Thompson: Reviewing Tavis Smiley's "Too Important To Fail"
It took three viewings of much of Tavis Smiley's PBS report, "Too Important to Fail," in order to fully appreciate it. I encourage you to take at least one look. In the report, Smiley synthesizes the best of all types of reforms in overcoming the challenges faced by black males, celebrating the best of the new generation of accountability hawks, and showing why we need schools like Chicago's Urban Prep Academy and Philadelphia's Promise Academy. He also addresses issues like emotional trauma and peer influences in poor schools, the need for preschool and reading for comprehension by 3rd grade, the over-reliance on standardized testing, and green education, as well as needing kids themselves to grasp the importance of education. And his full-throated call for Black History to be returned to the inner city classroom was wonderful! Although Smiley does not criticize any educators' solutions, he does not pull any punches in analyzing the magnitude of our problems. It took me awhile to watch the report without trying to read between the lines in order to place Smiley's arguments within the context of our educational civil war, but then it struck me. If educators and wonks could see "To Important to Fail" for what it is, a balanced account of solutions that we can not allow to fail, it could be the model for the transformational change that our democracy needs.- JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.