Move over, Schoolhouse Rock. Today the NY Times has an interesting piece today on how using rap to teach Regents History classes to New York's high schoolers has led to significant leaps in performance. Fresh Prep, a program run by the Urban Arts Partnership, is putting their instructors in the classrooms of seven high-poverty high schools in hopes that students will help them fill in the blanks in their otherwise prodigious flow. "The way land is shaped is topography / Mountains isolate, a harbor is by the sea / Geography affects the economy / Along with the climate environmentally," goes one song. Hey, maybe we don't blame them for deliberately skipping words.
Many students in the program are not even of the demographic one would expect to enjoy rap. This summer, Fresh Prep is teaching at Gregorio Luperon High School for Science and Mathematics in Washington Heights, where students are so new to English that they normally prepare for and take the History Regents in Spanish. Though some students balked ("Why not set the history to meringue, or perico ripiao, a Dominican form of that art? "), many others felt they had learned a lot, and the DOE teacher stood by translating the concepts. (With its $400,000 in donations, Fresh Prep tries to put one of their own instructors in every classroom, rather than trying to teach neophyte teachers how to freestyle).
In related news, there is now a Regents cheating probe being launched at four city high schools, which are accused of inflating their Regents scores to boost graduation rates. Where's the rap about corruption among those in power?!