Thursday, September 9, 2010

Shadle teacher in hot water for distributing Blue Scholars lyrics

Posted By on Thu, Sep 9, 2010 at 11:05 AM

The Spokane School District says that they're not sure why an English teacher was using rap lyrics in the classroom. Whatever his reason, the teacher has been placed on paid administrative leave because of it.

The Inlander has discovered that the teacher is Bradley Read, a man who led Envision Spokane last year in its efforts to pass Proposition 4 (a citizen's initiative that tanked with voters). Spokane Schools have yet to release his name.

Read declined to comment on his situation at this time.

According to Spokane Schools spokeswoman Terren Roloff (who would not identify Read), the teacher handed out lyrics to the Blue Scholars' song "Commencement Day." She says it wasn't the controversial nature of the lyrics (the group criticizes the education system and gives a shout-out to underpaid teachers and students who don't quite fit the mold) that put him on paid leave — it was the profanity. The song says "F--k the Pledge of Allegiance," and says "shit" several times through the song. (Read the complete lyrics here.)

"We had a complaint about the profanity, so he was placed on that leave,"  Roloff says. "We are investigating that."

Roloff says that teachers often give lessons using materials that have been approved by the school district. This doesn't mean teachers can't use supplemental materials — like song lyrics — to aid in teaching.

"We have lots of supplemental materials," she says. "All materials are supposed to be approved whether they are main materials or supplemental materials."

Roloff pointed out that several other media outlets have said that a teacher has been suspended — that's not quite true.

"Suspension implies that you’ve done something wrong," she says. "We’re saying we put him on paid administrative leave. We didn’t take his pay away."

"Maybe there’s good reason, maybe it was in context," she says. "Maybe there was some fabulous reason for him doing that, but I don’t think so."

Readers: Do you find the lyrics offensive? Do they have any inherent educational value? Should Read have been put on leave?

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Leah Sottile

Leah Sottile is a Spokane-based freelance writer who formerly served as music editor, culture editor and a staff writer at the Inlander. She has written about everything from nuns and Elvis impersonators, to jailhouse murders and mental health...