In a major demonstration that they mean business when it comes to forcing education to the front of the issues this political season, a group formed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors this week pledged $5 million to run pro-education TV ads in seven key presidential battleground states. "This is a major buy meant to push the issue up to the front and shake things up," says a spokesman.
The philanthropists, who head Ed in '08, are hoping that their Strong American Schools campaign will draw attention to problems in education and prompt political candidates to focus more on fixing schools throughout the nation. The ads will run in 16 markets in Missouri, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, New Mexico, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Both Democratic and Republican analysts said that the effort will have to stay strong and well funded to top the bigger issues of the economy and Iraq. But, says a key Democrat: "If they tie education to the economy and diplomacy, something not too hard to do, it could make education a big deal."
The ads feature the voice of actress Jamie Lee Curtis, who is also a children's book writer. "I believe that every child deserves an education which helps them reach their full potential," she said in a statement. "America's current public education system is failing to give our students the skills they need to succeed in today's global economy. As a mother, I know nothing is more important then ensuring our children have a solid foundation for their success later in life. This foundation includes strong schools and a world-class education to help them succeed. I urge our nation's leaders to make education reform a priority."
The group believes that local and federal authorities must do more to boost schools. "Our new ad campaign, coupled with our presence in states including Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio, gives Americans the opportunity to talk about education and urge the leaders of this country to work with parents, teachers, activists, and community leaders to create real change in the way we educate our kids," said Roy Romer, chairman of Strong American Schools. Romer is a former Democratic Party chairman and Colorado governor.
Here are the ad scripts:
STRONG AMERICAN SCHOOLS AD SCRIPTS
30-Second TV Ad Script:
ANNCR: This boy's future isn't looking so good. The schools in every one of these countries are outperforming ours. America is now twenty-first in science; twenty-fifth in math. The countries with the best schools attract the best jobs. And if jobs move to countries like Finland and South Korea, our children's opportunities dry up. And so does our economy. America is only as strong as her schools.
60 Second Radio Script:
8TH GRADE BOY: Finland . . . Canada . . . Japan . . .
ANNCR: If your child goes to school in America . . .
8TH GRADE BOY: . . . Australia . . .
ANNCR: . . . this commercial may cause nausea, headache, or uncontrollable anger.
8TH GRADE BOY: . . . South Korea . . . Germany . . .
ANNCR: The schools in every one of these countries are outperforming ours.
8TH GRADE BOY: . . . United Kingdom . . .
ANNCR: Twenty of them beat us in science.
8TH GRADE BOY: . . . Czech Republic . . .
ANNCR: Twenty-four beat us in math.
8TH GRADE BOY: . . . Austria . . . Belgium . . .
ANNCR: The countries with the best schools attract the best jobs.
8TH GRADE BOY: . . . Ireland . . . Hungary . . .
ANNCR: If jobs move to these countries . . .
8TH GRADE BOY: . . . Sweden . . .
ANNCR: . . . your child's opportunities dry up.
8TH GRADE BOY: . . . Poland . . . Denmark . . .
ANNCR: And so does our economy.
8TH GRADE BOY: . . . France . . .
ANNCR: America is only as strong as her schools. Find out how your child stacks up against chilren in all these countries at: strong-American-schools-dot-org.
8TH GRADE BOY: . . . and . . . Iceland.
ANNCR: As our schools go, so goes our country.
SECOND ANNCR: Paid for by Strong American Schools, a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. SAS does not support or oppose any candidate for public office, and does not take positions on legislation.
By Paul Bedard