CASTLE ROCK – Union critics of the Douglas County School District (DCSD) appear to have found their next target: Hip-hop performer Pitbull.
And what has Pitbull, real name Armando Pèrez, done to draw the ire of the likes of Diane Ravitch and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Randi Weingarten?
It seems that “Mr. Worldwide’s” support for charter schools has earned him the criticism of union leaders.
Not only is Pèrez a charter school parent, he is also the founder of the Sports Leadership and Management (SLAM) charter school in the Little Havana area of Miami.
To teachers unions and their supporters, charter schools pose a significant threat. They offer families a choice other than the local district school — where the unions often have a firm stronghold. Charters schools generally prohibit teachers from unionizing as part of their charters.
Last year, DCSD terminated its contract with AFT’s local chapter, the Douglas County Federation of Teachers (DCFT), effectively ending the union’s power over the district.
This move brought Weingarten herself to Douglas County to rally the union troops.
Now Weingarten and other union supporters have apparently turned their sights on Pitbull.
Yesterday, both Ravitch and Weingarten promoted a blog post attacking Pitbull for his involvement in the charter school movement in his hometown of Miami, as well as for his commercial success and his anti-Castro stance.
Pitbull has used his commercial success and his influence with the youth of Miami in a positive way to promote the importance of education. He gave the opening remarks Monday morning at the 2013 National Charter Schools Conference in Washington, D.C., where he highlighted the importance of good teachers and school choice.
“I feel education is the real revolution,” said Pitbull, a child of parents who fled Cuba in order to give him a better life. “I stand with the millions of families today who simply want a good school for their kids.”
Ravitch also railed against Pitbull’s music, saying that it insults women and makes him an inappropriate speaker on education issues. She also called for other keynote speakers at the conference, Joel and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, to cancel their appearances.