Tavis Smiley Reports Preview

Tavis previews next week’s primetime special: Tavis Smiley Reports, “Too Important to Fail.”

Across the U.S., less than 50% of young Black males will graduate from high school. This is only one of the disturbing statistics of the education crisis facing America today. In the fifth episode of Tavis Smiley Reports—"Too Important to Fail," premiering next Wednesday, September 13—Tavis investigates the root causes of this calamity, as well as what can be done and is being done to reverse this. He traveled the country, speaking to education experts and boys themselves about the challenges they face and how education can be redirected to address their needs.


Tavis: I hope you’ll join us in primetime on Tuesday, September 13th, for the next installment of our series, “Tavis Smiley Reports.” In the next edition we’ll explore the crisis in education and in particular the plight of African American boys.

In some states, less than half of all Black teenage boys graduate from high school, a staggering statistic that impacts all Americans.

Here now, a quick preview of “Too Important to Fail: Saving America’s Boys.”

[Begin video clip.]

“William Wade:” We form major relationships with our young people.

“Tavis:” Principal William Wade is one of Philadelphia’s top educators.

“William Wade:” The focus on each individual child is different than what you see across the country.

“Tavis:” Let me cut in. Where Black boys are concerned specifically, what are the signs for you as a leader, as an educator, as a principal, that teacher X, Y or Z isn’t really ready to deal with this particular contingent?

“William Wade:” Well, the early warning indicators for me, first of all, African American males are very intimidating to some people. Because of the baggage that they bring through the front door, it causes them to act out in classes when they are falling behind academically.

The easiest thing to do is to run a young man out of your classroom or run him out of your school, but the true work, the true gist of our work as educators, how can we work with this young person to improve their learning, which I challenge all my teachers to do.

But some teachers held grudges with these young men because of some baggage that they brought in. They’re victims. They were victims of society and you have to recognize that as an educator and remove those obstacles. Talk to them, build relationships, build trust, offer your assistance, and at the same time, educate them.

“Tavis:” I’ve never heard of students, Black males or others, referred to as victims. I get the point you’re making, but what do you mean by that?

“William Wade:” Well, they’re victims of several things that plague our urban areas. The high crime rate, things that they have witnessed, single parent homes, because of fathers or mothers being incarcerated.

They’re victims of some things that they should not be exposed to, some things that they didn’t have control of. So they are victims of society because they didn’t write it this way.

[End video clip.]

Tavis: So please join us on most of these PBS stations Tuesday, September 13th, at 8:00 p.m., for our look at education in America, “Too Important to Fail.” It’s part of the American graduate initiative from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

You can also visit our website at PBS.org for more information about our companion eBook and DVD.

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Last modified: September 7, 2011 at 1:29 pm