Matthew McConaughey works to turn around Cleveland’s public school system

Katie Couric
Global Anchor

By Alexandra Zaslow

Cleveland is reinventing public education.

When Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric visited the city as part of her series “Cities Rising: Rebuilding America,” she saw the transformations firsthand.

In 2012, nearly 75 percent of Cleveland schools were failing.

“Five years ago when I became the superintendent, we were in academic emergency in our state’s ratings system,” Eric Gordon, CEO of Cleveland Metropolitan School District, said.

So, they created The Cleveland Plan, which essentially allows families to chose which school they’d like to attend.

Since the plan has been in place, Cleveland public schools’ graduation rate has increased 17 percent and enrollment is growing for the first time in decades.

Matthew McConaughey is also working to improve the city’s school system while filming his new movie “White Boy Rick.”

“You can sense that the place, they’re trying,” McConaughey told Couric. “People are finding a purpose, which seems to be the key to any community making it is having a purpose.”

He and his wife Camila started the Just Keep Living Foundation to empower high school students to lead active lives and make healthy choices. They are implementing their curriculum at John Adams High School.

“Here at high school is my last opportunity to touch kids, to shape kids before they step out into the real world,” Dr. Terence Menefee, principal of John Adams High School, told Couric.

Menefee said last month, the school lost three kids due to gun violence and 13 or 14 students are currently walking around with gun wounds.

“The violence definitely has to stop, but I think that if there are more opportunities for our kids to do, more curriculum set for things they have interest in, things will definitely change,” Menefee said.

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