The Global Awareness through Hip Hop Culture Program is an award winning, UC approved, college-preparatory music, language arts and social studies class designed to assist students in developing their language skills, life skills and global awareness through culturally responsive pedagogy. The Global Awareness through Hip Hop Culture Program is designed for students between the ages of 14 to 19.
It can be offered as:
• a year-long course
• after school program
• summer program
• workshop series
• or any other format
Why It Was Created: Inner-city high schools across the nation are facing a crisis. African-American, Hispanic, and low-income students are the most affected with national graduation rate widely accepted at approximately 50%. About 12% of the nation’s 20,000 high schools produce almost three- quarters of its minority dropouts.
In 2004, Los Angeles and New York City, which have the nation’s largest school districts, graduated a little over 45% of their students. That same year, Detroit, had a 24.9% graduation rate. Even more alarming is the fact that for many of the students who do graduate, “The average African American or Hispanic 12th grader has lower basic skills than the average white eighth grader.”
Poverty, unemployment, gangs and lack of parental involvement have often been recognized as contributing factors to this educational meltdown. However, for all of the research and statistical data, the problems persist and the same questions are asked:
• How can we make students understand the need and value of education?
• How can we close the achievement gap?
• How can students be motivated to learn?
With all the good will in the world, systemic flaws are nearly impossible to rectify without facing an overwhelming barrage of red tape, budgetary constraints, bureaucracy and resistance to change from the administrators themselves. If that weren’t difficult enough, how do we deal with the treacherous psychosocial conditions that attack the spirits and minds of our youth everyday, beyond the confines of school grounds? From this standpoint, the situation appears hopeless.
However, it is not. In an early 2005 address to leaders of the Education Commission of the States, Susan Sclafani, assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Education stated that, “Students must have arts…and that schools must include the arts as part of the curriculum if students are going to reach the high levels of achievement required by the NCLB federal policy.”
In 2006, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation published a report titled “A Silent Epidemic – Perspectives of High School Dropouts”. This research was based on a series of focus groups and surveys conducted with high school dropouts in 25 different locations across the U.S.
The results were surprising.
• Forty-seven percent said that a major reason for dropping out was that classes were not interesting.
• Sixty-nine percent said they were not motivated or inspired to work hard.
• Seventy-one percent said their schools did not do enough to make school interesting.
The same year, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell issued a news release on an L.A. Times Series on the high school dropout problem in which he stated, “The only way Californians will succeed in this demanding age is by improving our educational system and finding ways to connect with students who do not feel invested in attending school.”
One of the ways to connect with students, who do not feel invested in their education, lies in profoundly understanding the “new urban teen psychology” which stems from overexposure to a combination of modern psychosocial conditioning, pop culture, and media influence. Another way to connect with students is to create partnerships with community-based entities that possess a solid grasp on issues affecting urban youth and who have developed specialized methods to address these concerns effectively within a school setting.
The Global Awareness through Hip Hop Culture Program was created to make these connections.