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ED IN ’08: Billionaire Philanthropists Gates and Broad Announce $60 Million Campaign to Make Education a Key Issue in 2008 Presidential Election

“Each year more than one million students drop out of high school. That’s one child every 29 seconds,” said Bill Gates

With all of the activity in Congress surrounding the rewrite of No Child Left Behind and improving the nation’s secondary schools, it’s only natural for education advocates to start thinking about how the next president of the United States will tackle the subject. Last week, the push for Ed in ’08 began in earnest when the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation joined forces to create Strong American Schools, a $60 million campaign to make education a key issue in the 2008 presidential race. Although the project will not endorse candidates, it will feature television and radio advertising and an Internet drive that will create a national network of volunteers.

“Each year more than one million students drop out of high school. That’s one child every 29 seconds,” said Bill Gates, cochair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “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.”

As part of the campaign, Strong American Schools will encourage presidential candidates to consider and debate, in particular, three “common-sense priorities” that can improve education in America: strong American education standards that are aligned with college and work expectations, effective teachers in every classroom, and more time and support for in-depth learning and greater personal attention for successful and struggling students alike.

“The American dream is slipping away, and unless our leaders dramatically improve our public schools, our standard of living, our economy and our very democracy will be threatened,” said Eli Broad, founder of the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Foundation. “Our country’s education system is no longer the best in the world. We need every American to demand better schools and specific policy solutions from presidential candidates. Our future depends on it.”

According to an article in the New York Times, the project would rank as “one of the most expensive single-issue initiatives ever in a presidential race.” It said that the campaign would “dwarf” the $22.4 million that the Swift Vets and P.O.W.s for Truth group spent against Senator John Kerry in 2004 and the $7.8 million spent on advocacy that year by AARP, the lobby group for older Americans.

More information on the Strong American Schools campaign is available at

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