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The Pushouts

I was in prison before I was even born.” So begins the story of Victor Rios - a high school dropout, gang member, and three-time felon by 15. But when a teacher’s quiet persistence, a mentor’s moral conviction, and his best friend’s murder converge, Rios’ path takes an unlikely turn. Two decades later Rios - by then a 36-year-old tenured UC professor, author and national thought leader on the school-to-prison pipeline - gets a call. “Hey Hotshot.” It’s Martín Flores, Rios’ high school mentor, who he hasn’t heard from in 15 years. “I know you’re busy, but I need you to come down to Watts this summer and work with my kids.” It's a make it or break it moment for these youth, Flores - who directs a program serving 16 to 24 olds who haven’t finished high school - warns. “We get them on the right path now, or we lose them to the system.” Woven with archival material stretching back 25 years to Rios’ own troubled adolescence and including the contemporary story of this fateful summer in Watts, THE PUSHOUTS examines crucial questions of race, class, power, and the American dream at a particularly urgent time.

Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO) | Reviewed by Margaret M. Reed, Riley-Hickingbotham Library, Ouachita Baptist University
"Eye-opening and inspiring, The Pushouts is a powerful reminder that the best mentors are those who’ve been down the same path as their students. They see their life experiences as a gift that must be shared with the next generation. They tap students’ potential and equip them to move beyond their circumstances.
Highly recommended for all libraries, The Pushouts is an essential resource for courses in education, counseling, sociology, and criminal justice."

School Library Journal
"Motivating and inspiring, with a strong message of resilience and ­perseverance."

Video Librarian ★★★
K. Fennessy
"As Flores puts it, 'education is a way up and a way out.' An inspiring film, this is recommended."
Santa Rosa Junior College | Rhonda Findling, Second Chance Program Counselor/Coordinator
"I would highly recommend The Pushouts for educators at all levels, especially those that care about students from disenfranchised underserved communities. It also features the voice of Victor Rios, who has a remarkable story of coming from a gang neighborhood and gang life, to being inspired by a high school teacher to turn his life around. With that support, he pursued a PhD and is now a professor at UC Santa Barbara. This film is also incredibly inspiring for underrepresented youth who are marginalized and funneled into the prison pipeline."
Latino Public Broadcasting | Sandie Viquez Pedlow, Executive Director
"We are so pleased about this wonderful recognition of a very powerful story that explores the complex trajectory of Latino and African American youth who are struggling to prepare for life after high school. We recognize The Pushouts is the kind of film that public media stations can use to build partnerships at the local level and spark a national dialogue on the future of America’s youth."

National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME)
"This is a very compelling film not only because of Victor Rios’ story but also because of the stories of the young people he and Martin Flores work with in the present day. The film humanizes youth who are often only seen as part of a crime story on the news. They are the kids who end up falling victim to police harassment and brutality. They are not drop outs, they are pushouts."

"This would be a great film to show to preservice teachers—especially those who come from backgrounds unlike the students in this film. It would be especially good for these preservice teachers to see this just before they start student teaching. The film is a reminder that every student has a story, every student should be seen as a person in spite of their behavior or academic performance. The film would also be an excellent film to show seasoned teachers as well. Regardless of whether they teach in the inner city or the suburbs the film has relevance to all situations because all schools have students who struggle with economic disadvantage, lack of support at home and discrimination. Because it is under an hour it lends itself very well to a professional development class. It might be something to motivate faculty during convocation just before the start of the school year."


Main credits

Galloway, Katie (film director)
Galloway, Katie (film producer)
Galloway, Katie (screenwriter)
Valadez, Dawn D. (film director)
Valadez, Dawn D. (film producer)
Sueuga, Daniella Brower (film producer)
Sueuga, Daniella Brower (screenwriter)
Rios, Victor M. (narrator)

Other credits

Director of photography, Mario Furloni; editor, Stephanie Mechura; original music, B. Quincy Griffin.

Docuseek subjects

Distributor subjects

Criminal Justice
Social Work
Adolescent Development
Latinx Studies


Counseling, Education, Criminal Justice, Social Work, Adolescent Development, Latinx Studies, Sociology; "The Pushouts"; GOOD DOCS