What I am going to share in this column can best be described as “the big city has come to the country, and at least some in the country don’t like it.” And I might say up front, that I am one of them.
A few weeks ago I got an e-mail from Jason Gilmore, senior auditor of the Defense Contract Audit Agency branch office in Fort Walton Beach. This is a branch of the federal government, and I am sure what he had to say was troubling. It is also the reason I have done something I seldom do, and that is to revisit a topic I have covered in the past. I will also say here in the beginning that Jason has given me permission to quote him.
First, please allow me to share his e-mail so you will know what I am talking about, and then I will make what I believe will be some appropriate comments. It begins, “Mr. Davidson, I came across an article you wrote on July 30, 2011, titled, ‘Have you heard of Flocabulary?’ I am writing to you in hopes you will revisit the issue and provide an update for all your readers. It recently came to my attention that this garbage is being used in my son’s elementary school (relatively rural conservative county, in Northwest Florida.) The parents and kids were provided with a general username and password to access the site. When I began reading the lyrics to many of the rap songs I was shocked and appalled!
“I contacted my son’s teacher, reading coach and principal and they reacted to the lyrics with shock and dismay (which may have been just for show.) They have since removed access to the website with the general username and password. They informed me they were in contact with Flocabulary’s administrator to attempt to block some of the content. Blocking some of the content is unacceptable, as this garbage has NO place in our school system at any level for any reason. I have tried to search the Internet for outrage over Flocabulary and, to my dismay, all the search engines are relatively silent on the issue. I am certain that the search engines have the same agenda as Flocabulary, but I digress. I came across your column on page 2 of the search engine Ask.com.
“According to Flocabulary’s website, ‘Flocabulary is now used in more than 15,000 schools and reaches a weekly audience of 5 million students.’ This is a VERY troubling statistic! Once again, I am writing to you in hopes you will revisit the subject and provide additional insights to your readers. If you have any questions please contact me.”
After reading and rereading his message I went to Flocabulary’s website to verify what he was telling me. I also went to www.wikipedia.com, the free encyclopedia, to study the origin of this movement. In short, it came from a culture that began in the 1970s in New York City and found expression in hip-hop music.
In its infancy, hip-hop music was described as an outlet and a “voice” for the disenfranchised youth of low economic areas, as the culture reflected the social, economic and political realities of their lives. The real question for me becomes, do we really want this to be taught, through rap music, to the children of America in our public schools? If you want changes to be made, talk with your school board members, as they are elected to represent taxpayers and patrons. One thing is for sure, our children deserve the best.
(Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)