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Stemming the Dropout Crisis

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Date posted: June 24, 2011

I recently came across two things that got me thinking about America’s strikingly high dropout rate and what the media and telecommunications industry has done to encourage kids to either drop out or stay in school.

The first instance was some information that came my way about a Get Schooled event in Chicago. The second was an article1 for a communications law journal about telecommunications technology, digital literacy, and America’s high dropout rate written by Michael Powell, the President and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA). Together, they led directly to a presentation I did in The Park at The Cable Show. (See below for the presentation.)

Dropout statistics are alarming, both in the number of students leaving school before they graduate as well as the social and economic consequences of dropping out, which affect not only the individuals but also our economy and society. It’s easy to bash media for not providing enough positive models of popular and academically successful students, or for sometimes glamorizing the “bad boys.” But media companies can also use their resources to encourage kids to persevere and get a good education.

Minaj_CallowayI first saw some information about a Get Schooled event in Chicago where recording artist Nicki Minaj joined MTV VJ Sway Calloway and others at a ceremony awarding $10,000 scholarships to three Collins Academy students.

Get Schooled “delivers the critical messages about the importance of graduating from high school and going on to college using the media and messengers that matter.” Both Comcast and Viacom are big partners in the Get Schooled Foundation and “bring the creative talent, media assets and resources of the country’s top media and consumer brands to inspire youth with engaging content, tools, challenges and relevant incentives.”

Here, Comcast handed out scholarships and Viacom provided the talent. So, how cool is it to have superstar singers, actors, and athletes come to your school to salute students and talk about the importance of education to their lives and careers? How great is it to be applauded for academic achievement and get a scholarship for college?

Michael Powell’s article, on the other hand, explored how digital literacy and communications technology could play a role in stemming America’s dropout rate. Dropout prevention has long been a passion of Mr. Powell, and he continues to co-chair Grad Nation, an initiative of America’s Promise Alliance. In this piece, he looks at how media and technology can provide the engagement, relevance, and real-world connections students need, and the lack of which is cited as among the top reasons for dropping out.

For any issue, companies can be part of the problem or part of the solution. We’re proud that so many cable companies and networks have chosen to get involved in ending the dropout crisis. Find out more about it in Classroom 2.0: Cable Educates Digital Citizens.

Disclosure: Cable in the Classroom is the education foundation of NCTA.

1 Powell, Michael K. (2011) Digital literacy and American competitiveness: How communications technology can stem America’s high school dropout rate. CommLaw Conspectus: Journal of Communications Law and Policy, 19 (2), pp. 291-296.