Class of 2025

A radio documentary follows a group of Oregon first-graders as they start their educational journey toward high school.

Josh reads a story he wrote to his mom.
Photo by Michael Clapp, OPB

The state of Oregon has set an ambitious goal to have the entire class of 2025 graduate high school. To chart this effort—its challenges, successes and impact—OPB is following a group of Portland children on their educational journey from kindergarten through high school.

In this one-hour radio documentary, Rob Manning tells the stories of five of those students as they enter first grade. Listeners hear from the children as they share their innermost feelings and concerns about school and family. These interviews, combined with interviews with their parents, teachers and school administrators, reveal hard truths about public education in America: how, even in good schools, children who are poor, who are learning English, or who aren’t ethnically white are destined to face more barriers early on in their education.

Taken together, the children’s stories mirror the challenges—and the possibilities—facing our nation’s schools as they strive to produce well-educated graduates.

This radio documentary first aired on OPB on June 3, 2014.

It has also been aired on WNIJ (DeKalb, Illinois), KERA (North Texas), Northeast Indiana Public Radio, WHRV (Norfolk, Virgina), XRAY FM (Portland, Oregon), KMXT (Kodiak, Alaska), and KAXE (Minnesota), and KBXE of Northern Community Radio.

OPB’s long-term “Class of 2025” project is part of American GraduateLet’s Make It Happen!—a public broadcasting initiative to address the dropout crisis, supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Story Links

Read Renaissance Journalism’s blog

Executive Director Jon Funabiki, writes on the “Class of 2025” documentary and what it teaches us about covering a complex issue such as educational equity.


Rob Manning’s work for “Class of 2025” has received numerous honors:

  • Regional Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association
  • First place in the Social Issues Reporting category from the Society of Professional Journalists, Northwest
  • Winner in the Best Special Program category from the Associated Press Television and Radio Association of California, Nevada, Hawaii, Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, Washington, Colorado, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska and Oregon
  • Finalist in the category of Best News Documentary or Special from the New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards

Rob Manning has reported news for Oregon Public Broadcasting since 2003. He covers education and local government for the media outlet. Manning was part of the reporting teams that won a 2009 Peabody Award and a 2004 Harry Chapin Media Award. He also earned four awards in 2015 for his long-term education project “Class of 2025.” Manning graduated from Pomona College with a concentration in anthropology and music.