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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Meanwhile Over in Spokane School District...

From the Seattle Times, a story about a high school teacher in Spokane got put on leave for 3-weeks because he played a rap song by a Seattle duo (Blue Scholars) called "Commencement Day". I immediately Googled these guys and listened to it. Yes, it has a couple of swear words that I don't believe should be used in polite society but I'm not a senior in high school (where I've heard much worse). I really don't believe it is saying education doesn't matter but speaks to youth who might feel (gasp) alienated.

From the Comments section from Geo, a member of the duo:

Geo, who is also known as Prometheus Brown, said he wrote the lyrics soon after he graduated high school, describing the challenges that both students and teachers face.

"It's Ironic," he said. "The song is about the censorship that happens in schools."

In fact, one line in song states: "Bring your paper, but please your lyrics at home."

Geo said he didn't write the song, which references budget cuts and underpaid teachers, just to complain, but to inspire action.

"I'm not knocking education, but there are a lot of things we can do to improve (our schools), for teachers and students," he said. "I hope (the song) keeps spurring that dialogue."

From the song:

It goes one for the student who refuses to submit
And two for the teachers who are underpaid as shit
It’s the next generation of miseducated youth
Who demonstrate the truth and manage to make it through
It goes three for the strikes giving young bloods life
And four for the years you spent stifled inside
It’s the next generation of miseducated youth-next time ask em for proof.

And as one commenter pointed out, Paul Simon didn't exactly pay tribute to public education in Kodachrome:

When I think back to all the crap I learned in high school
It's a wonder I can think at all...

I'm thinking this teacher was trying to say, without preaching, that he/she understands what kids think sometimes as they sit in their seats and go through their day at school. And that maybe, this class just might be different. (Or maybe it was an attempt to seem cool.)

I'm just not getting the administration getting their knickers in a twist over it.

5 comments:

MathTeacher42 said...

The usefulness of my uncle's math teaching advice varies - he's been a university professor since in graduated MIT in the 60s.

He told me, before I started my normal school:

1. ONLY talk about baseball. no one ever got fired for talking about baseball.

2. mothers are ALWAYS right.

anyhoo -

over 200++ new teenage eyeballs yesterday ! I don't think that summer vacation ending, and being in MATH class, was the highlight of their day!

I had a great day - I've just got to make my enthusiasm contagious ...;)

there is sooooooooooooo much to do.

BM

Eric M said...

Blue Scholars performed at an end of the year "Moving up" assembly at Roosevelt High School 4 years ago.

Kids rioted and all died of drug overdoses immediately afterwards.

The first sentence is true.

Sahila said...

eric - sending you a morning hug for making me laugh amidst all this depressing reactionaryism (is that a word?)

Steve said...

Gee, wouldn't want anything from the outside world to intrude on what happens in the classroom. I wonder how many students at the school have that song (or hundreds like it) on their iPods. If I was a student in that class, I'd probably say "Wow, what a cool teacher, and I hadn't ever thought about the lyrics of that song before. Maybe I should pay more attention." And that might lead to liking music that says something important, or thought-provoking, or funny.

Not a lot of details in this story, but I can't see how playing a song in a class can be a bad thing assuming it was used in a "teaching" way by the teacher.

Concerned Teacher said...

Spokane School District has posted a statement on this: http://www.spokaneschools.org/17331047111017637/cwp/view.asp?A=3&Q=328709&C=66108 I had hoped that there was more to this story that would show that the district wasn't being really stupid. The official statement doesn't engender confidence. They state that every supplemental material used in class must go through an approval process. Really? Every song, poem, newspaper article? How many of the district's teacher follow that? Does the district make that clear to teachers? My district certainly doesn't.

I can understand reprimanding the teacher if they didn't follow procedure, but there doesn't seem to be anything here that warrants the spending of extra money involved with a paid leave and the disruption to the learning environment in the classroom and school.