A new episode of TAVIS SMILEY REPORTS (TSR), a primetime special on PBS, looks at the connection between the juvenile justice system and the dropout rate among American teens, as well as the efforts by educators, law enforcement professionals, judges, youth advocates and the at-risk teens themselves to end what has become known as “the school-to-prison pipeline.” In the sixth installment of TSR, and the second in a series of education specials, host Tavis Smiley takes his cameras across the country to present a narrative of what is working on the frontlines of reforming the juvenile justice system.
TAVIS SMILEY REPORTS: “Education Under Arrest” premieres Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET on PBS. It is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, a public media initiative supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to help local communities across America find solutions to the dropout crisis.
In “Education Under Arrest,” Smiley takes a hard look at the consequences of the “zero tolerance” policy and travels to Washington State, Louisiana, Missouri and California, speaking to experts like Judge Jimmie Edwards, principal of Innovative Concept Academy in St. Louis, who believes the policy is not the best route. “Locking up an 11-year-old in jail for any length of time doesn’t make sense for him, for his family and certainly not for his community,” said Judge Edwards.
Also joining Smiley in this special are:
16-year-old Devin and 17-year-old Darlis, two Washington State teens caught up in the juvenile justice system, who speak frankly about the mistakes they’ve made and the consequences of being in lockdown.
Sisters Kenyatta and Kennisha, both excellent students from New Orleans who were caught in the zero-tolerance net and arrested for fighting.
The experts and advocates profiled in “Education Under Arrest” say that too often disciplinary problems such as disruptive behavior, foul language and truancy, which in prior generations were handled within the school, are now dealt with through suspension, expulsion and arrests. Two-thirds to three-fourths of teens who are incarcerated in juvenile detention centers withdraw from or drop out of high school.
“The report card is not good. One in every three teens who is arrested, is arrested in school “” which literally arrests their progress for a promising education,” says Smiley. “We’re just losing too many kids to this system. There seems to be a highway in but barely a sidewalk out.”
Screenings of “Education Under Arrest,” hosted in-part by Big Brothers Big Sisters, are being held in several markets across the country beginning with a special conversation moderated by Smiley at The California Endowment in Los Angeles, CA on March 18 at 7pm. The Nine Network of Public Media in St. Louis, MO will host a screening on March 19 at 6:30pm. Additional screenings will be held in Albuquerque, NM; New Orleans, LA; Nashville, TN; Birmingham, AL; Chicago, IL; and Philadelphia, PA.
PBS will present this report in conjunction with 180 DAYS: A YEAR INSIDE AN AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOL , immediately following TSR. This special, airing on PBS over two nights on March 25 and 26, presents an intimate portrait of life for the first graduating class of Washington Metropolitan High School (DC Met), a public school in Washington, DC, where only seven percent of students are deemed “proficient” in math and only 19 percent in reading. 180 DAYS is also part of American Graduate.