Mayor Dean Announces Program To Double College Grads - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Mayor Dean Announces Program To Double College Grads

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by Aundrea Cline-Thomas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Nashville Mayor Karl Dean announced a program that helps fulfill his promise of doubling the amount of Metro-Nashville Public School students who graduate from college.

"This is fundamentally the most important thing to me and the most important thing to the city," Dean asserted. "We've got to get this right and if we get it right I think our city is so ideally positioned to do well."

In front of the Downtown Rotary, he asked them to support the SCHoLAR's Academy which stands for Students Choosing Higher Learning and Achieving Success.

"If educators say we're the one who needs this, it comes across somewhat self serving," Richard Rhoda, Executive Director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission said about Mayor Dean's decision to announce the program to business leaders instead of educators. "It's really has to be seen as education as the means to greater ends like the economy, like business."

"We have to do the work to make sure we have the necessary educated public to succeed economically and also to put our kids in the position where they could have good lives," Dean added.

Beginning in the summer of 2012, it will be a six to eight week intensive program aimed at improving ACT scores and reducing the number of students who have to take remedial courses in college.

"There are too many students coming from high school, graduating from high school, who need that help," said Rhoda.

The program would continue to offer support during the school year by organizing college visits, helping students apply for college and financial aid.

It's all a part of a pledge Dean made during his second inaugural address.  He said Nashville should double its number of college graduates within the next five years. Currently, about 43 percent of students in Tennessee's public college and universities earn a degree within six years.

"It's doable. It's not going to happen by just saying it's a great idea. It's going to take some focused initiatives like the academy and perhaps others," Rhoda said confidently.

The Mayor has also asked legislators to allocate more lottery funds towards paying for classes that give students college credit while in high school. Right now lottery money only pays a portion of the cost for dual enrollment courses. Deans says, eliminating the financial barrier would encourage more students would enroll, therefore making them more likely to enroll and graduate from college.

For now Dean has not elaborated on the potential costs of these initiatives. He's only saying that he plans to pledge the necessary resources to make them a reality. He asked the crowd, mainly of business leaders,  to do the same.

There are already other initiatives underway at Metro Nashville schools with the same goal. Together, Dean said they can make a difference.

email: acline-thomas@newschannel5.com 

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