Thursday, March 29, 2012 | 2 a.m.
“PBS NewsHour” correspondent Ray Suarez visited Chaparral High School on Wednesday as part of a national public education initiative — American Graduate — that aims to address the dropout crisis at 20 major school districts across the country.
Funded in large part by a $14 million grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and smaller grants from the Gates Foundation, the American Graduate initiative spotlights at-risk and “turnaround” schools, including Chaparral High School and Desert Pines High School in Las Vegas. Vegas PBS received a $210,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to play host to several educational events and TV programming in the coming weeks.
“We tried to focus on markets where the (dropout) crisis was acute,” said Stephanie Aaronson, vice president of the American Graduate Initiative.
A recent report conducted by an alliance of researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the Promise Alliance found that Nevada’s average graduation rate — currently 56 percent — dropped more than 15 percentage points between 2002 and 2009.
About 100 local teachers gathered Wednesday evening at an American Graduate Town Hall event to discuss the dropout crisis and offer solutions. The hour-long program — hosted by Suarez — airs at 8 p.m. Thursday on Channel 10. The program also will be rebroadcast on Cox Cable 110 at 11 a.m. and at 4 p.m. Friday and various times throughout the weekend on Cox Cable 111.
“Teachers are on the front line of this issue, and oftentimes their voice isn’t heard,” said Michael Fragale, vice president of education programming and services at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “This (town hall) gives them a voice and a platform to share ideas.”