State official criticizes Columbia public schools for using music videos in class




A representative for the state of Missouri on Monday called the use of a video clip in an advanced placement class at Hickman High School “inappropriate” and called on the superintendent to resign.

State Representative Chuck Basye (R-Rocheport) said parents complained to him about an American studies class using Childish Gambino’s “This is America” ​​video in class . Basye said the video features “gun violence, murder, inappropriate use of guns and drug use.” Basye said Superintendent Brian Yearwood and the CPS had not done enough to address parents’ concerns.

“Considering the fact that Dr Yearwood is either unaware of the material taught in his schools, or blatantly lies, it is clear that he is not fit to continue as a superintendent,” said Basye. “Immediate change is needed to improve the educational environment so that it is suitable for young people. “

The video for Childish Gambino, the musical stage name of Donald Glover, was released in 2018. The video shows Glover shooting several people. Video director Hiro Murai told The New York Times it was made with “global weariness” and in reaction to “what’s going on in the world.”

An email from Hickman director Tony Gragnani to Basye said students in the AP US Studies class had the opportunity to examine one of the four items to “analyze the author’s point of view.” This included the video for Gambino, as well as “I Hear America Sing” by Walt Whitman, “Let America Be America Again” by Langston Hughes and “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie. Gragnani said students weren’t forced to choose an option and the analysis was only for discussion and not for a grade.

“The teacher received a warning through the linked video that the video contained violence,” Gragnani said. “While this is consistent with similar messages we have used for other material containing gun violence (ie text written like ‘The Things They Carried’ and ‘The Crucible’), j informed the teacher that a more descriptive disclaimer was needed. “

Basye said he believes Gragnani downplayed concerns about the use of video in the classroom.

CPS spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said Basye did not contact the district before sending her press release on the video. She said Basye had not yet tried to contact Yearwood to meet since he started in July.

“At Columbia Public Schools, we value trust, integrity, transparency, collaboration, empathy and grace,” Baumstark said. As such, we will choose the path of empathy and grace with regards to Representative Basye’s announcement. We believe in kindness to others and our top priority is our academics. We will remain focused on doing doing our best every day to support our academics and their future success. “

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