Visitors to the Washington Monument were greeted with an unusual display this past week – 857 empty school desks aligned right in front of the Monument. The desks were placed there as part of the College Board’s “Don’t Forget Ed” campaign and represented the 857 high school students that drop out of schools across America every hour of every school day. Row after row of empty desks on the National Mall lawn made for a stunning visual image of just how big the problem is.
Members of the College Board were on hand gathering signatures for a petition to the presidential candidates, which, according to The New York Times stated: “If you want my support, I need to hear more from you about how you plan to fix the problems with education. And not just the same old platitudes. I want to know that you have real, tangible solutions, and that once in office, you’re ready to take serious action. I’ll be watching your acceptance speech at your party’s convention.”
“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.
According to the College Board, 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.
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.