The billboard pictured above hangs across the street from Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) headquarters. It is paid for by Better Ed, an offshoot of a think-tank called Intellectual Takeout.
For the last year, Better Ed has generated mailers, both digital and the old-fashioned kind, criticizing MPS for being an expensive sinkhole. The far-right group’s communiqués often are accompanied by racially suggestive graphics.
The argument — constructed using dollar figures no one I know can replicate — seems to be that MPS spends more getting less in the way of results than Edina, Eden Prairie and other districts. (And yes, I and others have attempted to reach out for clarification and comment, to no avail.)
But why aim this particular billboard at district HQ? Located on West Broadway in north Minneapolis, the building is miles from the neighborhoods occupied by voters to whom Better Ed’s anti-investment message is ostensibly aimed. Nor is it a corridor frequented by policymakers who might pick up on it.
No, my guess is it’s intended to shame the men and women who go to work every day at the Davis Center — to send the message that the outside world is sitting in judgment. And to draw attention to Better Ed, which delights in responding to critics by declaring reactions a sign that it is more than a guy with a blog and a mailing list.
Too bad the money and energy it took to figure out how to position this message directly in front of MPS Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson’s office windows wasn’t put to use coming up with something constructive.