Beth Fertig is WNYC’s Contributing Editor for Education. She previously covered politics, which included City Hall during the Giuliani administration, and the U.S. Senate campaigns of Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton. She also covered transportation and infrastructure.
About Those Subway Ads for the Schools
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
'Keep it Going, NYC'
That's the tag line for a series of subway ads about the New York City public schools. The ads tout higher graduation rates, and say 'Because every child deserves a great education, New York City Public Schools are making big improvements.'
Some New Yorkers have wondered whether these ads are at all connected to Mayor Bloomberg's re-election campaign. Some have asked if they're related to an even fiercer campaign right now over whether Albany should renew the law that gave Bloomberg control of the public schools when it expires in June.
For the record, the ads are by the Fund for Public Schools - a non-profit based at the Department of Education, which raises private money for the city schools. That's the same Fund that was headed by Caroline Kennedy.
'It raises flags of 'what is the message?'' says Chris Keeley, Associate Director of Common Cause, New York. 'The success of the schools or success of Mayor Bloomberg? Maybe they’re intertwined.'
Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, who chairs the Fund for Public Schools, says the ad campaign started a couple of years ago - well before Bloomberg decided to seek a third term.
"That’s been going on a long time," Klein told WNYC. "The Fund was sponsoring some ads in subways and talking about keep the progress going, a way to engage New Yorkers."
A spokeswoman for the Fund for Public Schools says its advertising budget was $2.7 million in fiscal year 2008 and has dropped to $1.9 million for the current fiscal year. She says that's because they decided to run subway ads rather than the more expensive television ads. Those TV ads can still be seen on the fund's website, including two that feature Mayor Bloomberg.