When I take the subway to school in the mornings, I sometimes puzzle over the ads posted in the cars–ads promoting nothing other than our very own public schools, or rather, someone’s story about how much progress we’re making under the current leadership.
These ads cost $270,000 and are part of a public relations campaign by the Fund for Public Schools. It seems strange that we would need to advertise our own public schools–but the schools are not really the subject of the ads. One of the ads states proudly that 800,000 teachers, parents, and students responded to a survey. Now who would spend thousands of dollars on an ad like that? Not teachers. Not parents. Not students.
Who funds the Fund for Public Schools? We do not know, for the organization has made the most of a loophole that exempts it from disclosing such information.
What are the ads for? Supposedly the Fund for Public Schools exists in order to attract private donors to the school system. But why would those private donors be riding the J train out to East New York early in the morning? East New York is a poor section of Brooklyn. The airport is out a little further, but I imagine that if the potential millionaire donors were going to JFK, they’d take a cab or car.
No, this can’t be for money. I suspect the Fund for Public Schools is doing this for another reason: to get flimsy logic wafting in our minds. If we come to believe that a survey is a sign of progress, then we won’t blink twice over the other ads, like the one that reads, “Because finishing is the start of a better future, New York City public high schools have increased graduation rates by more than 20% since 2002.”
The 20% figure has been roundly disputed–but I would also dispute the reasoning, “Because finishing is the start of a better future.” Is that why graduation rates have supposedly increased? Can platitudes improve our graduation rates?
Don’t think about it. Just “Keep It Going NYC.”