Original air date: September 13, 2011

Too Important to Fail

In the fifth installment of Tavis Smiley Reports, Tavis investigates the root causes of the increased dropout rate among teenagers, specifically among Black teenage males, as well as what can be done and is being done to reverse this.

Episode Expanded

In this video, Roberts Vaux Promise Academy student Jamill Jackson and his schoolmate Brandon Rose explain why having teachers and school administrators who listen to them has made the difference in their education and in their lives.
Elementary school classroom
How can we ensure success not just for a handful of Black boys and men but for the millions that are falling short of their full potential? In this piece, the Department of Education's assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement offers his prescription for success.
Youth Offenders
In this heart-rending video, a group of youth offenders discuss their embarrassment over being imprisoned as teens.
PolicyLink's Angela Glover Blackwell discusses why, as a group, boys and men of color are on the front lines of the crisis in the U.S.
Explore documents that detail the outcomes for young Black men in this country, including a compelling report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation that emphasizes the connection between early childhood literacy and dropout rates.
Woolworth Davis
In this Web-exclusive video, Dr. Ethel Allen Promise Academy Principal Woolworth Davis explains why parents must stop making excuses for their sons and instead teach them responsibility.
What does education have to do with health? Robert Phillips of The California Endowment explains the link between education and health and outlines the barriers to good health and educational attainment that young Black men face in the state of California.
Arlene Ackerman
Why did the governing body of Philadelphia's school district buy out its superintendent—to the tune of more than $900,000? Join the discussion and learn more about the upcoming primetime broadcast, "Too Important to Fail."
What often gets lost in the “numbers” on boys and men of color is that improving outcomes in one area may also have spillover benefits in other areas.
Richard Wright
Ten writers from the African American Adolescent Male Summer Literacy Institute share their writings. This is just a sampling of what young black males will produce if they are afforded the opportunity. The power that resides in their words and the backdrops to their writings are transformative.
Investor panel Photo by Mike Green
What can be done to stem the tide of economic despair today? And what is the key to financing Black innovation? Guest blogger Mike Green offers in-depth analysis of Black capital and shares 21st century solutions to the problems facing Black Americans and young Black men in particular.
America has an insatiable appetite for a costly, ineffective system. We have the highest incarceration rate in the world. And in addition to being ineffective and expensive, incarcerating youth who are not real threats to the public safety can make the problem worse.
Tavis talks visits with Walter Finnie, Jr., a member of the L.A. Conservation Corps.
More information on key people and organizations in this episode and links to related news articles and blogs.
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