Daylong PBS Show Focuses on the Dropout Crisis

By Mark Walsh — September 26, 2014 1 min read
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There will be something on many PBS stations for seven hours on Saturday that may look like a one of those public television fundraisers. But there’s no need to pick up the phone.

American Graduate Day 2014” is a hodgepodge of entertainment, live interviews, and short filmed segments about ways to help local communities raise high school graduation rates.

“When Americans decide they want to tackle a problem, the needle moves,” says Patricia Harrison, the president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Washington-based entity that distributes federal funds to public radio and television stations. “This is going to be an inspiring and entertaining day.”

Now, the celebrity names. Moderators will include Wes Moore of PBS, Rehema Ellis of NBC News, and Rebecca Jarvis of ABC News. Celebrity interviews will include the singer Tony Bennett and his wife, Susan Bennedetto, who will discuss their Exploring the Arts initiative; Colin and Alma Powell, talking about their America’s Promise Alliance; former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; and many others.

The show is produced by flagship public television station WNET in New York City. A promoter based in that city was convinced that we would be excited by the participation of C.C. Sabathia of the New York Yankees. But, no, not everyone is a Yankees fan.

There will be participation by many worthy groups such as Autism Speaks, Best Buddies, Big Brothers Big Sisters, My Brother’s Keeper, Reading Is Fundamental. Special Olympics, and the VH1 Save the Music Foundation, to name just a few.

There will be local cut-ins, and viewers will be encouraged to participate through Twitter and Facebook.

This is the third annual edition of “American Graduate Day.” I didn’t see the first two, so I don’t know whether it is compelling television.

But the goals are admirable, and you won’t be bugged to call in and contribute in exchange for a tote bag.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Education and the Media blog.