its political agenda.
“The ad, first reported by POLITICO New York, is called “Tale of Two Boys” and argues that Mayor Bill de Blasio is forcing minority students into failing schools. It began running Friday, though it was not publicly promoted by FES.
“The ad buy will cost FES about half a million dollars this week and will become a multimillion-dollar ad buy over the next few weeks, according to a source.”
Who are these “Families for Excellent Schools” who can afford a multimillion dollar ad campaign?
It is not the families who send their children to charters or hope to.
Families for Excellent Schools live in excellent homes and excellent neighborhoods and send their own children to elite private schools. They are the 1%, the billionaires and multimillionaires who can pull together millions of dollars for an ad campaign in a day or an hour. They have names like Walton, Broad, and hedge fund magnate Paul Tudor Jones.
The tragedy of the charter school movement is that the original idea was admirable. They were supposed to be schools with a contract for five years or so, during which they would enroll students at risk of failure and dropouts; the teachers would seek innovative ways to spark their motivation in education. The teachers of charter schools would share their fresh ideas with their colleagues in the public schools. The students would return to their public school, re-energized and mmotivated. The public school would adopt the new methods pioneered by the charters. It was to be a collaboration.
But as charters began to open, the original idea was eclipsed by a philosophy not of collaboration, but corruption. Ambitious entrepreneurs created chains of charter schools. A new industry emerged, led not by educators, but by savvy lawyers, industrialists, and flim-flam artists. Some charters claimed they were far better than the public schools and showed contempt for public schools. They boasted that their scores were better than the public forces. They want to beat the public schools, not help them. They became a malignant force for privatization and union-busting.
Families for Excellent Schools is just one more of the deceptive names of organizations that are led by the 1% and whose goal is the impoverishment and –eventually–abandonment of public education.