Published September 19, 2013
Fourth grade students in Vermilion Parish, La. were given a homework assignment that included words like “Po Pimp” and “mobstaz,” but school officials said the worksheet was age appropriate based on an education website affiliated with Common Core education standards.
“I try to instill values in my son,” parent Brittney Badeaux told Fox News. “My goal is for him to ultimately to become a great man, a family man, a well-rounded man. And now my son wants to know what a pimp is.”
Badeaux was helping her 9-year-old son with his homework when she heard him say the words “Po Pimp” and “mobstaz.”
“I couldn’t believe it at first – hearing him read it to me,” she told Fox News. “So I looked at the paper and read the entire article. It was filled with Ebonics.”
The worksheet, obtained by Fox Radio affiliate KPEL provided contextual examples of the word “twist.” It included references to tornadoes and the 1950’s dance craze – the “Twist.”
But it also included a paragraph about “Twista” – a rapper with the group Speedknot Mobstaz who performs a single titled, “Po-Pimp.”
“It was really inappropriate for my child,” Badeaux said. “He doesn’t’ know what a pimp or mobster is.”
She also took issue with the school sending home a worksheet that intentionally misspelled words.
“I try to teach him morals and respect and to speak correctly,” she said. “It’s hard for a fourth grader to understand Ebonics when you’re trying to teach him how to spell and write correctly.”
Vermilion Parish School Superintendent Jerome Puyau told Fox News the “po-pimp” assignment was aligned to a fourth grade English Language Arts standard for Common Core.
“Out of context, this word is inappropriate,” Puyau said. “However, within the Common Core standards, they do want us to discuss real world texts.”
The Common Core State Standards initiative is a plan devised by the nation’s governors and backed by the Obama administration to set a uniform standard for grades K-12. In practice, it will ensure that every child in the nation reaches the same level of learning. So far, 45 states have agreed to use Common Core – including Louisiana.
“The Common Core curriculum, like it or not – we have to make our students successful,” the superintendent said. “We know that in New York proficiency in state testing was very low. We foresee that our students will not be successful unless with align everything to the common core standards.”
And that’s why fourth graders were learning about pimps and mobstaz.
“We want them to read real world texts,” he said. “We know they will go into a department store and see an album with that language on it. We know that will happen. But is that something they should be reading in the schools?”
Puyau conceded the actual paragraph in the assignment was not appropriate for 9-year-olds – even though Common Core-affiliated education site said it was.
“We are going to edit and audit everything that comes through,” he said. “In southwest Louisiana we do have high morals. We’re going to utilize everything that we have to ensure our parents that what they are reading is appropriate to grade level.”
Puyau said he takes full responsibility as the superintendent for what happened – but stressed that according to the Common Core standards – the material was age appropriate.
He said there is even more material out there that would cause parents to raise eyebrows and Badeaux said she heard something similar from her son’s teacher.
“The teacher told me this was the best of the worst of the curriculum that was provided to her,” she said. “We’re not even two months into school. What are they trying to teach him?”
Regardless, the superintendent said the pimp lesson provides a teachable moment for parents and teachers.
“These teachable moments are great to have,” he said.
But try telling that to the mom who had to explain what a pimp is to her 9-year-old son.
“My son doesn’t know what pimps and mobstaz are!” wrote concerned mother Brittney Badeaux in an email to Hot 107.9′s DJ Digital. “I don’t condone ebonics at his young age.”
“I try to teach my son respect and morals,” Badeaux said. “My goal everyday (sic) is for him to become better for tomorrow and ultimately grow into a great man!”
Vermilion Parish School Superintendent Jerome Puyau said the worksheet is in accordance with Common Core standards adopted by Louisiana.
“Part of the Common Core is what they call ‘real-world text,’” Puyau explained. “What are our students reading?”
“Are these students going to see this on the shelves in our department stores?” he continued. “And the answer is yes. If you search it, the first thing that comes up is the actual song [“Po Pimp”]. This is real-world.”
Puyau said the worksheet was pulled from an education website that aligns itself with Common Core standards.
“The Twist” was controversial in the 50s, Puyau noted, and even the Harry Potter books once raised controversy in his district when a librarian wouldn’t stock the series because of its focus on witchcraft.
The album “Kamikaze,” also mentioned under the rapper’s description, refers to suicide pilots, Puyau said, but this word is taught in history classes.
Badeaux also raised concerns about a similar text exercise that included a detailed description of how a machine gun works. But Puyau stressed that Vermilion Parish teachers review the content distributed to students, and it’s consistently in alignment with Common Core standards.
“We want to make sure that our students have an understanding and teaching of real-world life experiences through words, but there are teachable moments for parents, and there are teachable moments for us as educators.”