Tourists trying to figure out how to reach the capital’s monuments and museums on Wednesday found something on the National Mall that was not on their maps: 857 student desks arrayed near the Washington Monument.
Each desk represents one of the 857 students who drop out of high school in the United States every single hour, every single school day, according to the College Board, which arranged the display to underline its effort to urge presidential candidates to put education at the top of their to-do lists.
The board had nearly a dozen people, iPads in hand, gathering signatures in nearly 100-degree weather for an online petition that said: “If you want my support, I need to hear more from you about how you plan to fix the problems with education. And not just the same old platitudes. I want to know that you have real, tangible solutions, and that once in office, you’re ready to take serious action. I’ll be watching your acceptance speech at your party’s convention.”
More than 22,000 people had signed the petition by Wednesday evening, with most signatures coming from people who had found it online.