April 25, 2012
For Immediate Release
AMERICAN GRADUATE: THE TENNESSEE STORY
Thursday, May 10 at 7:30 p.m. on WKNO/Channel 10
WKNO-TV/Channel 10 will premiere a new documentary, American Graduate: The Tennessee Story, on Thursday, May 10 at 7:30 p.m. Hosted by Tennessee’s First Lady Crissy Haslam, the half-hour documentary was produced collaboratively by three of Tennessee’s public television stations and will air statewide.
A local companion to a national public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), American Graduate: The Tennessee Story features three different stories of impact from across the state. The local broadcast is sponsored by Lane College in Jackson.
The high school dropout rate is a significant problem in the U.S. and in Tennessee. In 2010, more than 28,000 students dropped out of high school in our state. Only 21% of Tennesseans have a college degree, as compared to 30% nationally.
High school dropouts cost the country more than $300 billion a year in lost wages, taxes and productivity, which can lead to a rise in crime, homelessness and substance abuse. This lost potential will have huge impact on our economy, healthcare costs, workforce and global competitiveness for decades to come.
In our first story, WCTE/PBS introduces us to Cynthia Fitzgerald. Born and raised in a Nashville housing project, Cynthia was encouraged by a high school counselor to graduate from high school and pursue a college education. Today Cynthia is an accomplished attorney and along with her husband, Coach Maurice Fitzgerald, spends almost every Saturday with hundreds of inner youth and their parents preparing for college in a program they’ve developed called “In Full Motion.”
Our second story takes us into East Tennessee, where the Loudon County United Way funded a program to provide a graduation coach to high-risk students. East Tennessee PBS captures the story of graduation coach Sandra Towns, and how she is providing students with a new level of support and in-school advocacy.
WKNO/PBS in Memphis focuses on the story of a college freshman, Christopher Dean. What Chris and other students at Booker T. Washington High School had to overcome in order to graduate got the attention of a lot of people, including the President of the United States.
“These stories belong to all of us,” says First Lady Crissy Haslam. “It may not be your child but it is someone’s child – and our state is at risk.”
About American Graduate
The public media initiative, American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, is helping communities across America identify and implement solutions to address the high school dropout crisis. Supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the multi-year campaign is designed to raise awareness and dialogue through national and local multiplatform programming. Targeting communities with highest dropout rates, the initiative also increases local engagement and action through collaborations and partnerships, and increases student engagement through teacher professional development and classroom curricula. Public radio and television stations – locally owned and operated – reach 99% of the country over the air, have built models for successful intervention in early learning, and have deep connections in the communities they serve. Nearly 300 partnerships have been formed locally through American Graduate and CPB is partnering with America’s Promise Alliance and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. More information at AmericanGraduate.org.