The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga



Chattanooga area named Target Partner for PBS college access documentary

Through the efforts of the Center for Community Career Education at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga and the surrounding area has been selected as one of 100 communities in the U.S. as a Target Partner for the PBS documentary, College Track: America's Sorting Machine. The Chattanooga area was chosen on the basis of the community’s discussion of education and the opportunities provided for students at all levels.

Roundtable Inc., producers of the show, plan to send a follow-up team to Chattanooga to learn more about what is happening in the region for possible use in future programs.

According to College Track news releases, the three-part series examines “how low expectations and lack of rigorous preparation limits student choices for post-secondary education and hampers their chances for success in life.”

College Track gives us the opportunity to pause and consider the issues of college access and equity in our region. The vast majority of our students are first generation college students. This means they are the first in their family to go to college. This series examines why so few of our young people enroll in college and why so many drop out of college before they finish,” according to Sandy Cole, Interim Director, Center for Community Career Education. Cole wrote and submitted the application to College Track on behalf of the region’s efforts.

The UTC Center for Community Career Education coordinates GEAR-Up programs in Walker County and Bradley County schools, and the UTC Teacher Preparation Academy coordinates a GEAR-Up program in Hamilton County. The success of programs such as GEAR-Up is one of the reasons the Chattanooga region was chosen as a partner.

Ultimately, College Track hopes to open a dialogue with parents, students, and educational leaders to identify area needs in the ongoing effort to prepare students for high school graduation and access to post secondary education. In Tennessee, only 17% of the population hold a college degree.

The PBS documentary will air Wednesday nights from 8-9 p.m., September 15, 22 and 29. Chattanooga Comcast will carry the program on WTCI-Channel 45, cable channel 5. In Bradley County, Charter Communication will carry it on cable channel 10, and in Walker County, the broadcast will be carried on Comcast cable channel 5.

One of Channel 45’s locally produced programs, “Beyond the Headlines,” will begin its new season with a follow-up program October 6 at 8 p.m.

This three-part series will examine:

Who's In, Who's Out
This segment examines the educational "sorting machine" that exists in our
public schools, which derails many kids who could be "college material".

Expect the Best
This program considers what happens when the dream of a college education
is set in motion in classrooms and communities where expectations have been

Get In, Stay In
This segment examines which students are prepared to succeed in college and
why so many students drop out before they finish. Issues of race and class
can turn the higher education experience into an obstacle course deterring
some of the best and brightest in the country from graduating with a
four-year degree.

“There are so many programs working to serve the youth of our region, and still we know there are many gaps where some students are slipping through. That’s the real opportunity we have here. To use the heightened awareness that comes from this national broadcast as a leverage to identify where we can do better,” Cole said.

Funding for the local broadcast of College Track comes from UTC, the Center for
Community Career Education, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, the Public
Education Foundation of Chattanooga and the Community Foundation of Greater

“This series gives our community and region a chance to think about how we might be part of a change that will make college more accessible to more students. If we are going to stay competitive, if we are going to make the dream of a college education a reality, if we want a more educated population in this country we must address this issue, soon,” Cole said.

For more information, please contact Sandy Cole at (423)425-4475.