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High Dropout Rate for Chicago Schools

WTTW11 Kicks Off "American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen"

Nearly 40 percent of Chicago Public School students drop out. Why are they dropping out and what can be done to get them back on track to graduate? Elizabeth Brackett looks at two programs with some answers. Then, we talk with Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard about the dropout epidemic and how CPS is working to change it on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm.

On Monday, WTTW11 kicks-off American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, a public media initiative supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help local communities across America address the dropout crisis.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard

CPB, in partnership with America's Promise Alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is working with public media stations in 20 hub markets where the dropout crisis is most acute to raise awareness of the issue and coordinate action with community partners – all with the goal of helping students stay on course to graduate from high school.

“Although the graduation rate in the Chicago Public Schools and many suburban schools has improved somewhat over the past decade, the staggering number of students dropping out affects us all, socially, economically, and competitively.” said Daniel J. Schmidt, President and CEO of WTTW. “The American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen initiative is public media’s attempt to raise awareness and convene a civic conversation about the problem. More than anything, we hope this initiative will cause our viewers to take personal action in their own families and communities to encourage high school graduation and an education beyond.”

The initiative kicks off Monday night as Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard joins host Phil Ponce on Chicago Tonight to talk about the problem locally and the schools’ strategy to deal with it.

Over the next year, WTTW will air Public Service Announcements drawing attention to the dropout issue, including some produced by Free Spirit Media, a nonprofit youth organization teaching media to high school students in a number of Chicago communities.

The following PSA features a diverse group of students talking about what subjects inspire them to stay in school. It was created as part of the WTTW, PBS NewsHour, and Corporation for Public Broadcasting initiative titled "American Graduate: Let's Make it Happen."

The following PSA illustrates the turning point for one young man choosing between returning to school or engaging in a world of negative behaviors.

For more information on the "American Graduate" program and Chicago's dropout rate, please visit the links below.