By Annelise Wunderlich
ITVS’s Education Manager
ITVS’s Community Classroom, along with over 150 Bay Area educators, gathered at Laney College for KQED’s town hall meeting about the dropout crisis.
Here are some startling facts:
- Every year, roughly 1.3 million students in the U.S. drop out of high school. That’s 7,000 students each day.
- More than 20 percent of California high school students drop out of school before graduation*
- In the City of Oakland, almost 40 percent of students don’t graduate*
ITVS Community Classroom attended the March 13th event at Laney College, sitting in an auditorium filled with passionate teachers, present to talk about the growing dropout crisis in American education. It is hard to grab headlines with this story in a news environment already saturated with reports about the sad state of the public education system in this country. But with their American Graduate initiative, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, in partnership with America’s Promise Alliance and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is keeping the conversation alive. KQED is one of 20 “hub” public media radio and television stations across the country that CPB tapped to host public forums about the crisis.
Over 150 committed educators came out on the rainy Tuesday evening, ready to listen to a group of experts dissect the problem and share their own ideas about how to tackle it. Opinions about the root causes for why so many young people – especially young people of color – drop out of school before graduation varied. But everyone agreed that too many young people are being left behind and lack the skills and mentorship necessary to thrive as young adults.
One complaint that came up repeatedly was that school curriculum is rarely relevant or engaging for most students. Judging by the response of the teachers that swarmed around the Community Classroom table after the event, there is a hunger for meaningful content that uses the power of storytelling to connect students to vital issues in society. Teachers poured over the resources that ITVS has adapted from more than 20 award-winning documentaries, such as Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, Sentenced Home, Waste Land, and many more. They were thrilled to learn that our standards-aligned lesson plans and short film modules are FREE online at www.itvs.org/educators. At a time when school budgets are being stripped bare and teachers are burdened with more responsibilities and less support than ever, these resources and events, like the one hosted by KQED, provide some much needed inspiration.
KQED will host a youth media festival in October which will be centered around the American Graduate initiative. More information will soon be available on KQED.org/education and @KQEDedspace.