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“This is a problem we can’t afford to accept or ignore. The stakes are too high – for our children, for our economy, for our country. It’s time for all of us to come together – parents and students, principals and teachers, business leaders and elected officials.”
– President Barack Obama


Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 7 pm - Chicago Tonight’s American Graduate Special

With a nationwide high school graduation rate of 75 percent and a graduation rate in the Chicago Public Schools at 65 percent, what happens to the other millions of students nationwide and thousands locally who don’t graduate? Chicago Tonight’s American Graduate Special, with a live studio audience, examines this crisis and what can be done about it.

Watch the program below and please take this brief survey AFTER watching the Chicago Tonight's American Graduate Special.

December 6, 2012 - American Graduate Special on Chicago Tonight


The panelists answer candid questions from the studio audience in our
web-extra video.

Today, nearly 35% of high school students in Chicago will not graduate. This translates to thousands of youth who will not achieve a traditional diploma each year.

On December 6, 2012, WTTW’s nightly news and public affairs program, Chicago Tonight, devoted an hour-long broadcast and an additional 30-minute web extra to the subject of Chicago's dropout crisis. This program, originally broadcast live before a studio audience, explores the issues that have lead to low graduation rates and truancy, as well as the programs struggling to encourage social and educational success through high school graduation and secondary education. Chicago Tonight host, Phil Ponce, spoke with youth, education professionals, and research experts to explore who is affected, what they have experienced, how they are trying to improve graduation rates at their schools, and what the statistics mean to our community and those most affected. We learn more about the truancy issues in Chicago's public schools, as well as a mentor organization, called One Goal, that is successfully helping youth stay on track toward graduation and consider college. The studio audience included youth, educators, parents, community leaders, mentors, and representatives from non-profit organizations and educational institutions. Many asked questions or shared their ideas and suggestions in the final 30-minute web extra portion of the program.

Click here to view the recap of the 90-minute live online chat.

The Dropout Crisis

In the United States, over one million students drop out of high school each year. In the Chicago area, there are nearly 42,000 young people without a regular high school diploma. This site is dedicated to the American Graduate initiative, which helps local communities across America finds solutions to address the dropout crisis, and to the related issues we face and resources that are available Chicago.

Read the transcript from a recent live chat about the new FRONTLINE documentary, “Dropout Nation” – an unforgettable portrait of four students in crisis and the teachers, counselors, and principal waging a daily struggle to guide them to graduation day. Producer Frank Koughan and his team spent a semester at Houston’s Sharpstown High School to explore a high-stakes experiment which is underway to rescue students from the edge and turn around one of the city’s worst performing schools.

Frank Koughan, Houston school administrators Brandi Brevard and Mark White, and John Bridgeland from Civic Enterprises discussed questions like: What is at stake for students who dropout? What are the challenges they face? And what can be done to stem the tide of this national emergency?

About the American Graduate Initiative

American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen! is a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help local communities across America finds solutions to address the dropout crisis. This initiative builds on public media’s long-standing commitment to education.

WTTW, along with CPB and America’s Promise Alliance, are working to raise awareness and community engagement around the dropout crisis. Through public service announcements, youth-generated videos, resources on this website, and special segments on our flagship nightly news magazine Chicago Tonight, we will build awareness of the drop out crisis in Chicago. Through partnerships with community organizations dedicated to educating, empowering, and supporting bright futures for young people in Chicago we will work to dispel the myth that this problem is too big to solve and bring people together to help students stay on the path to a high school diploma.

View a list of WTTW’s American Graduate Community Partners

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