Education Grassroots Movement Calls for Candidates’ Attention

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The College Board launches their nationwide, grassroots movement ‘Don’t Forget Ed’ today in an effort to push education to the forefront of policy issues in the 2012 Presidential race. ‘Don’t Forget Ed’ will take place on the National Mall, in front Congress where a demonstration will display 857 empty desks to symbolize the alarming statistics of dropouts in the United States.

857 American students drop out of school every hour of everyday, resulting in approximately 1.2 million drop out every year.

The movement aims to force presidential candidates to discuss and debate policy reforms for education in the United States. Education has often fallen by the wayside compared to other the key policy issues.

“If our schools fail, then so will everything else — from our economy to national security,” said College Board President Gaston Caperton in a statement. “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.”

An April poll conducted by the College Board found 67 percent of voters in nine key swing states believe education is an “extremely important” issue in the run-up to the general election.

The main party presidential candidates President Obama and Mitt Romney both have past experience and future proposals for education.

Since taking office, President Obama reformed ‘No Child Left Behind’ allowing states more flexibility outside the Act’s past mandates. Obama also implemented the ‘Recovery Act’ in 2010 to help prevent further teacher and school staff layoffs.

As far as long-term policy, the President wanted to provide alternative forms of standardized testing to more accurately assess student learning in the United States.

These new assessments will not be released to schools until 2014. It is difficult to see if the program will provide a more accurate assessment of student learning in the United States, according to Jennifer Cohen, Senior Policy Analyst at the New American Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute.

In the President’s 2012 re-election campaign, President Obama continues to focus on student loan reform in an effort to make college more affordable by extending the ‘American Opportunity Tax Credit.’ This college tax credit will potentially aid an estimated 9.4 million students and families.

As Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney expanded access to high-quality public charter schools. He also created ‘John and Abigail Adams Scholarship,’ a scholarship program geared towards providing four-years of school tuition-free full for Massachusetts students that scored within the top 25 percent in their school.

In his current campaign, Gov. Romney advocates for increased opportunity to attend college that best suits all types of students needs. He believes whether school public or private, traditional or online, college must be available and affordable.

Although both candidates’ platforms on education reform emphasize the importance of the issue, both fail to distinguish specific policy goals. ‘Don’t forget Ed’ may compel the both to vocally publicize future plans and reforms especially in a time when voters believe education reform to be a major policy concern.