When I look at the academy proposed by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, two things stand out – the location and the approach.
They plan to open the school in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest school district in the nation. The district serves a population that is 74% Latino and 10% Black.
More specifically in terms of location, Dre and Iovine plan to launch the academy in Leimert Park, the Black cultural hub in Los Angeles. Leimert Park is a predominately Black community with 72% of the population identifying as African American and about 16% identifying as Latino.
The decision to open the school in Leimert Park demonstrates a need to provide innovative educational opportunities and experiences for all students, but specifically Black and Latino youth. Further, the academy, which will be a part of Los Angeles Unified School District, demonstrates a commitment to supporting groups that have been marginalized in education. Statistics show that 80% of students currently live at or below the poverty line. The academy will be positioned to enroll students who may have limited access to quality school experiences as a result of their social status.
Most schools tend to teach subjects in isolation. This approach doesn’t encourage students to see connections between various content areas. The proposed school in Los Angeles will be interdisciplinary, much like hip-hop itself.
Hip-hop has five creative elements (MC, break dancing, graffiti art, DJ and knowledge of self) that capture various disciplines and create a culture that has real-life applications that young people participate in, interrogate and experience.
Incorporating music into science can help students understand science’s real-life applications. Peter Muller/Getty Images
For instance, students can engage in science and mathematics applications of music production. They might study certain principles behind recording music, such as amplitude and frequency, and how altering those two things can change the entire sound of the song. Adding entrepreneurship provides a way for students to make a living based on their understanding and experiences with music.
Educational benefits to interdisciplinary teaching include gains in the ability to recognize bias, think critically and tolerate ambiguity, as well as acknowledge and appreciate ethical concerns.