A Queens mom working at home was outraged to discover that her son’s Zoom economics class at a Brooklyn high school consisted of rap videos featuring drug deals, prostitutes and vulgar language, including the N-word.
The mom got so upset during the lesson on “money, power and respect,” she grabbed her son’s laptop and yelled at Deyate Hagood, a social studies teacher at A-TECH High School in Williamsburg, for wasting valuable instructional time.
“You honestly ought to be motherf–king embarrassed. Disgusting!” she shouted at Hagood, infuriated by the videos and lame discussion.
When Hagood told her, “I don’t like how you’re speaking to me,” she shot back: “You have rap videos using N-words, talking about whores and bitches and selling drugs. I’m working from home, and this is what I’m hearing my kid in his senior year learning in class.”
The clash — which was videotaped by the son — shines a light on what the mom called “lazy” remote instruction in a low-performing NYC high school, and the plight of teens stuck on screens but learning little during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’ve had to watch my high-school senior spend an entire year at home in isolation while receiving a very limited education,” said the Queens mom, who asked to remain anonymous to protect her son from retribution.
“He has been unmotivated and now only talks about wanting to leave NYC.”
A-TECH changed its name from Automotive HS, one of the schools in Mayor de Blasio’s infamous Renewal program to fix failing schools, which he aborted in 2018. Enrollment has plummeted from nearly 1,000 students in 2010 to 304 — mostly boys, 91 percent black and Hispanic.
The four-year graduation rate is 70 percent, and only 33 percent of grads are deemed ready for career or college, according to city Department of Education data.
The Queens mom, an executive assistant with a younger son in middle school, said her 12th-grader did not have a book or syllabus for the economics class, telling her the teacher usually showed videos.
In the Feb. 24 class, Hagood played two hip-hop videos — “C.R.E.A.M,” which stands for “Cash Rules Everything Around Me” by Wu-Tang Clan, and “Money, Power, Respect” by The Lox.
The C.R.E.A.M lyrics start with “What that n—a want God? Word up, look out for the cops. .. Word up, two for fives over here baby. Word up, two for fives them n—-s got garbage down the way, word up.”
“Two for fives” was a 90s’ term for crack cocaine sales, two vials for $5.
In the Lox video, an apparent prostitute in black lingerie starts the rap: “First you get the money. Then you get the muthaf—in, power. After you get the f—in’ power muthaf—s will respect you.”
Hagood tried to drum up a class discussion.
“Are they saying money gives you some sort of status? Do you think people who have money have power, too? Is that something we can say?”
He had to push students to respond. “Someone? Anyone? You’re supposed to be my smart class.”
At one point Hagood pressed, “What are they trying to say in the video?’
A student answered, “I don’t know, you got to be a drug dealer to have money, power and respect.”
Hagood countered, “Just that? Is that a beneficial way to live our lives, though?”
The mom called the lesson “pathetic.”
“I regret losing my cool and cursing,” she said on Facebook, where she posted a video of the Zoom class, “but I’ve honestly had it with the stress of no (in-person) school, working from home and the guilt of knowing my kids have not been learning the way they should be.
“I’m really angry and sad for the kids. I hate that I can’t trust what is being shown and taught, and that my kids have lost so much learning.”
She said her 12th-grader hopes to go to college in Florida.
“You can use this video on your college application to let them know why you have to get out of New York City, and why you really need an education,” she told him during the class.
She said the class raised questions: “Who is actually accountable for what these children are being taught? Is anyone watching and documenting what lessons are being given and by whom?”
A-TECH principal Neil Harris did not answer an email seeking comment. Hagood did not return a message.
DOE spokeswoman Katie O’Hanlon said, “Two iconic songs were used as part of a 12th-grade lesson about economics, and the teacher provided appropriate context prior to streaming them.”
O’Hanlon would not explain the purpose of the lesson or the videos. She claimed the school had received no complaints from students or parents — despite the Queens mom complaining directly to Hagood.
The mom, who describes herself as Latina and whose son is also of Irish descent, could not say whether the teacher used the videos to appeal to students of color.
“I don’t think it matters what color you are,” she said. “This is a classroom, albeit virtual, and you should be teaching something valuable. These kids are supposed to be preparing for college, and this isn’t helpful to them.”