An advertising onslaught to promote a new charter school is being met by anonymous adversaries who have a guerilla marketing strategy of their own.
Glossy ads featuring smiling children went up this week in the Lorimer subway station for a Williamsburg branch of the Success Charter Network set to open in August. On one poster, a child is playing with blocks; in another, a child is looking through a magnifying glass.
“Most students learn science from a book,” one ad reads. “We teach science by allowing them to experience it.”
Within days of the ads’ arrival, someone had adorned the posters with quote bubble-shaped stickers criticizing the network, whose already ambitious expansion plans Mayor Bloomberg promised to fast-track during his State of the City speech Thursday.
The stickers feature familiar talking points from those who are critical of the Success charter schools, which are run by former City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz. Stickers target the network’s marketing budget and argue that the schools put too much focus on testing.
We haven’t heard from anyone taking responsibility for the stickets yet. (Let us know if it was you!) But the charter network has a long history of attracting adversaries, and the Williamsburg school has its share of opponents.This week, a neighborhood community board voted to oppose the city’s plan to house the charter school inside M.S. 50.
A Success Charter Network spokeswoman, Jenny Sedlis, said the stickers represented a coordinated attack on the network and its efforts to improve schools in the neighborhood.
“This is not the work of someone with a sharpie,” Sedlis said. “This is a well organized and well funded attempt to mislead parents and deny them information about public school options in their neighborhood. Luckily, parents are smarter than that and if anything, this cynical effort will backfire and actually encourage more families to consider their options when researching schools for their kids.”
The network’s strategy of blanketing neighborhoods where schools are opening with recruitment ads has long drawn criticism from some who question whether schools’ money is well spent on marketing. The network spent nearly $900,000 on student recruitment last year, Sedlis has said.