Q: What's wrong with the education provided to low-income students of color?
A: Schools in the US, are unfortunately, give better opportunities to white middle class students than to their low-income peers of color. We consciously chose to refer to this gap (and the resulting problems) as the opportunity gap and not the achievement gap. We've got serious problems:
(Data from our friends at National Opportunity to Learn Campaign)
The opportunity gap has long-term consequences for individuals and our nation.
- Ninety percent of American children attend public schools today, and that will probably continue. Public education is the only system capable of affecting the massive number of students needed to right our country's trajectory.
- Having a high-quality education system for all students regardless of their ZIP codes is not only the democratic measure for leadership, it is increasingly the major determinant of a nation's economic fate.
- Over the next 30 years, U.S. cities and states probably will be defined by what happens for the bottom two-thirds of citizens rather than the top one-third.
- Only one-third of Americans have any college or postsecondary credentials, and the bottom two-thirds of Americans are more likely to drop out of schools and to be incarcerated.
- Black males are pushed out of high school and into the pipeline to prison at rates higher than they graduate and reach high levels of academic achievement.
Q: What is critical hip hop pedagogy?
Q: But wait, isn't hip hop misogynistic and homophobic?
A: You're probably thinking of the product sold to radio stations that is filled with hate and materialism. We're not talking about that. We're talking about the trees that stem from the actual roots of hip-hop (which was founded by youth during the 1970s who wanted to critique and dismantle racism and class based systems of oppression). The real hip hop is actually a critical text for understanding the world around us and interrogates misogyny, homophobia and other types of oppression. Our main takeaway is that the real hip hop was about young people using their knowledge and resources to create something new that addressed community concerns and developed new uses for technology. Our schools do the very same thing.
Q: What are your solutions for schools?
A: What if every kid were, pushed in the classroom, connected to supportive resources, had access to cutting edge technology, learned to code, lead community development projects and developed self-esteem and leadership skills? These are the things that happen at our schools that helps us prepare leaders in the STEM and community development pipeline. Our students are awesome, and we help make them even more awesome and prepared to take on the challenges of the world. Our students are and will build the solutions to the opportunity gap.