Pitbull is working towards the opening of a charter school in Miami, Florida. The school, Sports Leadership and Management (SLAM), is scheduled to open Saturday (August 17), according to the school’s site.
Pitbull recently spoke about his decision to become involved with education at the 2013 National Charter Schools Conference, where he was a keynote speaker.
“I can speak from the heart when it comes to charter schools for the simple fact is that teachers have changed my life,” Pitbull told The Washington Post. “I had a second grade teacher that taught me that there is a way out and then I had an eleventh grade teacher who taught me to believe in myself and the talent that we didn’t even understand that we had at the time. So, that’s the same thing I want to do with the kids. Sometimes what happens is that education is no longer sexy. It’s no longer cool. I want to tell them or help put together either curriculum or schools where it does entertain them or engage them. One way or another [I want to] just make it fun again to learn. There’s no way that you can tackle any obstacle or any issue around the world if you’re not educated. My mother always told me that the biggest diseases in the world, the most dangerous, [were] ignorance and greed. That’s why we have to educate. That’s why I fight for it. That’s what I feel is the real revolution.”
Pitbull believes that his upbringing makes him qualified to help students of similar backgrounds in the Miami neighborhood in which he was raised.
“I don’t think you could find a better poster child for the simple fact that I did live it,” he said. “These kids can really relate. I’m not here trying to sell you something. I’m trying to tell you something. The difference is that. I could have a conversation like this with you right now and then go down to the kids from the old neighborhood and have a whole different conversation and they’re gonna understand me…That’s the only way I think that we’re gonna make a difference and make this revolution real, which is already happening.”
Pitbull was also asked to address President Barack Obama’s role in education.
“As far as what Barack Obama has done done on the education side,” Pitbull said, “I wouldn’t lie to you and say that I’ve followed it to that extent. But I can tell you what he’s done around the world. With me traveling around the world since, I would say, about ’06-’07, I saw what America was looked upon as around the world before and now how they’re looking at them. Big difference. He is the epitome, I would say the absolute of all, as a prime example of a person that fought his way through everything to be able to do what he is doing right now and become the first African American president of the United States of America.”
Charter schools are defined by the Florida Department of Education as being “tuition-free public schools created through an agreement or ‘charter’ between the school and the local school board or a state university. This agreement gives the charter school a measure of expanded freedom relative to traditional public schools in return for a commitment to higher standards of accountability. Since 1996, Florida charter schools have played a key role in increasing parental options in public education and providing innovative learning opportunities for students.”
Charter schools have been criticized because resources and students are often taken from public school districts and placed into charter schools, causing what critics view as negative effects to non-charter public institutions. Pitbull was asked about the criticism.
“Critics,” Pitbull said. “They must criticize, I would say. No? But men lie. women lie. Numbers don’t lie. Look at the numbers.”
Pitbull’s school, Sports Leadership and Management (SLAM), is slated to be run by Mater Academy and Academia. Mater Academy is a non-profit organization and Academia is a for-profit company. “The SLAM program is geared toward students who want to attend college and major in a sports-related field,” Mater Academy says on its website. “The tuition-free public charter school will use an innovative curriculum that will embed sports-related content into middle and high school courses and special projects, along with elective classes and guest lecturers.”