Deadline Now: Education and Graduation Initiatives in Toledo Part 2
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Deadline Now: Education and Graduation Initiatives in Toledo Part 2

Friday, December 16, 2011

In the second edition of "Deadline Now" examining efforts to boost high school graduation rates in the greater Toledo area, Bill Kitson, President and CEO of United Way of Greater Toledo, Dr. Romules Durant, Assistant Superintendent for Toledo Public Schools (TPS) and James Gault, Chief Academic Officer for TPS, join host Jack Lessenberry.

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About this program: Toledo Public Schools, United Way of Greater Toledo and WGTE are currently deploying initiatives aimed at increasing community involvement and educational stewardship.  The launch of the "Schools as Hubs" initiative is an effort to battle the drop out crisis by organizing community resources around student success, with an integrated focus on academics and services to lead to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities.  

WGTE wants to hear from you, our community, to encourage discussion and bring awareness to this effort.  As you watch this episode of "Deadline Now," please take a moment to share your reflections on the following questions:

What actions can community members take to identify, and implement, solutions which address the high school drop out crisis?
What can community members do to ensure the Schools as Hubs initiative is successful?

Here are Jack Lessenberry's Final Thoughts for this edition of "Deadline Now:"

My guess is that if you, your spouse or especially one of your children were diagnosed with some form of early stage cancer, you wouldn’t say, ‘well, we’ll have to see if we can afford to treat it. We’ve got other things we want to spend money on, you know.”

No, my guess is that you’d somehow find the way to get your child the treatment he or she needed, by any means necessary. Well, we have a cancer growing in our society. It is the tens or hundreds of thousands of young people who leave high school, whether they have a degree or not, without the skills they need in today‘s world.

Those skills should include the ability to next get some form of higher education. Not necessarily a conventional four-year college, but some form of advanced training as an electrician, say, or a welder or an assistant in a doctor‘s office or a technician in a hospital. 

Ideally, every student should come out of school ready to embark on the next stage of their pre-professional life. But sadly, that is all too often not the case. Too many students don‘t have a clue about what to do, the skills to take them to the next level, or somebody to mentor and help them get there.
For too many, money is also a problem. Most of us know these facts, even it isn‘t comfortable to think about them. But what we may not realize is this: No matter how comfortable we may be personally, how secure can any of us be when we have a vast and growing underclass in this society?
How healthy can our society be when it contains thousands who have no legitimate hope of sharing in the American dream?
For me, that is potentially more scary than terrorism.
The Toledo Public Schools and the United Way are trying to do something about this. With help from Microsoft’s Bill Gates, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the America’s Promise Alliance, they are participating in an initiative called American Graduate – Let's Make it Happen -- to try to do something about conquering the dropout crisis in this country.

Locally, they have an experimental initiative designed to turn public schools into community hubs -- or, in other words, neighborhood centers.
There are skeptics. But in other states, this has led to improved grades, healthier families and, eventually, stronger communities.

And that‘s something better than anything money can buy.