Spotlight on Education and Politics | PBS NewsHour Weekend Broadcasts from St. Louis

Posted by Dale Fisher on

Hari Sreenivasan

Education will be the focus of PBS NewsHour Weekend on Saturday, September 17, when anchor Hari Sreenivasan broadcasts from the Nine Network of Public Media.

The focus of the Saturday evening show will be on education after a week of special national PBS programming, known as Spotlight Education Week, culminates on American Graduate Day. Sreenivasan will report from St. Louis on the various ways schools and teachers are trying to improve student performance and engagement. 

Hari Sreenivasan, PBS NewsHour Weekend anchor and PBS NewsHour senior correspondent, considers the role of independent, noncommercial media to be critically important. “It’s the public square in the truest sense of the word,” he says. “It’s where you can hear intelligent people disagree…and exchange ideas without fear.” He says that commercial media is in the audience business, which heightens drama and contributes to polarity. “This is not what public media is charged with doing,” he shares. “We still believe an informed electorate is key to democracy.”

The national and local American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen initiative is being led by the Nine Network and is an example of public media’s long-term commitment to education, particularly for young people. The initiative has been helping public media organizations partner with nearly 1,700 community organizations to help keep youth on track to earn a high school diploma and succeed well beyond high school.

The American Graduate initiative has seen many successes in the five years since it began, but a recent, comprehensive evaluation validates the value of public media’s commitment to this kind of work. Community partners have been an integral part of American Graduate by helping participating public media stations ensure that station efforts are aligned with local challenges, solutions, and priorities.

In a recent survey, partners indicated their overwhelming appreciation of public media.

• 100% said they valued public media’s expertise in production, communications and marketing, which helped raise awareness of issues and increased participation in programs.

• 94% said they valued public media’s reach.

• 83% said they valued public media’s resources.

• 77% said the partnership enhanced engagement between their organization and the community.

Also essential is the support from American Graduate Champions. We have learned that one of the most significant contributions to keeping students on the path to graduation is the role that caring, consistent adults play in providing support, encouragement, and the skills students need to stay in school.

On September 10, the Nine Network will recognize 11 local American Graduate Champions for their mentorship and guidance to St. Louis-area students. The recognition event will be held in conjunction with the Nine Network’s Storytime in the Commons, a partnership with St. Louis Public Library (see page 13). The Nine Network is proud to recognize early childhood champions and to elevate the importance of early learning through events like Storytime in the Commons.


American Graduate Champions

Sylvester “Sunshine” LeeSylvester “Sunshine” Lee Sylvester “Sunshine” Lee has mentored youth in East St. Louis, Illinois, for more than 30 years. Lee established the Community Performance Ensemble in 1978 to provide performance arts training focused on African dance and drumming. The ensemble has taught hundreds of young people about African music, dance, and culture. Lee has instilled in them his core principles of pride, respect, love, and dedication. He currently serves 45-50 individuals in an after-school program, has helped many community members get jobs, and 100% of the ensemble participants graduate.

Sarita MoodySarita Moody Sarita Moody has always supported the development of young people. Before joining inspireSTL as community outreach coordinator and scholars coach, Moody worked with children from birth to four years at University City Children’s Center, where she learned firsthand the importance of a quality education in early childhood development. At inspireSTL, she provides academic guidance and mentorship to scholars to ensure they become lifelong leaders in their communities.

Marlon Wharton, and the late Paul Albea, founded Gentlemen of Vision (GOV), a mentoring organization and national champion step team in St. Louis whose members have a 100% high school graduation rate. Many of the young men in GOV see Wharton not only as a coach, but also as a father figure, role model, and support system. He connects the young men to college scholarship opportunities and helps them plan for their futures, while also providing emotional support and encouragement as they struggle to overcome difficult personal circumstances.

As the nation closes in on the goal of increasing the graduation rate to 90% by the year 2020, the continued need for American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen is even clearer. Public media will continue working with community partners and community members to improve youth outcomes. To learn more about American Graduate, visit


The Nine Network Welcomes NewsHour Weekend

Hari SreenivasanHari Sreenivasan As Spotlight Education Week culminates with American Graduate Day on September 17, Hari Sreenivasan and PBS NewsHour Weekend will be at the Nine Network to broadcast from St. Louis. The show will look at the various ways schools and teachers are trying to improve student performance and engagement.

Sreenivasan has been involved with the Nine Network as cohost of American Graduate Day 2015, through his work on the NewsHour special, After Ferguson, and as a host of SciTech Now. In an interview for nineMagazine, Hari talked about some of the issues surrounding education and the upcoming election.

