Gangsta Grammar and Gun Free Zones

M. Catharine Evans
An unidentified Chesterfield, Virginia middle school teacher came under fire from a parent advocate when she assigned violent rap lyrics as part of a grammar lesson. On Friday Tammy Motola told a local radio host Chesterfield parents started burning up her inbox when their 11 year-olds’ schoolwork included lyrics by the rapper Lil Wayne.

The assignment entitled “Introduction to Similes and Metaphors Through the Lens of Rap Music” used lines from the song Ice Cream Paint Job. "Ice Cream" glorifies guns, sex and violence.

Along with the "N"-word, there is talk of gang banging and bending over women to have sex with them. Talk show host Jimmy Barrett remarked that playing even part of the song for his audience would be nearly impossible; there was not enough time for his producers to edit every other word. 

The teacher chose the following section and instructed the sixth-graders to come up with their own similes and metaphors.

Young Money, syrup in the big shot
Time do things that's word to your wrist watch
Shoot the glock till it burn till my wrist lock
Rims hella big tires skinny like Chris Rock

As of this past Friday, the teacher who seemed to have no problem with Lil Wayne’s "shoot the glock” reference while working in a "gun-free zone," was still in the classroom. A spokesperson for Chesterfield County schools released a statement saying the assignment had been scrapped and the issue had been addressed. 

But here’s more irony. Like many other districts across the country, Chesterfield County has a rigid zero tolerance policy for students when it comes to guns, gun-talk, weapons, verbal threats, sexual misconduct and violent ideation.

Just last May an 8-year old Chesterfield student brought a small folding knife to school. Police charged him with possession of a weapon on school property. 

Nat Hentoff of the Cato Institute says he has “a bulging file” of zero tolerance disciplinary actions from one coast to the other which punish kids for harmless stuff like tossing spit wads or making a gun out of a pop tart. 

Ms. Motola agrees. She pointed out that students are subject to suspension, expulsion and police prosecution for one-size-fits-all infractions when it comes to discipline while the Chesterfield teacher receives minor reprimands. 

From preschool through 12th grade  police, teachers and school officials are sending the message to our children that only the State has the right to have guns and  the right to dole out punishment arbitrarily. What else are children learning from this crackdown on sporks as weapons and pop tart guns at the same time the adults in their classrooms pass out gangsta rap disguised as grammar lessons?

What about the double standard where  rappers with criminal histories are invited to the White House for poetry sessions while kids as young as six undergo interrogation for making a gun sign with their hand?

There should be zero tolerance for Language Arts teachers who use rappers with long rap sheets like Lil Wayne to teach English. Why target children for playing innocent good-guy, bad- guy games with toy guns when their teachers promote real violence sung by real criminals? 

An unidentified Chesterfield, Virginia middle school teacher came under fire from a parent advocate when she assigned violent rap lyrics as part of a grammar lesson. On Friday Tammy Motola told a local radio host Chesterfield parents started burning up her inbox when their 11 year-olds’ schoolwork included lyrics by the rapper Lil Wayne.

The assignment entitled “Introduction to Similes and Metaphors Through the Lens of Rap Music” used lines from the song Ice Cream Paint Job. "Ice Cream" glorifies guns, sex and violence.

Along with the "N"-word, there is talk of gang banging and bending over women to have sex with them. Talk show host Jimmy Barrett remarked that playing even part of the song for his audience would be nearly impossible; there was not enough time for his producers to edit every other word. 

The teacher chose the following section and instructed the sixth-graders to come up with their own similes and metaphors.

Young Money, syrup in the big shot
Time do things that's word to your wrist watch
Shoot the glock till it burn till my wrist lock
Rims hella big tires skinny like Chris Rock

As of this past Friday, the teacher who seemed to have no problem with Lil Wayne’s "shoot the glock” reference while working in a "gun-free zone," was still in the classroom. A spokesperson for Chesterfield County schools released a statement saying the assignment had been scrapped and the issue had been addressed. 

But here’s more irony. Like many other districts across the country, Chesterfield County has a rigid zero tolerance policy for students when it comes to guns, gun-talk, weapons, verbal threats, sexual misconduct and violent ideation.

Just last May an 8-year old Chesterfield student brought a small folding knife to school. Police charged him with possession of a weapon on school property. 

Nat Hentoff of the Cato Institute says he has “a bulging file” of zero tolerance disciplinary actions from one coast to the other which punish kids for harmless stuff like tossing spit wads or making a gun out of a pop tart. 

Ms. Motola agrees. She pointed out that students are subject to suspension, expulsion and police prosecution for one-size-fits-all infractions when it comes to discipline while the Chesterfield teacher receives minor reprimands. 

From preschool through 12th grade  police, teachers and school officials are sending the message to our children that only the State has the right to have guns and  the right to dole out punishment arbitrarily. What else are children learning from this crackdown on sporks as weapons and pop tart guns at the same time the adults in their classrooms pass out gangsta rap disguised as grammar lessons?

What about the double standard where  rappers with criminal histories are invited to the White House for poetry sessions while kids as young as six undergo interrogation for making a gun sign with their hand?

There should be zero tolerance for Language Arts teachers who use rappers with long rap sheets like Lil Wayne to teach English. Why target children for playing innocent good-guy, bad- guy games with toy guns when their teachers promote real violence sung by real criminals?