A number of critics are calling a new Families for Excellent Schools ad racist and accusing the group of “race-baiting” in an effort to push its political agenda.
The ad, called “A Tale of Two Boys” suggests that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is purposely placing minority students into failing schools through a depiction of the education of a white child and a Black child in New York City. As the white child walks to school, the ad says “Because he lives in a wealthy neighborhood, this 6-year-old will attend a good school.” However, as the Black child walks to school, the narrator states, “Because he lives in a poor neighborhood, this 6-year-old will be forced in a failing school.”
Side-by-side shots of the two boys in their schools are then shown, with one reading a book while the other rests his head on his desk. The ad ends with the narrator saying “Mayor de Blasio, stop forcing kids into failing schools. Half a million children need new schools, now.”
According to the FES, which includes the operators of the largest charter schools in New York City, Mayor de Blasio is not doing enough ensure children in low-income areas receive a high-quality education, arguing that “de Blasio is putting black and Latino students at a disadvantage by not supporting the growth of the city’s charter sector,” writes Rebecca Gruber for PopSugar.
Bertha Lewis, the president of the Black Institute, said the ad was “the most racist ad I’ve seen in my life.”
“None of them wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t making enormous profit. To then turn around and say, ‘Oh black people, I’m trying to save you from the big bad white man, the mayor, who wants to put you in a failing school’ — that’s racist.”
Luis Garden Acosta, the founder of El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice and the father of a child who attended a charter school, argued that the ad was “race-baiting.”
“‘Race baiting’ like ‘red baiting,’ exploiting the values and legitimate concerns of our city’s communities of color, for whatever political purpose, is abhorrent and posits a dangerous and expanding wedge in a city all to segregated by class, color and community,” Mr. Acosta stated, noting that Roberto Perez, a city hall staffer, encouraged him to speak out. “It is abhorrent that a movement that emerged as a demand to tell the truth is used to obfuscate, divide and attempt to denigrate New York City’s progressive agenda”.
De Blasio seems to have begun to soften his approach to charter schools in the area after failing last year to stop the expansion of Success Academy Charter Schools.