No. 788



We have a routine here at our home each week that has gone on, week after week, for the past several years. This routine is set in motion when Viola says, “It’s blue barrel day” or “It’s green barrel day.” This tells me that it’s time for me to roll one of our two trash barrel containers out to the curb for a sanitation department truck to pick up and haul to the city landfill.
We have a great recycling program here in our community, and the blue barrel is used to place those items like cardboard, paper, plastic, newsprint and other items that can be recycled, and this also prolongs the life of our landfill for several years. The green barrel gets all the other household trash. It is hard to believe how much trash you can accumulate in just one week.
I have used this example to tell you about another kind of trash that may make its way to your public schools, if more of us don’t speak out or speak up. When I say public schools that means tax dollars are being spent and this means me, and I am sure you, too. The trash I am talking about is called “Flocabulary” and apparently is being used by many school districts around the country. Thanks to a thoughtful reader, the school district that has been using it that I heard about is in Oklahoma City, Okla. However, someone has pushed the “pause” button and I am not sure where it is at the time of this writing.
The program known as Flocabulary is a music-based educational tool that uses raps, rhythms and rhymes to help students learn and memorize everything from vocabulary and English to math and social studies. Sounds innocent enough, right? Let’s take a little closer look. One of the rap songs – “Old Dead White Men” chronicles the shortcomings of the early leaders of the United States. As a patriotic, taxpaying American, what if someone flung the following lyrics on you, “White men getting richer than Enron. They stepping on Indians, women and blacks. Era of Good Feeling doesn’t come with the facts.” Now that little ditty supposedly described the presidential term of James Monroe.
Here is another one that beats up on the term of President Andrew Jackson. “Andrew Jackson thinks he’s a tough guy. Killing more Indians than there are stars in the sky. Evil wars of Florida killing the Seminoles. Saying hello, putting Creek in the hell holes. Like Adolph Hitler he had the final solution. ‘No Indians, I don’t want you to live here anymore’.” Now, I don’t know about you, but when I think about our nation’s forefathers and especially the 55 signers of the Declaration of Independence who pledged “their fortunes, their lives and their sacred honor” for the cause of freedom, I am a little bit perturbed.
Flocabulary CEO and co-founder Alex Rappaport said the lyrics are made intentionally provocative and sometimes humorous to create student engagement among some of the toughest-to-reach students in the nation. My question is simply this: What do these students have when you reach them with trash like this?
Up to this point the Oklahoma City School District has spent about $10,000 on materials and the school board has authorized up to $97,000 in federal funds on the program. I have a good suggestion. They should dock the pay, each week for the next several years, of the Federal Coordinator who recommended this program until she pays it all back.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)