Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Dueling Ad Buys

Looks to me like, leading up to Governor Cuomos speech today, the StudentsFirstNY ad is drowning out NYSUT's. Yesterday morning I saw it frequently repeated on the morning news shows I like the NYSUT ad but it's not as strong as what I'd like to see. One thing NYSUT has that SFNY doesn't is an ostensibly reliable source, the NY Times. It demands fair funding for schools, but it doesn't demand that viewers contact Cuomo, their state representatives, or indeed anyone.

I have no idea why they left that out. It may not be the deal-breaker we're looking for. Of course, even if it is, until and unless someone breaks out that orange jumpsuit with Andy's number on it, we're stuck with him for another four years.

I think an uninformed viewer, I suppose the target audience, will be more drawn to the StudentsFirstNY ad. Big banner proclaims,  "Our schools are failing." We've heard that so often, and for so long, that we aren't all that likely to question it. Cuomo spouts platitudes with the best of them. All our kids will be smart, he says. I can only suppose the obstacle to that is those perfidious teachers, on their quest to make kids dumb. There's no reference to fair funding, which by this time the viewer has forgotten, if NYSUT's ad even registered at all. Let's make everyone smart. Who could oppose such a goal?

Of course, if we were smart, it would behoove us to educate ourselves. Cuomo calls himself the "student lobbyist," but has issued a one-two punch to schools that makes it virtually impossible to enable the world class education he's so fond of promising. The Gap Elimination Adjustment has cut aid to schools to such an extent that class sizes will rise, programs will be eliminated, and kids will suffer. Add to that Cuomo's signature policy of not allowing property tax to rise over 2% without 60% approval and you've got a sure way to deteriorate public education. Of course Cuomo himself couldn't achieve 60% approval, but he doesn't hold himself to that standard. He wins even as our kids lose.

Not at all sure the dueling ads will make a difference. It's particularly frustrating when most of the media is asleep, either by choice, paid for loyalty, or sheer laziness. I've read multiple op-ed columns in the times that looked as if they were recycled PR reports from Students First NY. Who knows how much these people get paid to spout uninformed gobbledygook for the paper of record?

I'll tweet today in support of what #AllKidsNeed, but I'm not altogether sure about #InviteCuomo. I'd just as soon have a virus in my room as a demagogue. Will it work?

I understand the skepticism. I share it, in fact. But what the hell, I'm up for a day of tweeting. Will it get us anywhere? I hope against hope it does. But I'm afraid years of neglect, years of accepting reformy nonsense, years of trying to appear reasonable by appeasing  fanatical ideologues are not gonna be wiped out by a bunch of unionists and newbies on Twitter. This fight would be a lot more interesting, for example, if union leadership opposed Common Core, as at least one union president has, like a healthy plurality of New Yorkers and every working teacher I know.

Dissenting opinions welcome. I'd love to be persuaded otherwise.
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