“They found a way to make money and profit off little black boys and girls,” she said. “They act as if they are here to save us.”
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.
The ad contrasted the educations of a young white boy and a black boy in New York City, saying the white child would attend a good school and go to college while the black child would be trapped in a struggling school and never make it to college.
Bertha Lewis, the president of the Black Institute, called it “the most racist ad I’ve seen in my life.”
“They found a way to make money and profit off little black boys and girls,” she said. “They act as if they are here to save us.
Zakiyah Ansari, the advocacy director of the Alliance for Quality Education, made a similar argument. AQE is partially funded by city and state teachers’ unions.
“They are using a black face to push their political agenda, and they make the assumption that all black people are poor,” she said. “They used our children in a race-baiting commercial.”
Some called on FES to remove the ad on Friday.
Brooklyn Assemblyman N. Nick Perry called on FES to “do the right thing” and pull the ad. Perry — who is also the chairman of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus — said he was “incensed over the use of blatant race baiting tactics to advance the agenda of FES.”
Other elected officials also took issue with the ad.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer accused FES in a statement of helping to “divert money, resources and space from our public schools … into increasingly unaccountable private empires. The rhetoric of this ad, and the people and money behind it, are part of the problem.”
New York City Council education committee chair Danny Dromm called the ad “highly divisive and harmful.”
Representatives for three of New York’s largest charter networks — KIPP, Uncommon, and Achievement First — did not respond to requests for comment about the ad.
A spokesperson for FES declined to comment.