SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: Amani Public Charter School Needs Darren Stevens

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Amani Public Charter School Needs Darren Stevens

Sorry Charlie. This is not personal, this is business. Sorry for lifting a line from the Godfather.

For those who don't recall, on January 25, I had Charlie Stern, founder of the Amani Public Charter School in Mount Vernon, NY, on as my guest on the radio show. I like Charlie, but adamantly disagree with him on his views of education.

But I came across something today, something that as usual tilts the tide towards charters. Something that traditional public schools are unable to do.

The Amani School has released a "Request For Proposal For Visual Identity, Marketing and Recruitment Plan and Publications." In other words, a request for advertising and marketing.

I assume that Mount Vernon will be hit soon with ads at bus stops, glitzy brochures, perhaps billboards, and an out of this world website. Perhaps a mascot, like the Hamburglar will help drive students to the school.

The question is what is this going to cost and where exactly is this money coming from. Now, if this were a true private school the source of the cash and the money spent does not have to be disclosed. I don't think Thornton-Donovan has to share that information for their billboards.

But Charlie in his interview claimed that Amani is a public school. A public school, receiving public funds. Of course full disclosure is needed. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I did indeed attend Thornton-Donovan in 1981. Asking my incompetent math teacher in front of the entire class if he had naked pictures of his wife kind of sealed my fate. Or it could have been after he replied no, asking him if he would like to by some did me in. But again, I am digressing.

But again, how can a true public school compete against the monies that private, oops, I meant charter, schools have available to them? Why can't Goldman Sachs give my school $21 million? Why can't I march into the Walton Family's pentagram worship and ask them for money for my school?

But why does Amani need to put out a "request for proposal?" This can be done so much cheaper and efficiently. I suggest that one can just contact Iona College or Sarah Lawrence College and find a college intern. Or, if I might be so bold, do it yourself. What you are requesting can all be done on one's home computer. For the printing, might I suggest Kinko's?

But if you feel you must use a advertising agency/marketing company, might I suggest McMann and Tate? It's a small boutique firm now, and they haven't really had a good client since Darren had his face altered.

Here is the marketing request:



Polo Colon said...

Fear not! Joel Klein to the rescue. He's on board with the News Corpse to market all the for-profit charter programs developed by them that you will never need. They will be as successful as his tenure with the DOA, I mean DOE! Did I use the word, "tenure"?

Charlie said...

BT - First of all, Darren Stevens was a cool dude, his wife was hotsy-totsy and he lived a suburban family life revered by millions. I’m sure he and Mr. Tate responded to RFP’s (Requests for Proposals) all the time. Regular public school districts use RFPs for all sorts of things - food services, transportation, legal services and more. Disclosure is one of the basic reasons for an RFP – so everybody has access to the same information.

Second, your school and all public schools CAN raise funds privately, and do so constantly. A couple of years ago the Mount Vernon Education Foundation funneled nearly $1 million in private contributions to the Mount Vernon School District to fund interscholastic sports. There are public education foundations nearly everywhere, including New York City, focused on strengthening schools and communities using private philanthropy. If your school isn’t linked to one, check out

I will acknowledge, there have been a few headline grabbing gifts to charters recently. However, there have also been some show-stopping gifts to regular school districts too – Gates’ Foundation awarded a Tampa public school district $100 million last year. Mark Zuckerberg donated $100 million to Newark’s public schools and that has the potential to be matched by another $100 million that Mayor Cory Booker is working on raising from private foundations and other sources. Education philanthropy is about much more than just charter schools.

Back to the RFP - Public charter schools, especially new ones, need to recruit students and to reach out to parents and other stakeholders. It’s an important part of the process, it entails considerable time and talent, and there’s no shame in reaching out for professional help to do this. If old Darren Stevens knew his way around Mount Vernon, I’m sure he would respond to the call.

Pissed Off said...

YOu may like that guy, but I didn't and I certainly did not trust one word he said.