American Graduate Series

WUNC's American Graduate Project is part of a nationwide public media conversation about the dropout crisis. We'll explore the issue through news reports, call-in programs and a forum produced with UNC-TV. Also as a part of this project we've partnered with the Durham Nativity School and YO: Durham to found the WUNC Youth Radio Club. 

These reports are part of American Graduate-Let’s Make it Happen!- a public media initiative to address the drop out crisis, supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and these generous funders:

      Project Funders:

    • GlaxoSmithKline
    • The Goodnight Educational Foundation
    • Joseph M. Bryan Foundation 
    • State Farm
    • The Grable Foundation
    • Farrington Foundation

    More education stories from WUNC

    Urban Ministries of Durham's food pantry, which serves community members in need, tends to face extra demand after storms or bad weather.
    Reema Khrais / WUNC

    Thousands of North Carolina students are back in school after last week’s winter storm. But for many, the effects of the snow aren’t quite over. For low-income families, three to four days off of school can disrupt a tight budget, especially when their children rely on free or reduced lunches. 

    Joyce Beavers, 32, takes care of four children who are all under the age of twelve. When she’s not at home, she works as a nurse’s aid making $7.25 an hour. She says she brings in less than $15-thousand dollars a year, and her husband is unemployed.

    Pierce Freelon (left) and Apple Juice Kid with students from the community
    Beat Making Lab

    In an after-school project called "Re-Mixing the News" a group of middle and high school students from Chapel Hill and Carrboro, NC, take WUNC news reports and add inspiration: beats, sound effects, and music. They create a fresh, new take on traditional journalism in the Beat Making Lab.

    Gov. Pat McCrory
    NC Governor's Office

    In light of the winter storm, Governor Pat McCrory says he will work with education leaders to review laws on make up days for public schools.

    This week's snow storm led to closings that lasted up to three days for many schools across the state, forcing school officials to make tough decisions on how to make up for the lost time. Many schools still need to make up time from last month's snow. 

    Teacher salaries are losing ground fast in North Carolina.

    Jennifer Spivey has been a teacher for three years at South Columbus High School, on the north side of the border between the Carolinas. She's been recognized as an outstanding teacher; she has a master's degree, and last summer she won a prestigious Kenan fellowship to improve education. But she still lives in her parents' basement.

    Classroom
    WUNC File Photo

    2/24/14:

    Fascinating article published over the weekend by the Washington Post entitled "You Think You Know What Teachers Do. Right? Wrong." The author, Sarah Blaine, spent two years teaching English Language Arts at a rural public high school. She left to be a lawyer.

    Here's an excerpt from the middle of the post:

    The State Board of Education voted to not renew PACE Academy's charter for another year after finding issues of noncompliance and accountability. Leaders of the school, however, intend to appeal the decision.
    Reema Khrais

    Citing poor performance and compliance problems, the State Board of Education voted to not renew the charters of two schools in Carrboro and Morehead City.

    The state’s Charter School Advisory Board recommended to the Board of Education in December to terminate the charters held by PACE Academy and Coastal Academy for Technology and Science.

    School districts say current assessments under the Read to Achieve mandate are excessive and take away from teaching time.
    Judy Baxter via Flickr

    Calling the current testing mandate excessive, school districts are asking the State Board of Education if they can implement their own tests to fulfill the state’s new reading law for third-grade students.

    Under the Read to Achieve law, passed last year, third-grade students are required to attend summer reading camps if they are not reading at grade level by the end of the year.

    School bus
    Dave DeWitt

    North Carolina ranks eighth in the nation in the percentage of state funding schools receive, according to officials.

    The state’s public schools receive 58% of their revenues from the state government, compared to nation’s average of 44%. The remaining profits come from local and federal sources, though most states receive about 50-50 from state and local levels.

    Photo: Idris Brewster and Seun Summers
    American Promise film

    Over the course of 13 years, Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson filmed their son's progress through the elite New York City prep school called Dalton. As an African-American family in a predominantly white school, the years were challenging for everyone.

    Their documentary American Promise airs on  UNC-TV Thursday 2/6/14 at 10 p.m.

    A year ago, Dick Gordon talked with Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson when they were in Durham N.C. for the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.

    Parent DeNille Amendola hopes to send her 11-year-old son to a private school next year with help from the state's new voucher program.
    Reema Khrais

    A new program that will help low-income families afford to send their children to private schools has started accepting applications, despite harsh criticisms and legal challenges that have plagued it.

    Critics of the voucher program insist it will tear money away from public schools, while supporters have hailed it as a way to give low-income families school choice.

    Parent DeNille Amendola doesn’t involve herself in the sticky details of the dispute.  All she cares about is how it could finally provide a “better education” for her children.  

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