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Newswire: May 29, 2012

Vol. 14, No. 22

POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE. It’s graduation time again, a time of joy and celebration of four years of hard work, diligence and perseverance for many. Your CER Newswire looks at some shining lights, as well as the stark reality faced by all too many who won’t graduate in four years this year.

AGAINST ALL ODDS. There’s no question that poverty and graduation are inversely related. A study by the University of Cincinnati makes this abundantly clear as does the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Yet, scores of schools, nestled in the heart of desperately poor neighborhoods, have beat the odds. How? By focusing on the student first and foremost and doing all it takes to keep kids in school while getting them up to speed to graduate prepared for college or the world of work. So signal the Pomp and Circumstance graduation march for this small sampling of charters, Catholic schools and online programs with high-flying graduation rates:

ON CHARTER SCHOOLS. Washington D.C. charter schools are celebrating their successes this year, notably the fact that they graduate more than 20% over the 58% rate of traditional district schools.

In Washington, D.C., hats off to SEED PCS of Washington D.C. for it has a 90% graduation rate and to Friendship Collegiate Charter at 85.8%. (Friendship graduates 22% of all DC students, and nearly half of all kids from Wards 7 & 8, the worst area historically for education in the nation’s capitol.)

In Arizona, a wave to BASIS Tucson at 100%. In New York a shake to KIPP NY at 93% (over the last nine years).

In Pennsylvania we salute Philadelphia’s Boy’s Latin and Mastery for surpassing even selective high schools in the city and graduating 75% of its kids on time, with more than 90% going to college. And in Texas, YES Prep does it again at 90%.

GRADUATING FROM ONLINE. Whether the model is blended or totally online, well over 200,000 students are on a path to graduate from work done via digital technologies.

Connections Academy is one example of an education entity doing its part for the graduation rate. It’s graduates boast numerous four-year colleges acceptances, including Harvard, Cornell and Carnegie Mellon University.

ON CATHOLIC SCHOOLS. While these schools thrive and do justice to the poorest among us, their schools from Boston to Baltimore are faced with closure. So a reminder of what they do in Pomp and Circumstance is in order.

In Memphis, celebration is the name of the game among the first graduating class of the Jubilee schools, which were reopened thanks to the anonymous contribution of a wealthy citizen. “The spirit of the Jubilee Schools has affected all of the diocese’s Memphis high schools, where graduation rates are 99%. Preliminary results from University of Memphis researchers indicate that Jubilee school students feel more supported by teachers and classmates and believe going to college is more important.” Let’s hear an Amen.

In Los Angeles, of Catholic Education Fund-supported Catholic school students, whose backgrounds are varied and SES factors low, more than 98% graduate and will go to college.

In Oklahoma City, a bitter sweet graduation at Villa Teresa School, the last year the school will be open as funds are no longer available.

LET’S GRADUATE THEM ALL. It makes little sense, given their success rate with all students, that Catholic schools nationwide face closings due to lack of funds. Cities like Philadelphia also have seen far too many successful Catholic schools close…demonstrating yet one more reason to support full school choice. Join your friends from Philadelphia’s choice community, as they Rally at City Hall this Wednesday, May 30, 2012, at 3:30pm to support the passage of school choice legislation that includes opportunity scholarships. Be there!

WANT MORE INFO ON GRADUATION RATES? Visit the Media Bullpen. On the homepage, you can search for any topic of interest and sign up for your own personal newsfeed by creating a log in at www.mediabullpen.com. And click here to learn how the U.S. Department of Education guides states to calculate the graduation rate today.

And congratulations to all the students — and their families — for your momentous graduation achievements! We all know it’s not easy.