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On the Air

As a public television station our greatest reach is through our broadcast signal. Through reporting and analysis on our flagship news magazine, Chicago Tonight, and through public service announcements during station breaks, WTTW is raising awareness of the issues and understanding of the social responsibility to encourage and support young people toward achieving their high school diploma. Programs like PBS NewsHour and Frontline provides a national perspective on the dropout crisis. 

Chicago Tonight

Through interviews with local education leaders, researchers, and the people directly affected by the dropout crisis Chicago Tonight journalists are telling the story of Chicago’s high dropout rate and the work being done to raise graduation rates.

December 6, 2012 - American Graduate Special on Chicago Tonight


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

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.

December 6, 2012 - OneGoal Sets High Bar for Low-Income Students - OneGoal, a nonprofit educational organization, pinpoints and targets low-income, underperforming students in non-selective Chicago Public Schools to reverse the trend that shows nationally, only 8 percent of ninth graders in low-income communities are expected to graduate college by age 25.

December 6, 2012 - Truancy: Chicago's Missing Student Problem - Students who are truant in their K-8 years are much more likely to drop out of high school later down the road. Elizabeth Brackett reports on one elementary school's hands-on approach to combat the truancy crisis.

September 25, 2012 - Elizabeth Brackett speaks with administrators and researchers about the charter school expansion in Chicago. The conversation includes a discussion about how effective charter schools have been in raising graduation rates.

September 24, 2012 - Eddie Arruza interviews Edmond "AJ" Shoat, a recent Chicago high school dropout, to better understand the issues students, families, and educators deal with in the struggle to keep teens in school and on a path towards graduation.

February 27, 2012 - Elizabeth Brackett visits a program at the American Indian Association designed to support the cultural education of Native Americans in Chicago.

December 8, 2011 - Andrew Sum, Professor from the Center for Labor Market Studies, Northeastern University-Boston, talks with Phil Ponce about the labor market, civic, social, and fiscal costs of Chicago’s high dropout rate.

November 7, 2011 - Elizabeth Brackett interviews school leaders from Team Englewood and Youth Connection Charter Schools, as well as researchers from the University of Chicago to examine the dropout crisis in Chicago.

November 7, 2011 - Jean-Claude Brizard, CEO of Chicago Public Schools, talks with Phil Ponce about how the Chicago Public School system is handling high dropout rates.

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Public Awareness Campaign

WTTW has produced public service announcements to help people recognize that the dropout crisis is a societal problem and to bring awareness of the resources available for individuals struggling to keep teens focused on their education and to adults who want to be part of the solution.

Released November 2011 - PSA: Chicago’s dropout crisis.

Released March 2012 - PSA: The social and economic ramifications of a high dropout rate are revealed, reminding us that this is everyone’s problem. Facts are based on a report released in December 2011 by the Center for Labor Market Studies, Northeastern University.

Released March 2012 - PSA: The dropout crisis affects everyone.

Youth Produced Media

In partnership with Free Spirit Media, a non-profit youth media organization working with high school students in Chicago, WTTW has provided guidance and consultation on the production of public service announcements encouraging their peers to stay in school. In addition, several teens in this program participated in the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs, resulting in video reports with a youth perspective on the issues of the dropout crisis.

Released November 2011 - PSA: "Stay In School."

Released November 2011 - PSA: "See Yourself in a Different Light"

Released March 2012 - PSA: "Find Your Inspiration- Long Version"

Released March 2012 - PSA: "Find Your Inspiration- Music"

Released March 2012 - PSA: "Find Your Inspiration- Science"

Released March 2012 - PSA: "Knowledge is Money"

Completed December 2011 - PBS NewsHour Student Report: A student reporter visits Gary Comer College Prep.

Completed December 2011 - PBS NewsHour Student Report: A former high school dropout who re-enrolled at the Howard Area Leadership Academy is interviewed.

Completed May 2012 - PBS NewsHour Student Report: A student reporter interviews successful Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men students who are college bound.

Nationally Produced Media

Public media institutions across the country have produced programming to raise awareness of the low graduation rates, the problems it creates, and examined the potential solutions.

FRONTLINE: Dropout Nation
Documentarians take a look at states that have the lowest rate of graduation in the country and examine the programs in place to prevent future dropouts.

FRONTLINE: Middle School Moment
Dr. Robert Balfanz, a researcher from Johns Hopkins University uncovered a series of indicators that he says can predict how likely a student is to drop out of high school if effective intervention is not used in Middle School. Watch Omarina’s story.

PBS NewsHour: Denzel Washington Interview
Denzel Washington spoke with Gwen Ifill of the PBS NewsHour about the dropout issue.

Too Important To Fail
A Tavis Smiley PBS documentary looks at how the dropout crisis affects African American males, and what some communities are doing about it.

WBEZ Radio (91.5 FM)
WBEZ, Chicago’s NPR station, highlights the dropout crisis, demonstrating the struggles and successes that some of Chicago’s toughest schools are having trying to improve graduation rates.

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