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Vote for Ed in '08

May 01, 2007

Vote for Ed in '08! He’s got a simple platform:  improve education standards, ensure that a qualified teacher leads every class and give students more time and support for learning. In actuality, Ed is not a candidate for president in 2008. 

It is a campaign that was launched last week by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation to put education back on the agenda for presidential candidates.   They plan to invest $60 million, almost as much as some presidential campaigns, to get elected officials more engaged in this debate.

This effort is long overdue and hopefully it will reenergize our nation’s passion for quality education.  Over the last ten years America has been taking the quality of our schools for granted, allowing many children to fall through the cracks.   This campaign has the opportunity to really bring people together to identify solutions to the growing trouble in our schools.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation have realized that foundations can’t just identify solutions as an armchair quarterback.  They now have to advocate for them.  Many foundations have stayed out of this area because politics is considered too messy, especially with all the legal rules governing advocacy and lobbying.

This effort is a sign of how foundations need to reexamine how they carry out their mission.  Political advocacy has become increasingly important to any organization, whether a corporation, non-profit, think tank, or foundation.  That is why so many of them have developed grassroots communities to support their issues.  Elected officials and the media listen carefully to informed, passionate advocates in today’s political environment.

Also, these grassroots communities are beneficial because they democratize organizations.  They become more transparent thus allowing feedback to travel more quickly to the leadership of the organization.  This is critical to the success of any organization over the short and long-term.

The Vote for Ed campaign has the potential to create a real dialogue on the education challenges facing this country.  Utilizing the latest tools and technologies to create an effective grassroots community, this is one campaign that politicians can’t afford to ignore.

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