Pitbull Opens a Charter School; Critics Focus More on His Lyrics Than Kids’ Success

Celebrity rapper Pitbull (of "I Know You Want Me" fame) has been the subject of some seemingly unusual criticism lately. In addition to the more standard complaints that his song lyrics are misogynistic and hyper-sexualized, education activists recently chastised Pitbull (actual name: Armando Christian Pérez) for lending his name and support to a new charter school in Miami, Florida.

Eva Rinaldi/Wikimedia CommonsEva Rinaldi/Wikimedia CommonsThe school, Sports Leadership & Management Academy (S.L.A.M.), is a charter school for grades six through 12 that opened its doors this fall. Pitbull says the vocational bent of S.L.A.M.'s sports theme is a “way to hook kids for whom school is boring.”

The rapper said he is motivated by a desire for kids to realize their creative potential through a curriculum that emphasizes their interests. He sends three of his own children to charter schools.

Although many parents and educators welcomed the school’s opening, there were some who took serious issue. One of the most notable critics, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education and renowned charter school opponent Diane Ravitch, opened fire on the school for being “managed by a for-profit corporation.” Ravitch also targeted Pitbull specifically, insinuating that his only interest is financial gain and that his song lyrics disqualify him from supporting children’s education.

Ravitch, who is a former charter school advocate and the author of Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools, has claimed that her opposition to charter schools is based (in large part) on evidence that they're ineffective. In a 2011 interview with NPR, she said:

Handing the schools in low-income neighborhoods over to private entrepreneurs does not, in itself, improve them. There's plenty of evidence by now that the kids in those schools do no better.

She ends her tirade against S.L.A.M. with the question, “How are we supposed to “outcompete” the globe by turning our children over to uneducated sports stars and rappers?”

However, while Ravitch – and the slew of bloggers who attacked S.L.A.M. – say they oppose it on the grounds that it will hurt the kids involved, they failed to mention any evidence that this might actually happen. While they detailed the many ways that Academica (the firm managing S.L.A.M. and more than 100 other charter schools across the country) makes and spends money, they neglected to mention the many ways that Academica has been successful in providing high-quality education.

A brief review of the numbers shows that the students in Pitbull’s school may end up doing very well. According to Academica’s website, over the firm’s 15-year history, 100% of their schools’ contracts have been renewed. Of Academica’s 73 Florida-based charter schools (which teach mostly minority students receiving free or reduced-cost lunch), a majority received "A's" from the state last year for student performance and improvement. Just two received a "D" and one an “F”. Additionally, several of Academica's schools ranked in the top 10% in the state. 

It’s not just Academica’s charter schools though that are trouncing critics’ arguments. In a 2012 report, the Florida Department of Education found that charter schools in general are continuing to outperform the state’s public schools in math, science, and reading.

So while Ravitch and others bemoan the fact that charter schools can be profitable and that Pitbull's song lyrics are morally questionable, they may want to focus on what actually matters: How much will the kids be learning?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • playa manhattan||

    "has claimed that her opposition to charter schools is based (in large part) on evidence that they're ineffective."

    Interesting. That's one of the reasons I'm opposed to public schools. But I have many more reasons.

  • ||

    Ineffective at.....what?

    I had the impression they were more effective academically.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    No. That's wrong. Because reasons and profit is bad. Terrorist!

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Because of ObamaCare's use of for-profit companies (insert sneer of distaste here) I had the "profit is bad" discussion with a friend from academia just last week. He expects to go to work and have the income from it exceed the costs associated with doing that job. That difference is known as "a profit."
    He didn't appreciate that.

  • Libertarius||

    You guys should check out the VanDamme Academy in California. Lisa VanDamme has applied the Objectivist epistemology to Maria Montessori's philosophy of education with absolutely stunning results.

  • ||

    Som are more effective...some aren't. The crappy ones do eventually get shut down, which is more than we can say for their government counter-parts.

  • Bean Counter||

    "How much will the kids be learning?"

    What has that got to do with anything? The purpose of schools is to provide job security for teachers and administrators and provide a way to indoctrinate kids in the proper way to see life. Learning is a bug, not a feature and may be counterproductive, since it may cause the kids to question their teachers - Madness!!

