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:

    Credit CPB
      Project Funders:

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

    More education stories from WUNC


    The State of Things
    12:16 pm
    Fri February 28, 2014

    State Legislators Propose Merit Pay For Teachers

    Teachers protest
    Credit Dave DeWitt

    WUNC education reporter Reema Khrais discusses State Legislators proposed merit pay models for teachers

    A task force created by the legislature last year met earlier this week to discuss incentives for good teaching. Some Republican leaders favor a merit pay system that would reward a limited number of teachers based on their individual performances. But many educators believe this would discourage collaboration within their schools. 

    Read more
    11:00 am
    Wed February 26, 2014

    Leaving Teaching: Two NC Educators, Married, Talk About Why They Quit

    Deana and Mark Kahlenberg
    Credit Still shot from video / Emerging Issues Forum

    Deana and Mark Kahlenberg teach at the same school: Alderman Road Elementary in Cumberland County. They met there. They both enjoyed teaching for many years - Deana for seven and Mark for eight. And now they are both leaving the school, and leaving the profession. They are in grad school to become speech and language pathologists.

    Why did they choose to leave?

    Mark: Mostly pay reasons

    Read more
    8:15 am
    Wed February 26, 2014

    '16 Years To Reach $40,000 Salary': Considering Pay Incentives For NC Teachers

    Teachers protest
    Credit Dave DeWitt

    State lawmakers and education leaders are considering paying North Carolina teachers based on their individual performance, despite  concerns from stakeholders who argue it could harmfully affect students and teacher morale.

    Republican Senator Jerry Tillman, an education budget writer, is helping lead a newly-formed legislative task force that will develop recommendations for alternative pay plans. Members, whom include legislators and education leaders across the state, must factor in teacher evaluation measures and student performance outcomes.  

    Read more
    5:42 pm
    Fri February 21, 2014

    Judge Suspends NC Private School Vouchers

    Judge Robert Hobgood granted opponents’ plea to freeze a law that uses public funds to send low-income students to private schools.
    Credit Reema Khrais

    A North Carolina judge is blocking a new law that uses taxpayer dollars to send low-income students to private or religious schools. 

    Responding to opponents’ request to stop the voucher program, the judge ruled Friday that the yearly grants of up to $4200 violate the state constitution.

    “The court finds that to maintain the status quo, that the state school fund must be used exclusively for establishing and maintaining a system of public schools, of course, in concert with the North Carolina Constitution,” said Judge Robert Hobgood.

    Read more
    8:36 am
    Fri February 21, 2014

    N.C. Leaders, Educators Evaluate Common Core Rollout

    North Carolina legislators are still struggling with Common Core standards in schools.
    Credit Photo by biologycorner. - / MacArthur Foundation

    North Carolina lawmakers continue to scrutinize the implementation of Common Core Standards, as they collect suggestions from leaders and educators to improve, amend or even replace them.

    The state adopted the standards in 2010, though they were first implemented last school year. They are supposed to set a clear, consistent blueprint for what students across should learn from kindergarten through high school.

    Implemented in 45 states, Common Core creates goals and rigorous tests that are intended to look the same across the country.  

    Read more
    6:54 pm
    Tue February 18, 2014

    Groups Say NC Schools Deny Enrollment To Immigrant Kids

    Credit David Benbennick via wikimedia commons

    North Carolina civil rights groups are urging the U.S. Justice Department to launch a federal investigation into two North Carolina school districts that allegedly discriminated against immigrant youth.

    The complaint says that Buncombe and Union county schools unlawfully complicated and denied enrollment  to two 17-year-olds, which coalition attorneys say represents a much larger problem in the state.

    Read more
    11:42 am
    Tue February 18, 2014

    Snow Days Impact Low-Income Families Even After Storm Is Over

    Urban Ministries of Durham's food pantry, which serves community members in need, tends to face extra demand after storms such as last week's.
    Credit 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.

    Read more
    Re-Mixing The News
    7:25 am
    Mon February 17, 2014

    [VIDEO] Teens Remix The News In Projects In North Carolina And Beyond

    Pierce Freelon (left) and Apple Juice Kid with students from the community
    Credit 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.

    Read more
    7:43 am
    Sat February 15, 2014

    Gov. McCrory Hopes To Give Schools Flexibility With Make Up Days

    Governor Pat McCrory says he'll work with education leaders to help give schools more flexibility in making up for time lost due to the winter storm.
    Credit 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. 

    Read more
    5:34 pm
    Tue February 11, 2014

    Pay Cuts, End Of Tenure Put North Carolina Teachers On Edge

    Elementary school students in North Carolina stand outside their school in November, during an event organized by teachers to protest changes in public education.
    Dave DeWitt WUNC

    Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 8:00 pm

    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.

    Read more