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A recent 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 front lines of reforming the juvenile justice system. 

Watch "Education Under Arrest" Promo on PBS. See more from Tavis Smiley.


Many public schools are still operating under the 1999 “Zero Tolerance” initiative, which tied federal funding to this mandate. “Zero Tolerance,” which came about after the horrifying Columbine tragedy, demands that kids be removed from schools the first time they transgress—even for minor offenses. This puts them into the juvenile justice system—a system that those who work within its confines admit too often does a better job of punishment than rehabilitation and re-integration into schools.

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REPORT- Out of School and Off Track: The Overuse of Suspensions in American Middle and High Schools

NPR: Why Some Schools Want to Expel Suspensions

Edutopia: The Link Between Suspension and Dropout
New York Times: Civil Rights Complaint Filed in Texas Truancy Cases

APT / Southern Education Desk: Birmingham Police Regularly Pepper-Spraying High School Students on Campus

PBS NewsHour: Harsh Punishment for Misbehavior in Texas Schools

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