Would seeing 857 desks just sitting on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., get your attention. The College Board is sure hoping so, especially if your name happens to be Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.
Today, the organization, which puts out the SAT and other standardized tests officially kicked off its campaign—"Don’t Forget Ed"—which is meant to draw attention to the lack of discussion of education in the presidential campaign. Those desks, which are clustered today on the Mall, are meant to represent the number of students who drop out of American schools every hour of every school day—serving as a reminder to the candidates and others about what’s at stake on this issue.
That’s not all that “Don’t Forget Ed” has up its sleeve. They’ve now got a website up and running and are planning to present a petition to the candidates at the conventions, asking them to spend more time debating education. They’ve also produced a Public Service Announcement featuring New York’s former chancellor, Joel Klein, and a graduating high school senior. And they’re planning a social-media rally August 15, with folks participating on facebook and twitter.
This isn’t the first time, of course, that an outside, non-partisan group has tried to get more of a focus on education in a presidential campaign. The last group to try was ED in ’08. Check out this report from the American Enterprise Institute, written by This Week in Education‘s Alexander Russo, to see how that effort went over.
Photo: Omarae Pena dismantles a public art installation of 857 empty school desks, representing the number of students nationwide who are dropping out every hour of every school day. The display was set up on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on June 20. The College Board says it’s launching a national grassroots effort, beginning with this installation, to tell the candidates vying for the White House, “Don’t Forget Ed.” —Nicole Frugé/Education Week