Why Are More Black Males Dropping Out of High School?

In a new PBS special, Tavis Smiley investigates why factors such as generational poverty, unemployment, and the lack of positive male role models in schools are contributing to staggering drop-out rates in Black male youth.

Posted: 08/16/2011 10:20 PM EDT
Filed Under education

PBS broadcaster Tavis Smiley will make an inquiry into an alarming truth that is well known yet rarely discussed: the number of African-American high school drop-outs, specifically males, is increasing at an alarming rate.

 

A 2006 study by The Manhattan Institute surveyed 100 of the largest school districts in the United States and found that only 48 percent of African-American males earned a diploma—that’s 11 percent less than African-American females. More troubling is the research that shows on an average day, one and four Black males who drop out of high school will end up incarcerated.

 

High rates of placement in special education classes and disproportionate use of suspension and expulsion only exacerbate the problem.

 

“As we saw recently in the U.K., an entire society suffers when one part of a population is ignored," Smiley said in a statement. "A new focus on our Black boys is a renewed focus on America."

 

In the primetime special airing on PBS, Smiley will travel across the country and interview educational experts as well as the young men who have succumbed to this cultural epidemic.

 

Smiley’s special, entitled “Too Important To Fail”, premieres on September 13 at 8 p.m.

 

Too Important to Fail is also a national education initiative, including parent summits and a reading mobile truck tour, that is aimed at reducing drop-out rates by empowering the roles of teachers, parents, community leaders and government.  

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