  • sarcasmic||

    Handing the schools in low-income neighborhoods over to private entrepreneurs does not, in itself, improve them.

    She's got the straw man on the ropes! Look at her work the body! I think she's gonna knock it out! A left the the chin! *WHAM* The straw man is down for the count!

  • Live Free or Diet||

    When Giant Foods took over an excellent local chain here, the same stores with mostly the same employees got the Reverse Midas Touch®.
    When we started going to Kroger instead, Giant stopped getting our money. Were I to try that with the public schools system I'd get a free ride to the pokey.

  • sarcasmic||

    Sometimes private entrepreneurs suck worse than government idiots.

    Difference is that it's easy to get rid of private entrepreneurs. Just don't give them your money. Government idiots on the other hand...

  • Marshall Gill||

    A brief review of the numbers shows that the students in Pitbull’s school may end up doing very well.

    Very well? To be true the criteria would have to be so low that you would need James Cameron to find it. Oh, it is.

    According to Academica’s website, over the firm’s 15-year history, 100% of their schools’ contracts have been renewed. Of Academica’s 73 Florida-based charter schools (which teach mostly minority students receiving free or reduced-cost lunch), a majority received "A's" from the state last year for student performance and improvement. Just two received a "D" and one an “F”. Additionally, several of Academica's schools ranked in the top 10% in the state.

    No sane person considers this "very well". More like winning the "Twit Olympics".

  • johnl||

    You might naively think that several of any random set of 73 schools should be in the top 10%.

  • ||

    The "profit is bad" shit is simply for the gibbering morons who will defend public education to the ends of the earth no matter what, usually paired with protecting the teacher's unions.

    No, Ravitch knows that if enough charter schools are allowed to exist, it's going to brutally undercut the public school edifice as tons of parents immediately take their kids out of horrible public schools and enroll them in charters. And seeing as she's part and parcel of that public school edifice, she'll do whatever she can and tell whatever lies she needs to to try and stop charter schools before people can widely see that they work better.

    And eve if they didn't "work better" they still give parents more choice on the focus of the schools they send their kids to, and the environment, and so on. Those are all good things in their own right.

    Choice works against an unresponsive system (public schools), so of course the proponents of public schools hate choice.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I wonder if any of the people complaining about Pitbull's oversexed and misogynist lyrics attended the Kennedy School of Government.

  • Paul.||

    lyrics are misogynistic and hyper-sexualized, education activists recently chastised Pitbull (actual name: Armando Christian Pérez) for lending his name and support to a new charter school in Miami, Florida.

    So Armando Perez open a school in Florida, women and minorities hardest hit?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I enjoyed Ravitch's The Language Police, so it's been sad to watch her slow decline into madness. Now she's reduced to gibbering ad homeniem attacks and screeching like the prune-faced harridans she mocked in The Language Police.

    Sad. So damn sad.

  • Whahappan?||

    Power corrupts, and the corrupt are drawn to power.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    If this isn't the school's alma mater, I'm very disappointed in all involved.

    Pitbull should know better.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Singapore is fuckin' great! Let's kill us some of 'em DOPERS!

    Libertarians unite!

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    From 2001-2003, Pitbull was an underground rapper whose lyrics focused on social issues in the Cuban-American community. In 2004, he had the bright idea to start rapping about how much he loves big titties and asses, after which he found great commercial success.

  • Calidissident||

    I'm not a huge Pitbull fan, but if you want to get hot young Latinas to shake their booties, put on that song. I won't complain

  • JidaKida||

    I dont think Jack Frapp Do Do is going to like that at all man.

    www.AnonWonders.tk

  • Almanian!||

    Pitbull Opens a Charter School; Critics Focus More on His Lyrics Than Kids’ Success

    So?

  • pan fried wylie||

    “How are we supposed to “outcompete” the globe by turning our children over to uneducated sports stars and rappers?”

    Seems to me rappers tend to be pretty skilled at being lucrative, a skill our children would do well to learn. Running successful businesses is key to our youth being competitive in the global marketplace. More so than a masters degree in gay literature.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement