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By peoplestaff225
Updated September 10, 2009 01:30 PM
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Every 26 seconds a student drops out of an American high school, for a total of 7,000 dropouts each day. Only half of all college freshman will go on to earn a degree. And an overwhelming percentage of Americans now believe that the quality of education offered in the United States lags behind other nations, and that that education gap will negatively affect the American economy. It’s clear that a problem exists; The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have partnered with Viacom to offer a solution.

Get Schooled, a five-year initiative aimed at generating greater awareness of and engagement in our nationwide educational crisis, was unveiled earlier this week — and not a moment too soon, according to Bill Gates.

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Count celebrity parents Seal, Heidi Klum and Tichina Arnold among the engaged!

Each was on hand Tuesday at an education conference held at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles; As attendees, they were treated to a screening of Get Schooled: You Have the Right, a documentary featuring President Barack Obama and others which later aired across all of Viacom’s U.S. networks.

Their support is crucial to the goals of Get Schooled, which hopes to shine a light not only on low graduation rates in college and high school but also the accountability of teachers. Adds Bill,

“People should understand how the system is falling short today and how it really contradicts our commitment to equal opportunity. If we don’t change it now, it will hurt the future of the country as a whole.”

Heidi and Seal are parents to Leni, 5, Henry, 4 this week, and Johan, 2 ½; They expect a daughter in mid-October. Tichina is mom to daughter Alijah Kai, 5.

For more information on Get Schooled, click here.

— Missy