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TV adverts sell school dreams

New York's schools are drawing on the power of television in an attempt to shed their reputation for overcrowding, understaffing, and low achievement.

Advertisements on local channels will highlight recent reforms in the city's education system and paint schools as places for children to realise their dreams.

One 30-second advert entitled Dreamers, features children discussing their future, including a girl who wants to make films and a boy who plans to be mayor. Adverts direct viewers to a website where they can donate money or volunteer as mentors.

"This is a terrific campaign," said the city's schools' chancellor Joel Klein. "We have a lot to be proud of in our schools and it is vital that New Yorkers come together to support them."

The advertisements were produced for free by a Manhattan agency, with airtime donated by leading stations. Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late President John F Kennedy and a senior official in the New York education department, was the driving force for the project, which she described as "a way to capture people's attention and emotions".

Mr Klein has also persuaded business leaders to fund the recruitment and salaries of up to 600 new principals. But critics of the TV campaign see it as little more than a self-congratulatory PR exercise for Klein and the city's mayor Michael Bloomberg.

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