Hey You! Don’t Forget Ed!

Photo: Merone Tesfaye, 18-year-old spokesperson for the Don't Forget Ed campaign. (Pete Marovich)

It’s getting to be back to school time…annnd the presidential election is around the corner, so how do these two things go together? The College Board is sponsoring a movement called Don’t Forget Ed that wants to get politicians to talk more about education. 18-year-old Merone Tesfaye is a spokesperson for Don’t Forget Ed, so we asked if she could teach us a little more (get it?).

In addition to getting the deets from Merone, we also have a cool fact for you: today Don’t Forget Ed is encouraging as many people as possible to Tweet a message to Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. A Tweet about education, of course! Let ’em know what you think and remember to put the hashtag #DontForgetEd. For more info, we go to Merone.

Photo:  Merone Tesfaye doesn’t want y’all to forget about ed! (DontForgetEd.org)

ACT: Why did you get involved with the campaign?

MERONE: Education has already opened so many doors for me. I’m headed off to the University of Wisconsin in the fall, with the hope of one day having a career in advertising. But it’s unclear how long kids like me will have these kinds of opportunities. American education used to be the envy of the world, but these days our students rank 25th in math and 21st in science compared to students in 30 industrialized countries. Can you imagine what would have happened if the US Olympic team placed 25th or 21st in medals in London? There’d be outrage and embarrassment on every front page in the country. Yet we’ve tolerated the steep decline of our education system with barely a peep. If we want to ensure a strong economic future for this nation, then we need stronger schools in every community — and we need them now.

ACT: How did you become a spokesperson for it?

MERONE: I’ve been passionate about education issues for a long time. I was a teacher’s assistant at a public school on the Lower East Side. I’ve also been involved with Girls Learn International, which works to expand education opportunities for young women across the world. So when my father’s company was hired to help the College Board create Don’t Forget Ed, I jumped at the chance to help out. I was interviewed to play a role in the campaign’s first public service announcement, and then was cast for their next video, in which I appeal to the presidential candidates to make education a higher priority.

ACT: How can other students get involved?

MERONE: Today, we’re trying to rally as many people as possible to Tweet the candidates about the importance of education, using the hashtag #DontForgetEd. The more you Tweet today, the harder it will be for the candidates to ignore. We’ve also got a petition that people can sign. Later this fall, we’ll be recruiting supporters at college campuses across the nation, and we’ll be sending kits to high school teachers to mobilize their classrooms. A lot of students are not old enough to vote yet, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a voice and don’t have needs. Are teenagers considered a special interest group? Maybe we should become one if it will help us get the candidates to fully address the issue that’s most important to our future.

ACT: What do you think might help improve education?

MERONE: Personally, I’d like to see college become more affordable so that it’s accessible to more people. But the wonderful thing about Don’t Forget Ed is that it doesn’t take a position on what should or shouldn’t be done to improve the state of education. It doesn’t side with one candidate or the other. Don’t Forget Ed’s goal is simply for President Obama and Governor Romney to give education the attention it deserves.