Sreenivasan takes a personal interest in the goals of the American Graduate initiative to improve graduation rates and future outcomes for young people. “The potential of our education system is amazing,” he says. “You have the capacity to get a free education through high school, and even higher education, in this country.” He adds that this capacity is one of the reasons his family immigrated to the United States from Mumbai (then Bombay), India, when he was seven.

Sreenivasan says that initiatives like American Graduate are absolutely necessary and that when students do not graduate, society and the economy suffer. “The statistics on graduation rates are far from where they need to be.” The American Graduate initiative helps students seize their potential by staying in school.

Politics is often personal, particularly in a presidential election year. He says that local issues for parents might be the quality of schools; whereas for retirees it might be social security and Medicare. Sreenivasan says that the concerns of the electorate in the Midwest are not red or blue, he says, but rather purple. The heartland has the same concerns as everyone else, he says, “the economy and the slow recovery, fears of terrorist attacks, and pocketbook issues like how to pay for higher education and health care.”


Upcoming Education Programs

PBS Spotlight Education Week (September 12–17) is a national celebration of educators, students, and others working to improve the state of U.S. education. The Nine Network will air these programs, and others, to underscore the importance of convening a dialogue around education.

PBS NewsHour
PBS NewsHour will broadcast an entire week of original stories in its “Rethinking College” series— a critical look at how higher education is evolving.
Monday–Friday, September 12–16, 6:00–7:00 p.m.

Gentlemen of Vision
The Nine Network documentary depicts the struggles and successes of members of the St. Louis-area Gentlemen of Vision competitive stepping team during the 2015-16 season.
Monday, September 12, 7:00 p.m. (repeats September 15, 10:00 p.m., September 18, 11:00 a.m.)

POV: All the Difference
The film traces the paths of two teens from the South Side of Chicago who dream of graduating from college. Monday, September 12, 10:00 p.m.–midnight

America Reframed: Class of ’27 (on Nine World)
Class of ’27 explores how family, school, and community come together to help preschoolers from distressed communities grow into successful graduates of the class of 2027.
Tuesday, September 13 at 7:00 p.m.

Frontline: A Subprime Education/Omarina’s Story
A fresh look at the troubled for-profit college industry and the implosion of the education chain, Corinthian Colleges; “Omarina’s Story” shows how an innovative program to stem the high school dropout crisis has affected one girl’s journey from a public middle school to an elite New England private school, and on to college. Tuesday, September 13, 8:00–9:00 p.m.

Ted Talks: Education Revolution
An encore presentation of Ted Talks “Education Revolution” focuses how education is changing to adapt to our new digital world.
Tuesday, September 13, 9:00–10:00 p.m.

Works in Progress
This Nine Network documentary weaves together individual stories of five young people in St. Louis with the broader issues of economic and educational disparity.
Tuesday, September 13, 10:00–10:30 p.m.

Nova: School of the Future
School of the Future explores how science and technology are transforming the way we learn and teach.
Wednesday, September 14, 8:00–10:00 p.m.

American Graduate Day
A live, four-hour broadcast and outreach event originating from WNET Studios at Lincoln Center in New York. Journalists, thought leaders, and celebrities will join together to raise awareness of the incredible work being done across the country to keep kids in school.
Saturday, September 17, 1:00–5:00 p.m.

PBS NewsHour Weekend Special Report
A special edition of PBS NewsHour Weekend with Hari Sreenivasan from the Nine Network in St. Louis.
Education: Saturday, September 17, 6:00-6:30

Craft in America: Teachers
Teachers profiles artists committed to passing on their skills and passion for craft to a new generation.
Saturday, September 17, 7:00–8:00 p.m.


Watch and Engage with Live Election Programs

PBS Election 2016 will present the presidential and vice presidential debates and other election-related programs. Check program listings for more PBS Election 2016 programs. (See “New on Nine” for an upcoming election special.)

The presidential debates will air live on Nine PBS while simultaneously broadcast in the Public Media Commons. Watch all four political debates outdoors on two-storyhigh screens. Washington University is the site of the October 9 presidential debate.

First presidential debate: Monday, September 26, live from Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, 8:00 p.m.

Vice presidential debate: Tuesday, October 4, live from Longwood University in Farmville, VA, 8:00 p.m.

Second presidential debate: Sunday, October 9, live from Washington University, St. Louis, 8:00 p.m.

Third presidential debate: Wednesday, October 19, live from University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 8:00 p.m.