Can Celebrities Help High School Dropouts?

A Dream School that pairs celebrities with high school dropouts. Can wrong turns be avoided?

Here is an alarming statistic: 82% of prisoners in America are high school dropouts. Now, just imagine Suze Orman, Swizz Beatz, David Arquette, and Soledad O’Brien teaching some of those students—before they got to prison. Could this make a difference?

Jamie Oliver and 50 Cent think it can, and they are making this happen through their new series, Dream School, on the Sundance Channel.

With a growing consciousness about the health risks and costs of high school truancy, Jamie Oliver and 50 Cent have partnered to pair some of our favorite celebrities with high school dropouts. They have focused on a diverse crowd of at-risk youth, including pregnant teens and bullies (as well as those being bullied) in an attempt to address the dismal stats seen in this report by the California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

If it isn’t immediately obvious how truancy affects the health and well-being of us all, think about this: in California, a 10 percent increase in graduation rates would reduce murder and assault rates by 20 percent. 

It's calculated that in California alone, $1.4 billion is lost each year due to student absences. That means $1,000 is lost for every student who is enrolled, so the students who actually go to class are being affected by the dropouts/truant, too.

Although the state of our country is usually expressed through indicators like the GDP, the stock market, and the national debt, these metrics are only telling us how the economy is doing, not how people are doing. In order to get a more complete picture of our nation’s total progress, it is important to know the availability of someone’s access to opportunity and knowledge. 

It will be interesting to see what takeaways might come from the Dream School experiment to get us closer to increasing school attendance, while decreasing how many young adults are placed behind bars.

Episodes of the show air on Mondays at 10 p.m. on the Sundance Channel. Watch the trailer, and let us know what you think of the show.


Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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The Planet

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.

via Found Animals Foundation / Flickr

Service dogs are true blessings that provide a wide array of services for their owners based on their disability.

They can provide preventative alerts for people with epilepsy and dysautonomia. They can do small household tasks like turning lights on and off or providing stability for their owners while standing or walking.

For those with PTSD they can provide emotional support to help them in triggering situations.

However, there are many people out there who fraudulently claim their pets are service or emotional support animals. These trained animals can cause disturbances in businesses or on public transportation.

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