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Implementation of questionable ‘Flocabulary’ hip-hop program hits bump in OKC schools

By   /   October 6, 2010  /   No Comments

By ANDREW W. GRIFFIN

Oklahoma Watchdog, editor

Posted: October 6, 2010

andrew@oklahomawatchdog.org

OKLAHOMA CITY — It didn’t take long for Oklahoma City Public School teachers to raise a flag of concern regarding the implementation of “Flocabulary,” a “hip-hop curriculum” aimed at “at-risk youth” that we addressed here at Oklahoma Watchdog back in June.

Our articles – “OCPS to spend $97k on hip-hop Flocabulary” and “OCPS spokesperson says ‘conventional methods’ of teaching aren’t effective” – noted that

OCPS spokesperson Kathleen Kennedy told Oklahoma Watchdog in late June that federal funds are paying for Flocabulary and that it has no affect on the district’s general fund which is being cut.

At the time we wrote: “Kennedy seemed almost defensive when questioned about the program, particularly when asked why a trendy, hip-hop teaching program would be used rather than “conventional” teaching methods.

With her voice somewhat raised, Kennedy replied: “You can’t use conventional methods to teach children these days.” She said programs like Flocabulary are used to reach children who otherwise might not be reached.

“This is not traditional,” Kennedy said. “Some people may not like it but it is effective.”

We attempted to get someone from Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Flocabulary to speak with Oklahoma Watchdog. We were unsuccessful in doing so.

And now we see this week in The Oklahoman, in a story headlined “Oklahoma City district pushes pause on hip-hop curriculum,” that Flocabulary’s attack on American historical figures like Presidents Andrew Jackson and James Monroe – as if the rap lyrics were written by leftist writer Howard Zinn – that OCPS Superintendent Karl Springer had “concerns” and that the district is “holding off on the program until it’s been evaluated.”

And at SeeWorth Academy, where Flocabulary is being embraced, Superintendent Janet Grigg said her students “learn in a different way’ and that raps, rhythms and rhymes are apparently the only way the SeeWorth teachers can reach these “at-risk youth.”

As one regular reader of Oklahoma Watchdog noted, “How about the district use those $97,000 in federal funds to get teachers to work one-on-one with those students rather than using a highly-questionable rap program that denigrates American historical figures, calling them ‘old dead white men’?”

A good question. And we hope to talk to Superintendent Springer about this issue. In the meantime, note today’s Oklahoman editorial addressing the issue.

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Andrew Griffin