Opinion

Insights from thought leaders working to improve the lives of America’s Youth

Mary Jo Marion

Mary Jo Marion

Executive Director of the LEI at Worcester State University
This article is part of the “What’s Working” series, which highlights promising practices for helping to close the graduation gap in communities and states across the country. To read other stories in the “What’s Working” series, check out Suspensions Don’t Work, So What Does? and Colorado Saved Millions by Investing in Counselors. Here’s Their Advice to Other States.
J. Gabriel Ware Profile

J. Gabriel Ware

Graduate Student Western Michigan University
“You should think about becoming a high school teacher. That’s what a Western Michigan University professor said to me—his graduate teaching assistant—after a group of students who failed the first exam handed in their second exam of the semester.
President & CEO, America's Promise Alliance
President & CEO America's Promise Alliance
While the recent campaign and election moved fear to the forefront in a great many households, the uncomfortable truth is that for far too many young people in America fear for personal safety is an everyday occurrence.
Rosio Villalpando

Rosio Villalpando

Student, Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo
Throughout my life, I have questioned why school seemed so difficult for me. Where did I go wrong? Where did my parents fail? Did those eight years living in Mexico set me back, or was it the lack of attention I received from my teachers who knew I was only a Spanish speaker?
Daniel Martinson

Daniel Martinson

AmeriCorps VISTA member GradMinnesota Initiative
As a GradMinnesota VISTA with the GradMinnesota Initiative under the Minnesota Alliance With Youth, my role sounds simple: support community initiatives dedicated to raising high school graduation rates and preparing young people for success in postsecondary opportunity, work, civic engagement, and life.
Melinda Hudson

Melinda Hudson

Sr. Advisor to Chair and CEO, America's Promise Alliance
When I walked into the government classroom at Thurgood Marshall Academy before last week’s election, I immediately noticed the teacher’s T-shirt: “Democracy is a verb.” I was there as an adult guest judge for the seniors competing in the Mikva Challenge, in which students give two-minute “soapbox speeches” about issues they care about.
Daquon Wilson

Daquon Wilson

Senior, Richland One Middle College
If you want to help students do anything they dream of, then become their advocate. Become their mentor. Become their support system. Become the need they require. It may be hard, but isn’t it worth it to save a child and mend their wounds?
Angela Cammack

Angela Cammack

Sr. Policy Advisor, College Promise Campaign
Within the next four years, more than 60% of jobs will require some post-secondary education. The problem: We’re not ready. Only 40% of U.S. adults have a post-secondary degree, and for many Americans, especially students from low-income households, college is increasingly unaffordable.
Kate Sandel Senior Policy Analyst,Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Kate Sandel

Sr. Policy Analyst, MA Dept of Elem and Secondary Ed
While the dropout rate in Massachusetts has declined in recent years, reaching 1.9 percent in 2015, huge gaps remain. Last year, students whose first language is not English (FLNE) made up 18 percent of students enrolled in grades 9-12 but over 30 percent of the students who didn’t graduate on time. We have our work cut out for us.
Beth McCullough

Beth McCullough

Homeless Education Liaison Adrian Public Schools
“Are you excited about starting school?  It is your senior year, after all,” I said in my best “Rah, Rah, let’s go team!” voice.  She shrugged, “Not really. I don’t like being the new girl. Kids don’t talk to you—but they talk about you.” She went to many schools before entering our doors.
Caitlin Cheney

Caitlin Cheney

2012 Scholar, NAEHCY
As a homeless student, icebreakers were always tough for me. If my classmates asked about my family or tried to organize sleepovers, I couldn’t tell them that me and my younger sister didn’t have a place to live. I was afraid that if they knew, they would take her away from me.
President & CEO, America's Promise Alliance
President & CEO America's Promise Alliance
I don’t have teenage kids any more, but I do have a special interest in the nearly 4 million kids who are just starting high school right now. Back in 2010, the GradNation campaign set a goal of 90 percent high school graduation by 2020, and we’ve made great progress since then, reaching an all-time high graduation rate of 82.3 percent.