As part of WTTW’s commitment to raising awareness about the skyrocketing high school dropout rate, WTTW’s nightly news and public affairs program “Chicago Tonight,” devoted an hour-long broadcast and an additional 30-minute web extra to the subject of Chicago's dropout crisis. This program, originally broadcast live before a studio audience, explores the issues that have led to low graduation rates and truancy, as well as the programs struggling to encourage social and educational success through high school graduation and secondary education. “Chicago Tonight” host, Phil Ponce, spoke with youth, education professionals, and research experts to explore who is affected, what they have experienced, how they are trying to improve graduation rates at their schools, and what the statistics mean to our community and those most affected.
WTTW is working with Free Spirit Media (FSM), a local youth media organization, to create eight short videos about the dropout crisis aimed at youth and adult audiences to be distributed on social media , through the website, and on WTTW. The station recently held an event, "Graduating to the Big Screen," that included all student-created American Graduate content and other programs created for parents and community members. A panel discussion with students about what it takes to succeed followed the screening
WTTW also partnered with the Neighborhood Writing Alliance, a local non-profit organization that conducts writing workshops at public libraries and community centers throughout Chicago’s low-income neighborhoods, to give students the opportunity to share their thoughts about graduation in a written composition. Several submissions were recorded to video and posted on the YOUR STORIES section of WTTW’s website.
WTTW promoted the release of Alternative Schools Network’s (ASN) 2011 report: High School Dropouts in Chicago and Illinois: The Growing Labor Market, Income, Civic, Social and Fiscal Costs of Dropping Out of High School. Chicago Tonight journalist Elizabeth Bracket moderated a panel of education professionals before an audience of more than 300 education leaders, students, policy makers and support organizations at the Union League in Chicago, as they discussed the findings and how they applied to their educational plans at their schools. Chicago Tonight also featured a special on the findings of the report. The program and report are available here.
Illinois public media stations participated in a nation-wide 'virtual teacher town hall' project. Teachers were asked a series of questions about things that are most important to them--from challenges to "A-ha! moments," from lessons learned to job satisfaction, from curriculum to parent engagement. The topics tackled in this project showcase a wide range of voices and provide teachers with a chance to interact and share with one another, all while adding to the conversation on America's schools. Hear more Teacher Voices.