Interviewed and written by Aaron Robinson - Editor
Is there a solution to counteract the teen dropout rate in America so that our ‘futures of tomorrow’ can have a better life? In the episode of Tavis Smiley Reports “Education Under Arrest,” a primetime special on PBS, Tavis Smiley will take a closer look at the education system, examining the connection between the dropout rate among American teens and the juvenile system in the sixth episode installation. Tavis Smiley travels through states such as Washington, California, Missouri and Louisiana speaking to judges, law enforcers and educators in hopes to end “the school-to-prison pipeline.”
“I hope that we will raise our consciousness level in what we’re doing to our kids. I hope that we will start to focus more on our school-to-prison pipeline that is getting very crowded and that we will come to have a real conversation about how we are essentially throwing our kids under the bus,” seriously explains Smiley, who’s anticipating to bring awareness to the drop out crisis in America. “Education Under Arrest” will take a look at the consequence of “zero tolerance” that infiltrates throughout the school system, seeing how it would escalate; in which may lead a teen to appear in front of a judge to shortly having a criminal record.
“One of the reasons we did this special was not to look at the problem, but at the solution. So we went to the state of Washington that has had a little problem with kids. In Washington State you’re talking mostly white kids. This is not just a problem with black and brown kids,” exclaims Tavis who later expresses the solution to the problem. “The truancy boards do a lot of work in helping these kids who are dropping out of school. The truancy boards are working to put these kids back in school,” expresses Smiley, who looks to having this particular solution implemented in all the schools across America.
With high statistics of youth crime rates, there seem to be other effective alternatives to combat youth violence; however, America continues to build more facilities to detain at-risk youth. “That’s one of the questions that we raised with this special over and over again. Our economy is stalled. The prison industry is the fastest growing industry in America. Why? Because it is a business; we incarcerate more people in the nation than any other country in the world. Like everything else, it’s all about money,” irritably says the night talk show host. He continues. “The lives of these children are dependable and it’s sad because it cost a whole lot of less money to educate these kids then it does to incarcerate these kids.”
Over the years, Tavis Smiley has been an instrument to making a positive impact on the African American culture. He is the author of 16 books, such as New York Times best-sellers Covenant With Black America, What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America and The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto, just to name a few. His talk show Tavis Smiley on PBS is produced by TS Media, Inc., where he has been influential to bringing awareness and concerns regarding epidemics throughout the country.
Smiley speaks on the parental involvement. “Parental involvement makes a difference. In some cases you’re not going to have wonderful parental involvement like I had while growing up with two parents. But that still doesn’t mean that the school can throw these kids under the school bus. We are still obligated to help them get a quality education through parental involvement. But trust me the parental involvement definitely makes the difference.”
Sometimes in life, a simple ‘I love you’ can make a difference in an individual’s life. In regards to our youth, they need to know that they are looked after and cared for. Smiley shares his thought. “Young people need to know they are loved. I saw that so clearly through doing this special. They need to know that they matter. No one just wants to live a life of just being born or to be treated as an afterthought or some sort of calculation. Last thing they need is for somebody to put some expectations on them,” seriously says Smiley.
Tavis Smiley Reports “Education Under Arrest,” premiers Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 8-9 p.m. ET on PBS. The special is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting called American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, who uses public media to finding solutions to the drop out crisis.
PBS will also broadcast “180 Days: A Year Inside an American School” (produced by National Black Programming Consortium) in conjunction with “Education Under Arrest.” This particular series will highlight the significant challenges of the teachers and what the administration faces with students who are from broken homes, teen mothers, and who face crime in the streets. There is a positive outcome.
For more information about Tavis Smiley Reports “Education Under Arrest” visit http://www.pbs.org/wnet/tavissmiley/tsr/education-under-arrest/ or www.tavistalks.com
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Last modified: April 24, 2023