September 9, 2010 in City

Song lyrics weren’t authorized for classroom use

Teacher believed to be Brad Read
By The Spokesman-Review
 
More online

• Lyrics to “Commencement Day,” by Blue Scholars. (Some profanity)

Off-color language, not an indictment of the educational system contained in a hip-hop song, was the reason a Shadle Park High School teacher was placed on leave after he distributed the song’s lyrics to his class, a school district spokeswoman said today.

What’s more, the lyrics hadn’t been approved by the school district, which is required for all supplemental materials, Spokane Public Schools spokeswoman Terren Roloff said.

Roloff would not identify the teacher, but at Shadle Park High School, he is widely believed to be Brad Read, a popular English teacher who was president of the Envision Spokane board, which sponsored a Community Bill of Rights ballot initiative that failed at the polls last November.

Reached at home, Read declined to be interviewed.

The song in question is “Commencement Day” by the Seattle duo Blue Scholars.

The lyrics include profane terms for sexual intercourse and defecation.

Literary works such as “The Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger, contain the same profanity, but have been approved by the district because of the context in which they are used, Roloff said.

The school district placed the teacher on paid administrative leave pending an investigation of a complaint against him by its human resources department, Roloff said.

Blue Scholars said on its Twitter account that the group “recently got an e-mail from a student in Spokane.”

“A teacher at Shadle Park HS was suspended for playing our song ‘Commencement Day’ in class,” the group tweeted.

Roloff stressed that the teacher was not suspended, but placed on paid leave.

Prometheus Brown, emcee for Blue Scholars, posted on his personal Twitter account that other students in the class contacted him and that he was going to “find out more info and find a way to support this fine educator.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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