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Merone Tesfaye Headshot

Don't Forget Ed

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I'm an 18-year-old girl from Brooklyn who is determined to alter the course of this year's presidential election. I'm going to do it by getting everyone I know and everyone they know to ask President Obama and Governor Romney not to forget ed. Not forget who? Ed, as in education.

Campaigns and the press that cover them always highlight the issues that polls suggest are the most important. Today those issues are, understandably, creating new jobs and generating economic activity. Of course the candidates must tell us how they would put more Americans back to work and get our main streets buzzing again. We need their leadership on how to promote a strong economic recovery. But will they also tell us how they would stage a strong education recovery?

We desperately need one. American students rank 21st in science and 25th in math when compared to students in 30 industrialized countries. Twenty first place and 25th place? Imagine if American athletes placed 21st or 25th in Olympic medals in London. The outrage would be deafening. Demands for reform would be heard on every corner. Yet we have tolerated a steep decline in the ability of students like me to compete against the best and the brightest from other countries with barely a peep.

We can no longer afford to sit back and settle for the decline of our educational competitiveness. A good education is the key to the very things Americans care about most: economic growth, innovation, opportunity. Either we improve our schools or we watch other countries pass us by. It is that simple.

It's not that President Obama or Governor Romney don't understand the value of education. They do. Just look at the degrees both of these men obtained before they went on to great careers. But we have to let them know that leading in education is our top priority for the nation's future, and we must debate their plans for an educational recovery no matter what other issues they address on the campaign trail.

I graduated from Manhattan's LaGuardia High School in May. The school is known for inspiring the hit movie and TV show Fame. They even pipe the theme song through the AV system every morning during announcements to remind the talented and ambitious students of what they can do. But most of us will probably never be famous. Instead, we will be vying for jobs against kids like us from all over the world.

Whether we win those jobs comes down to the quality of our education. It does not take a PhD to figure out what will happen in a global economy if other countries invest more in their schools to prepare their youth for jobs. America will fall further behind unless we tell the candidates: Don't Forget Ed.