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Don’t Forget Ed – Ever!

by Justin Marquis Ph.D.

Education should be our number one national priority, and the Don’t Forget Ed campaign is looking to make sure that it is one of the key issues in the 2012 presidential campaign. The effort, backed by the College Board, is attempting to generate a grassroots movement to make politicians prioritize education so that the U.S. can begin climbing back from the middle of the global learning pack. Here is a look at the movement and what you can do to lend your support.

The Issues
According to the College Board report available on the Don’t Forget Ed website, there are many issues that prospective voters want to have considered as part of the focus on making education a key point of emphasis in the upcoming election. Among the issues cited are:

  • Education and the economy – Voters see supporting and reforming education as essential to getting the economy back on track and ensuring that we are able to compete in the global economy (p. 2).
  • Funding – According to the poll, 78% of voters say that increased educational funding is a key issue for them in the upcoming election (p. 2).
  • College Affordability – Voters want an emphasis on keeping community colleges and state universities affordable for everyone (p.3).
  • Well-Rounded Curriculum in K-12 – Voters want elementary and secondary schools to offer a well-rounded education that includes art, music, and physical education (p.3).
  • More Vocational Options in High School – Some voters would like to see candidates  emphasize more vocational and technical options for high school students (p. 3).
  • Graduation Rate – Voters support candidates who want to increase high school graduation rates (p.4).
  • Guarantees of skills for college graduates – 56% of those surveyed believe that the performance of colleges should be improved to guarantee that graduates have the skills necessary to "get good jobs" (p.4).
  • Parental Responsibility – More than half of voters would like to see an increased emphasis on parental responsibility for educational achievement (p.4).
  • Local and State Responsibility/Priority – 90% of voters feel that state and local responsibility for education should be a major issue, while 76% also believe that the President and Congress should make education a matter of national policy (p. 4).
  • DREAM Act support – 65% of voters would be more likely to support a candidate who supports the DREAM act, allowing children of undocumented immigrants to become legal citizens if they complete college (p.5).

These are the issues that Don’t Forget Ed is promoting through their website and the information that they provide. Interesting in their absence from the report are vouchers, teacher accountability, and parental trigger laws. These policies would not appear to be high priorities for Don’t Forget Ed movement or voters in general. While the issues that they do advocate for are all valid and important, they are missing one critical point that is necessary for making American students truly competitive in the Information Age.

One More Issue
The issues advocated for on Don’t Forget Ed are mainstream concerns that the voting public is already aware of and can easily lend support to. One more of equal or greater importance is to push our representatives to make technology and innovation core components of education. Including a deep, systemic integration of technology as a primary focus of our educational system would provide students with the background skills and knowledge to not only be contributors to the global economy, but to become the innovators and entrepreneurs who drive it. Here are some of the ways in which making technology the core of education would benefit students and society:

  • Incorporating new media as the primary means of student expression and communication provides them with an understanding of the ways in which real world interactions occur and aids in developing technological literacy.
  • Technology enhanced education facilitates a student centered, personalized learning model that allows each individual to pursue their interests and to chart their own course for learning.
  • Technology helps to facilitate authentic experiences that allow students to apply knowledge, share their insights with the world, and participate in global discourse about real issues.
  • Individualized and adaptable education options facilitated by technology allow education to shift to a 24 hour a day 7 day a week model that would benefit all students by allowing them to learn at times that best suit their lifestyles and goals
  • In addition to being available any time, technology allows for the possibility that education and learning can be accessible anywhere and in any medium.
  • Technology and student-centered, individualized learning options make it possible for education to become mastery-based rather than dependent on fixed schedules
  • A reliance of advanced communication media as a core of education encourages publication and portfolio creation by students and helps to move education toward authentic assessment and away from standardized measures.
    (Based on Technology is the Answer to Educational Reform, 23 July, 2012)

Pushing politicians to make technology the core of the educational system would not only accomplish all of these things, but would also go a long way towards alleviating many of the concerns expressed by voters in the College Board survey.

Add Your Voice
While the Don’t Forget Ed’s social media rally happened on August 15, 2012, it is never too late to lend your voice to the movement to make education a key issue for the upcoming elections. The Don’t Forget Ed website contains an entire DIY section with suggestions for "Tweeting an Influencer," posting education related facts on Facebook, spreading the word with T-shirts, posters, and digital badges, and sharing the College Board report and this informative video featuring students, teachers, and parents.

Education should be our number one national priority, not just in an election year, but every year. Making a strong statement about the societal importance of learning can begin now, with this presidential election, but to make the movement truly meaningful, we will have to carry it forward even after November to make sure that our politicians follow through with their education-related promises.