Rap song played in St. Charles class draws complaints

Thursday, September 3, 2009 | 10:02 a.m. CDT

ST. CHARLES— A suburban St. Louis teacher's decision to play a rap song with anti-police lyrics has raised concerns.

St. Charles School District Superintendent Randal Charles received complaints after the St. Charles West High School teacher played a 1988 song from the group N.W.A. in a composition class for seniors.

The subject matter was controversial speech, and the teacher was trying to show how people can become desensitized to harsh language. Some have said the song promotes violence against police. Others say it protested police brutality.

Charles said the teacher erred in not getting approval from the principal to play the song.

The teacher's name was not released, and Charles declined to say if the instructor was disciplined.

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King Diamond September 3, 2009 | 10:27 a.m.

The kids are in high school; they should be able to handle the language and the material was relevant.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 3, 2009 | 10:42 a.m.

Just because it rhymes doesn't make it poetry.
(If the verbiage would violate the public rules for this commentary site, then maybe the public school venue was not the best place to experiment with NWA.)
Probably best to leave such profanity/vulgarity to the private colleges and the PTA's can work out the impact of "street knowledge" on their own.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 3, 2009 | 11:03 a.m.

("For my own little bit of activism, I'm going to use the lyrics to Eminem's
two songs about murdering his wife (those are the one's I know about) in my
Social Problems course this semester. Students work in groups and bring in
music that constructs some aspect of a social problem. I'm going to use his
work for the demonstration of what I want the students to do.")
source and more:

("The songs’ lyrics are so ridiculously violent that they are unbelievable. It portrayed an urban society as a group of gangs fighting for territory to distribute drugs to get power. The Ice-T song “Cop Killer” has in its lyrics, “Die, die, die, pig.” This song incited the black society to act against cops. This action opened the door for violence between the Black society and police officials, letting the young people believe that violence is the answer to police brutality used to handle black criminals in their community.
There is a lot of obscene language in gangsta rap, which is unnecessary in the songs’ lyrics. That kind of music is the one that, believe it or not, influence the new generations in this country. This music portrays women as disposable and exchangeable sexual objects. “The gangsta rap celebrates a world in which women are either bitches or whores and men can hit her, or kick her as he pleases. Expressing situations where disaffected young men have .9-millimiter-handgun solutions to minor slights.”(Glamour, magazine.)
Young people get the message given through music and there is proof that there is some kind of connection between suicide and music.... Parents should be aware; the values in society should be reinforced at home, where the children should be protected from the wrong influences in their environments.")
source and more:

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 3, 2009 | 11:11 a.m.

("After studying 522 black girls between the ages of 14 and 18 from non- urban, lower socioeconomic neighborhoods, researchers found that compared to those who never or rarely watched these videos, the girls who viewed these gangsta videos for at least 14 hours per week were far more likely to practice numerous destructive behaviors. Over the course of the one-year study, they were:

Three times more likely to hit a teacher
Over 2.5 times more likely to get arrested
Twice as likely to have multiple sexual partners
1.5 times more likely to get a sexually transmitted disease, use drugs, or drink alcohol.")
source and more:

(Report Comment)
jessica sanchez September 3, 2009 | 9:04 p.m.

i went to this school and I have a hard time believing any of the english teachers would do something like this intentionally if it were to bring about problems. From my guessing it probably wasn't simply an english 5 class, it was probably a higher education english class, which i took myself. I agree that there children are 17 or 18 years old. Many of them are able to be fight in was but are not old enough to hear a rap song? I'm sure whatever song they listened to wasn't half as bad as when these children listen to on the radio today.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 3, 2009 | 11:52 p.m.

Fighting in wars, in the halls or at home and getting away with listening to K-RAP on your own is not the point.
It's still Public High School.
I assure you that if the English Teacher was to discuss the pitfalls of listening to K-RAP, most students would defend their right to listen to whatever they want and insist that it doesn't effect them in the least.
Maybe by playing this border-line pornographic gangsta' rap in a Public School classroom, the teacher thought he'd win over some kind of emotional Kudos from his students. Bad judgement on the part of the teacher.
Complaints and concerns are appropriate in this case.
Especially if these high schoolers still live with their parents.

(Report Comment)
King Diamond September 4, 2009 | 9:41 a.m.

Ray, "The subject matter was controversial speech" -- did you read the article above? I'm not sure what they would be reading or hearing for controversial speech if it wasn't ... controversial.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 4, 2009 | 12:34 p.m.

@King Diamond:
"...and the teacher was trying to show how people can become desensitized to harsh language."
So, if we don't take offense to the "language" used in NWA rap, I guess he proves his case.

I wonder if other Public High School Teachers are teaching this subject of controversial speech, and if so what materials they use? It's my understanding that Mark Twain's Huck Finn might have some controversial language in it.
Heck, even the speeches and words coming out of the mouths of governmental dictators are controversial. Their hate speech desensitized masses of people. Some of these people were so desensitized that they forgot that ovens were really meant for cooking food you planned to eat....
My guess is that this teacher just made an attempt to be popular.
His choice of supporting material is highly questionable.
I'm done on this subject.
--Be well. Live long and prosper...

(Report Comment)

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