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Million-dollar ad buy pushes for Philly charter school expansion

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia. "Why are the politicians stopping good schools from helping more of our kids?"

That’s the question asked by one parent in a new advertising campaign promoting the expansion of charter schools in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia School Advocacy Partners, an arm of the Philadelphia School Partnership, will spend more than $1 million on the ads.

The ads come in the midst of the mayor’s race, in which candidates have traded jabs in the often harsh debate over the role of charter schools in Pennsylvania.

"We hope to impact the mayor’s race, but not in favor of any one candidate," said Mike Wang, executive director of PSAP.

Of the candidates, State Sen. Anthony Williams has most effectively championed the expansion of the charter sector.

Former State Sen. T. Milton Street has been the staunchest critic.

PSAP will not identify the donors paying for the airtime, though it says the donors are a subset of those listed on the Philadelphia School Partnership’s website.

A political action committee affiliated with the Philadelphia School Partnership, Excellent Schools PA, has donated to Williams’ campaign. That PAC is funded in large part by the Students First PAC, which is funded almost entirely by the three wealthy school-choice advocates who are actively supporting Williams’ mayoral bid.

Those three, who run the Bala Cynwyd-based Susquehanna International Group, donated $5 million to Williams’ failed gubernatorial campaign in 2010.

Although they are helping to fund Williams’ bid this year through their American Cities PAC, they say they did not contribute to PSAP’s ad buy.

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks

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