By Emmelie De La Cruz
Wednesday, The College Board kicked off a national movement, “Don’t Forget Ed,” to make education a more prominent issue in the 2012 presidential campaign by calling upon the candidates to discuss their plans for reform. 857 school desks were placed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. as a compelling display representing the students that drop out every hour of every school day in our nation’s schools.
“‘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.”
There is no question that students leaving school is detrimental to our society, as there is a direct correlation between education and incarceration. According to the National Dropout Prevention Center, 82% of the inmates currently in our federal prisons are high school dropouts.
As pointed out by Kevin Chavous of the Huffington Post, “The average cost to care for those inmates is $55,000.00 per inmate. In contrast, we spend on average approximately $10,500 per student in our K-12 education system. And, as our prisons are consistently overcrowded, far too many of our public school districts have schools that are barely half full.”
It is disheartening that these statistics and correlations are not bringing a sense of urgency among leaders and policymakers. 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.
Now it is your turn to weigh in:
What would you suggest to the presidential candidates about education reform if you had 5 minutes with them?