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Washington, U.S.A. – 857 empty desks on the National Mall represent the number of students who drop out of American schools every hour of every school day. On June 20 The College Board kicked off a nationwide movement to make education a more prominent issue in the 2012 presidential campaign.
The effort calls upon the major candidates to discuss and debate their plans for reform amid an alarming decline in the state of American education. The College Board launched the campaign on the National Mall with a compelling public installation of 857 school desks, representing the 857 students who drop out of American schools every hour of every school day.
“‘Don’t Forget Ed’ recognizes that education is the foundation of our society. If our schools fail, then so will everything else — from our economy to national security,” said College Board President Gaston Caperton. “Yet every four years, the issue of education is shockingly underplayed on the campaign trail. That’s why this year we are encouraging candidates all over the country to tell voters precisely how they would reverse the sharp decline of American education. Parents, teachers, students and administrators have had enough of the silence. This year they are speaking loud and clear, and the College Board is committed to amplifying their voices.”
“Don’t Forget Ed” is an innovative, multi-tactical campaign that is being launched on the National Mall with an installation of 857 empty school desks symbolizing the number of students who drop out of school every hour of every school day.
The campaign includes a website, a petition to be presented to the candidates at the nominating conventions, a full-page ad in The New York Times, and a PSA featuring former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and Merone Tesfaye. Tesfaye is a graduating senior at New York’s LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts and will be tweeting and speaking to promote the campaign over the summer months.
On August 15, “Don’t Forget Ed” will rally thousands of voices via Twitter and Facebook in order to send a powerful message to the candidates.”Don’t Forget Ed” will continue staging additional events in conjunction with the nominating conventions and leading up to Election Day to generate further support and engagement.
“We’re not criticizing any candidates and we are not advocating a particular policy. We are mobilizing students and others to create a more visible constituency that wants education to be a prominent issue in the election,” said Peter Kauffmann, vice president of communications at the College Board. A poll commissioned by the College Board in April 2012 found that 67 percent of voters in nine key swing states believe education is an “extremely important” issue in the run-up to the general election.
More than 1.2 million students drop out of school every year, which averages out to 6,000 students every school day and 857 every hour. Recent data show that students in this country rank 25th in math and 21st in science among students from 30 industrialized nations.