Give the Children Music: Inspiring Our Youth Through Hip Hop
Charles Howard, Huffington Post, February 26, 2011

During the month of February, cries of disappointment in our education system have been made by a number of Philadelphia youth. In one neighborhood, students staged a walk-out in an effort to get their voices heard over what they see as a long list of unacceptable conditions in their high school — a list that includes a high teacher turnover rate and being on their third principal this school year.

Students in another school struggle to find inspiration to study under a curriculum that has produced a 30 percent graduation rate with only 10 percent of their senior class enrolling in college.

Healing the school systems of our cities is a complex issue that will take a committed and coordinated effort from a number of institutions addressing curriculum, health, public safety, poverty, funding, testing mandates, teacher motivation, family life and much more. At the center of the problem, as exemplified above, is that students do not feel that they are being heard.

Instead of institutions of learning, many public schools have become places where students find themselves uninspired. This speaks to a glaring need of our children: a place where their voices can be heard and a place where they can be inspired.

Our urban youth are still inspired by at least one thing: Music. Specifically, the music and lifestyle associated with Hip Hop culture. Hip Hop is a beautiful thing. Being born in the cradle of the genre and youth movement in the late 1970s, it has been an ever present soundtrack to my life. At its core, Hip Hop is a critical, creative, prophetic, dialogical space — an open “cipha” where all have a voice. A place where reality and inspiration pop, lock and break, daring you to get out of your seat and move.

Nathan Jones and his colleagues at The CODA Program seem to think that Hip Hop can also be a part of the solution of urban educational struggles by providing a place for kids to speak, be heard, and be inspired.  (Read more)