Will ED in '08 Succeed?

By Del Stover

Whether it’s handing out ice cream cones at a Republican political event or asking a state legislator to have a tête–à–tête (albeit briefly) with Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton, the Strong American Schools initiative is working hard to make education a top issue in the 2008 presidential campaign.

If you haven’t heard of this effort—also known as the “ED in ’08” campaign—don’t worry. Most people haven’t. But it’s worth watching: Backed by a $60 million commitment from billionaire philanthropists Bill Gates and Eli Broad, this political action campaign promises to be the most expensive single-issue initiative ever designed to influence a presidential race.

Its goal is laudable—and more than a little relevant to local school policymakers. With concerns over the war in Iraq, health care, and immigration threatening to overshadow education issues, Strong American Schools aims to keep education in the political spotlight where it belongs.

“We all must demand that candidates and our leaders share their opinions and policies on how our country will offer all young people strong American schools,” Bill Gates said at the campaign’s launch last spring.

To make that happen, the campaign is relying on television and radio ads in key battleground states, high visibility at political events, and a national network of political leaders and grassroots volunteers from both political parties working to spread the campaign’s message. The goal is not only to push the candidates on the issue but also to raise public awareness of the issue’s importance.

Will it succeed?

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