Students at a Southaven, Miss. middle school were educated in the “Big Pimpin’” thug life of Jay-Z, and the school district can’t imagine why anyone would object to lessons on reading, writing and rapping.
Sixth graders at Desoto Central Middle School spent three days learning about one of the most successful hip-hop artists and entrepreneurs in the nation. They were also tested on their knowledge about Jay-Z’s “resilience.”
A parent, who had a son in the English class, reached out to me – and she’s fired up. The mad mom asked to remain anonymous over fears of repercussions. I was able to verify her claims and have agreed to provide anonymity.
“One of the songs listed on the paper that was brought home was ‘Big Pimpin’,” she told me. “Another song talked about thug life. My child was getting an education about thug life.”
She could not believe that her child was learning about a man who sings songs that degrade women and glorify the thug life.
“When he pulled out the paper in his backpack in the car, I called my husband right then,” she told me. “I was furious. We talked about it until late that night. My husband was about to blow his top.”
I called the principal to get his side of the story, but he said he didn’t want to talk to me. Instead, he referred me to the superintendent’s office.
Eventually, I was told to contact their official spokesperson.
The spokesperson told me she could not understand why Fox News was interested in a simple classroom assignment. She said she would send an official statement but declined to go on the record. I’m still waiting for the “official statement.”
The child’s parents had a similar experience. They contacted the school – hoping to get some answers. Instead, they got the brush-off.
“They made it sound like it was no big deal,” the mom told me. “They said the point of the assignment was because Jay-Z is successful.”
She said one school official even chimed in that the rapper owns a professional sports team.
“I asked him what that had to do with anything,” the parent told me. “Let’s talk about somebody that is a success that has done good things – not thug life things.”
Using the school’s logic, the mom wondered why the school doesn’t assign lessons on Hugh Hefner or Larry Flynt.
“Either way, it’s all the same,” she said.
She said the same school official told her that no matter who they assigned the kids to learn about – that person would have something negative in their past.
“We are conservative,” she said. “We are Christian. And this was brought into my house. That’s why I was so furious. It was a moral issue.”
The little boy’s father was so livid that the school brushed off his wife he decided to write a letter to the school district:
“The page sent home was an eye-opener and I refuse to have my son subjected to today’s version on what should be accepted as okay and normal without knowing the facts,” the dad wrote.
“The facts are this page represented this thug in a positive way and calls him successful. Success to me doesn’t mean demeaning women, glorifying drugs and violence and flaunting money. Success should be about living decent and having respect for themselves and others.”
And to put an exclamation point on his reasoning, the dad included the lyrics to a Jay-Z song. I’d love to share some of those lyrics with you – but I’ve got standards. Let’s just say, Jay-Z has an affinity for the F-word and the B-word.
Heather Fox is not surprised to learn about the three-day Jay-Z lecture at the middle school. She runs a Facebook page called “Desoto County Reform” – an online gathering place for parents concerned about the school district.
“Hopefully we can address the issues that most people are afraid to address out loud,” she told me. “The school district is not happy about our website.”
“We know there are students at the high school who’ve had to read explicit books,” she said. “And now we know about the Jay-Z class.”
Fox said the sixth grade assignment was not age appropriate.
“A lot of the kids don’t know anything about the things that surround Jay-Z – it’s something that a lot of parents are concerned about,” Fox said. “Why make them exposed to it at such an early age?”
It’s really unfortunate that the school superintendent won’t talk to me about the assignment. I’d love to hear his side of the story. But the school district’s silence makes me a bit suspicious.
If there’s nothing wrong with the assignment, what’s there to hide? Why brush off a concerned parent who has a valid concern about what her child is learning?
The mom told me the school made a “bad, bad choice” – and now she and her husband are about to make a choice.
“It really makes me want to either send him to a private school or homes school,” she said.
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is "God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values." Follow Todd on Twitter@ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.