A new episode of “Tavis Smiley Reports,” a primetime special on PBS, will examine the increased dropout rate among black teenage males.
In the episode, titled “Too Important to Fail,” Smiley travels across the country, speaking to education experts as well as to the boys themselves about the challenges they face and how education can be redirected to address their needs. Smiley also profiles individuals who are making a difference in the lives of young black males and looks at the schools that are best serving them.
“If the crisis were a crisis involving white boys, what would the response be?” said Smiley. “As we saw recently in the UK, an entire society suffers when one part of a population is ignored; s new focus on our black boys is a renewed focus on America.”
In a news release, Smiley noted:
- In many states less than 50% of young black males graduate from high school.
- Low graduation rates combined with high rates of placement in special education classes and disproportionate use of suspension and expulsion, add up to a crisis point for young black males on the brink of adulthood.
- Generational poverty, the pressure on single parent households, continued unemployment, the lack of positive male role models in schools, crime, drugs, gangs and the condition of many urban schools aid in the alarming dropout rate.
- In too many traditional classrooms, particularly where teachers are asked to handle large classes, active boys are seen as disciplinary problems and are treated accordingly; teacher expectations are often lower for boys who seem less focused; it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that boys fail when teachers expect them to do so.
“Too Important to Fail” premiers at 6 p.m., Tuesday, September 13, on PBS.