The controversial charter school movement has an unlikely advocate.
Pitbull, a rapper known for explicit lyrics and a tough-guy image, opened a new public charter school this fall in Miami’s Little Havana. Located just down the street from the Marlin’s ballpark, the Sports Leadership and Management Academy (SLAM) aims to use sports to interest kids who aren’t necessarily enamored with school.
“In order to produce college bound and career-oriented graduates, the school believes it must provide Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships in the educational program,” reads a statement on SLAM Miami’s website, which adds that students, who range from sixth to twelfth grade, learn sports management, sports broadcasting and sports medicine.
Pitbull, whose given name is Armando Christian Pérez, told NPR that the school’s sports theme is a way to hook kids for whom school might otherwise be boring.
The rapper can relate.
He told NPR that the principal of his last school was so desperate to get rid of him, he gave him a diploma so he wouldn’t have to see him again.
While some have been critical of a rapper who used to deal drugs as a teenager serving as a role model for struggling kids, advocates say Pitbull’s back story provides inspiration.
"Whether it's Pitbull or Meryl Streep in Rhode Island or Sandra Bullock in Louisiana," Nina Reese, who heads the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, told NPR, "charters do benefit from celebrities because public schools, they do have to market themselves to families because these are schools of choice."
What do you think? Would you send your kid to Pitbull’s new school?
Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.