Teachers Group Unfurls TV Effort

Swope-Assisted Campaign Tries to ‘Move the Meter’ on Public Ed
BOSTON–As the controversy surrounding education reform continues to swirl, the Massachusetts Teachers Association has launched a broadcast campaign designed to boost the image of public education.
The $2.2 million blitz includes television and radio executions developed by the MTA in tandem with political advertising firm Ken Swope & Associates, Marblehead, Mass., which also handled the media buy. Ads employ the tagline, “Public education. It’s how the dream works.”
The dedication of Bay State teachers, who, according to one TV spot, “never stop learning or caring,” is reinforced by classroom footage of hard-working educators. Will Lyman, who narrates the PBS-TV series Frontline, provides the voiceover. The effort runs through mid-November, with a spring revival that will likely include some new executions.
The Board of Education in September approved an initiative to rate schools based on standardized tests administered by the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System. That initiative and several others, including a proposal now before the legislature’s education committee that would ultimately cut teachers and their unions out of the process of setting performance standards and evaluation procedures, have been strongly opposed by the 87,000-member MTA.
While denying that the campaign is directly tied to the political climate, MTA spokesperson Andy Linebaugh conceded that the current mood helped convince organization members that the broadcast ads were needed.
“[Public education] has been under attack for the past couple of years,” said Linebaugh, adding that the campaign is designed to “move the meter” among both opinion leaders and parents.
Legislators and Board of Education officials did not return calls.