A school-choice advocacy group in Philadelphia will roll out on Monday the first of a planned series of television advertisements to promote its cause as voters consider whom to support in the mayor's race.
Mike Wang, executive director of Philadelphia School Advocacy Partners, said his organization intended to spend more than $1 million on television ads in the coming months, much of it after the May 19 primary.
"This is about getting every child access to a great school," Wang said, adding that the group would spend "whatever it will take to do that."
The 30-second ad, which will run on cable and network television in the Philadelphia area, criticizes politicians who "won't allow more public charter schools" and spotlights the power of the vote wielded by families seeking better school options.
Wang said real parents "speaking from the heart" were used in the video. The ad was produced by the Campaign Group, headed by political and media consultant Neil Oxman. The advocacy group anticipates running ads through July.
Though the video makes no reference to the mayor's race, it comes amid a heated campaign in which education has been a central issue.
Philadelphia School Advocacy Partners is an arm of the Philadelphia School Partnership, which is funded by a number of donors, including Jeffrey Yass, one of three Main Line financial traders who support Democratic State Sen. Anthony H. Williams' mayoral campaign.
Mark Alderman, a lawyer for the independent expenditure group financed by Yass and his partners to support Williams, said Yass and his wife had assured him they were not among donors who contributed to Philadelphia School Advocacy Partners' ad campaign.
Wang said the advertisements were being funded by some of the partnership's donors, but he declined to identify them. He said the advertisements targeted elected officials and those seeking office.
"The bulk of our ad buy is going to come after" the mayoral primary election, Wang said.
"There's a clear message for anyone who is currently in office or who is seeking office," he said, noting that it directly applied to legislators in Harrisburg determining the state budget. "These families expect to be heard."
The ad prominently declares the need for charter schools, which Wang said were "a critical part of any strategy to [increase] the number of high-performing schools."
He said, however, that the group was committed to "schools of all types" so long as they work.
The partnership had offered the financially strained School District of Philadelphia $25 million to cover costs associated with creating new charter schools, a potential deal that drew criticism from some and that was not advanced.