While schools across the country are letting out this week, class is in session on the National Mall. That is where the College Board set up 857 student desks in the blazing sun Tuesday, the Associated Press reports. The empty desks – one for each student who drops out each hour of every school day, according to the College Board – are part of its “Don’t Forget Ed!” campaign. For the launch Wednesday, College Board representatives including college-aged students will circle the seats on the Mall, asking passersby to sign petitions urging the presidential candidates to say more about education reform. One of those students is Merone Tesfaye, 18, who will attend the University of Wisconsin in the fall.

“This is supposed to be the land of opportunity, and most people don’t pursue a secondary education, because they can’t afford it,” said Tesfaye, who will take the train from New York City to Washington, D.C., to help kick off the campaign.

The number of desks is derived from a statistic reported by Education Week in 2007 saying that 1.2 million students drop out every year. The campaign is the College Board’s first venture into the world of politics, though its vice president of communications, Peter Kauffmann, assured that they are not endorsing any candidates…

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staff and wire services reports