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


    6:00 am
    Wed February 5, 2014

    How NC Funding Of Schools Differs From Most States

    North Carolina's public schools receive 58% of their funding from the state government.
    Credit 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.

    Read more
    4:15 pm
    Mon February 3, 2014

    Black Child In A Mostly White School: Story Spans 13 Years

    Idris Brewster and Seun Summers
    Credit 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.

    Read more
    10:19 pm
    Fri January 31, 2014

    Private School Vouchers Become Available, Despite Lawsuits

    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.
    Credit 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.  

    Read more
    6:22 pm
    Wed January 29, 2014

    NC Teacher Of The Year Attends State Of Union, Has Unexpected Highlight

    NC Teacher of the Year Karyn Dickerson, being interviewed at the State of the Union, with Senator Kay Hagan (right).
    Credit via Twitter

    Karyn Dickerson had a night most teachers dream of. She'd been invited to the State of the Union address in Washington.

    Dickerson had a dinner with the senators, had a great view of President Obama. He even led off the night talking about teachers:

    Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans:

    Today in America, a teacher spent extra time with a student who needed it, and did her part to lift America's graduation rate to its highest level in more than three decades....

    But the highlight of the night?

    Read more
    7:54 am
    Tue January 28, 2014

    Report: 65 Percent Of NC Kids Enter Fourth Grade Below Reading Grade Level

    A new report shows that 65% of North Carolina students entering the fourth grade are not proficient readers
    Credit Reema Khrais

    Sixty-five percent of students in North Carolina are not reading at grade level by the time they reach fourth grade, according to the latest KIDS COUNT data snapshot.

    The data report shows large disparities between lower and higher-income households. Lower-income students tend to struggle more, as 78 percent are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade, compared to the 48 percent of students from higher-income families. 

    Read more
    Business & Economy
    7:53 am
    Tue January 28, 2014

    Durham NC's Hillside High School First To Open A Bank

    Hillside High School students Mikel Carr, Jamal Stroud and Radamany Kirk are tellers at the Woodforest National Bank branch at their school.
    Credit Leoneda Inge

    Financial literacy is a growing part of the K-through-12 curriculum across the state.  But Hillside High School in Durham has taken the charge to the next level and opened a functioning bank branch at the school.

    Organizers say that students, staff, and families will be able to open accounts, as well as deposit funds to checking and savings accounts right at the Hillside branch.  The program also provides internships and serves as a hands-on learning center for students to gain banking skills.

    Read more
    10:57 pm
    Thu January 23, 2014

    Wake County Schools Accused Of ‘Racist,’ ‘Unfair’ Policing Practices in Complaint

    The state's NAACP along with other civil rights groups held a press conference Thursday afternoon outside East Wake High School.
    Credit Reema Khrais

    A group of parents, students and civil rights organizations filed a federal lawsuit against the Wake County School system and local police departments, alleging that the school system’s policing practices “violate the constitutional rights of students.”

    The complaint claims that the police officers who work in Wake County schools unlawfully punish students and criminalize exceedingly minor misbehaviors such as “throwing water balloons, stealing paper from a recycling bin and play-fighting with a friend.” 

    Read more
    6:52 pm
    Wed January 22, 2014

    'Building A Mini-Silicon Valley': Ex-Gov. Perdue Launches Digital Learning Initiative

    Former Governor Bev Perdue will lead a digital education nonprofit to focus on increasing personal learning options for students.
    Credit NC Governor's Office

    A year after leaving office, former Governor Bev Perdue is returning to the public stage with the launch of a new project focused on digital learning. 

    In partnership with Wyoming Gov. Jim Geringer, Perdue founded the Digital Learning Institute, dubbed DigiLEARN. She says the idea is to bring together teachers, policymakers, entrepreneurs and students to develop the most effective digital learning tools.

    Read more
    The State of Things
    11:38 am
    Wed January 22, 2014

    Program Highlights The Need For Early Childhood Literacy

    The State of Things discusses the importance of early childhood literacy.
    Credit Adwriter via flickr.

    Most people know it's a good idea to read to their children. 

    But a program called Reach Out and Read highlights just how early parents should start the practice. Reach Out and Read gets doctors to write reading prescriptions for families in the hopes of helping them jump start their children's chances for literacy.

    Read more
    5:00 am
    Tue January 21, 2014

    Will PACE Academy Make The Grade? Charter Serving Special Needs Kids Could Shut Down

    Teacher Caleb Smith is the lead Exceptional Childrens teacher and organizes the Occupational Course of Study instructional programming.
    Reema Khrais

    When founders Jane Miller and Rhonda Franklin got the news that their charter school may not be around next year, they were overcome with the same feeling.

    “Just utter shock,” says Franklin:

    We were shocked because we know what has happened within these walls in the last 10 years. We know the growth of our students.

    The state’s Charter School Advisory Board unanimously recommended to the State Board of Education that it reject PACE Academy's application for a renewal of its 10-year charter.

    Read more