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St. Paul's Successful Hip-Hop School

OPB | Sept. 22, 2011 9:40 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 10:39 p.m.

The collapse of Portland’s REAL Prep charter school has left parents, students, administrators, and teachers trying to figure out just what went wrong in the months leading up to the school’s proposed opening. Two weeks ago, Portland Public Schools (PPS) stepped in to prevent the school from opening, citing a critical lack of resources, teachers, and students. Blame has been cast at PPS, the board of REAL Prep, and the Department of Education. Some have criticized Portland Public Schools for approving the idea of a hip-hop school in the first place.

But the idea of a hip-hop school has successfully been tried before. The High School for Recording Arts (HSRA) in St. Paul, Minnesota pioneered the idea in the late 90s. In fact, HSRA initially partnered with REAL Prep before the schools split ways over creative differences a few months in to the contract.

Today we talk with Tony Simmons, Program Director at HSRA, to hear how that school managed to make its innovative curriculum work and how it overcame similar obstacles to those of REAL Prep.

What do you think of the idea of a hip-hop school? What questions do you have about its curriculum? Would you send your student to a hip-hop school?

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