Desks in DC


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If you headed down to National Mall the past couple of days, you might have seen the 857 desks, representing the statistical 857 students who drop out of America’s High Schools every hour, every day, displayed not far from the base of the Washington Monument. This installation was part of the College Board’s latest national campaign “Don’t Forget Ed”. In its first foray into politics, as mentioned in the New York Times, the College Board (or the organization who brought you the SAT) hopes to relay the importance of talking about education in this year’s Presidential Election, and urge candidates to make the formulation of thorough plans to improve education as priority at this election.

More than 1.2 million American students drop out of school every year – approximately 6,000 a day, 1 every 26 seconds. According to the Huffington Post, as American students drop out of school, their chances at securing jobs and maintaining healthy lifestyles decreases dramatically, contributing to the root of some of America’s most pertinent problems, from unemployment to the economic crisis. In fact, close to 44% of school dropouts under age 24 are unemployed, and they earn, on an average, $260,000 less than a high school graduate.

Though many say that the results of this election will be determined largely by how President Obama manages to turn the economy around, it is imperative anyhow that the children of America be educated, especially since other developed economies who oust American students at International Math and Science Assessments are the ones the United States compete with. “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. Indeed, education is highly relevant to voters, as studies show that 67% of registered voters in nine key swing states opined that education is an “extremely important” issue in the run-up to the Presidential elections. However, Daniel Luzer of the Washington Post writes that Romney and Obama are not going to debate education policy because it’s something they largely agree about, and hence there’s no room for much debate or argument, similar to America’s stance on Cuba.

The College Board writes, “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.” Because if America really want to make sure No Child gets Left Behind, we need to do more than just talk about the 68% of 8th graders who cannot read proficiently, and most who will likely never catch up. We need to make education reform a priority.


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