Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Pitbull Wants To Be Just Like Bill (Cosby, Gates & Clinton)

Pitbull opened the 2013 National Alliance of Public Charter Schools Conference with what he referred to as his "first major speech."  

According to the Washington Post, he was introduced by none other than Fernando Zulueta, President of Academica, the for-profit charter management organization that will run Pitbull's charter school, SLAM.  The Miami Herald called Academica Florida's richest charter school management firm.
Academica’s achievements have been profitable. The South Miami company receives more than $9 million a year in management fees just from its South Florida charter schools — fees that ultimately come from public tax dollars.
But the Zuluetas’ greatest financial success is largely unseen: Through more than two dozen other companies, the Zuluetas control more than $115 million in South Florida real estate — all exempt from property taxes as public schools — and act as landlords for many of Academica’s signature schools, records show.
Pitbull thanked "Ferny" for his introduction. So Pitbull is tight enough with Academica president Fernando Zulueta to call him "Ferny."

"Ferny" is making a KILLING on charter schools, and with Pitbull as his spokesmodel in Florida, I am sure he is quite confident the money will just keep rolling on in.

Pitbull opened his speech with a joke to break the ice. 
"I know you guys might be thinking, 'What is Pitbull doing here today?' 
I'm thinking the same thing... 
But speaking of that, they told me that Bill Cosby has spoken here before, which I think is amazing. Somebody that I really relate to. I also love Jello.
Ha ha! I'm just getting started!
Bill Gates; phenomenal, incredible. I relate to Bill Gates.  We're both very... good looking. 
*wink at audience*
And Bill Clinton. You know, I really relate to Bill Clinton... (laughs from audience)  We're both musicians."
In that single joke, Pitbull equates himself with Bill Cosby's product endorsements, Bill Gate's money, and Bill Clinton's womanizing.

That really is what Pitbull is all about, isn't it?  Endorsements, money and women....

But, if you're willing to believe it, the Zulueta's, with the help of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS), want us to believe that Pitbull is about education, too.

Except, THAT part of his speech didn't sound like it was coming from the heart.  Even Pitbull didn't seem to think the audience would buy it. As he launched into the written part of his speech he sort of slipped.
Everyday I see firsthand....
...and this is the truth. It may sound a little written, but it's not, I promise you, OK? This is everything that we put together.
Everyday I see firsthand... how many children are becoming highly motivated life-long learners thanks to educators in the charter schools they attend. (emphasis mine)
The rest of Pitbull's speech is an odd mish-mash of him reading reformy sounding lines like that one from the speech 'they' put together, and a more natural free-style riffing that seemed more genuine.

But it looks like at one point his free-style may have gotten a bit too spicy.  At about the 7:50 mark you'll notice he says he's going to quote from one of his songs and the video is quickly edited. Maybe he slipped into some of the less savory lyrics Jersey Jazzman has been posting?

It's just hard to buy into Pitbull's transformation from Hustler to Charter Advocate.  But then again, even his bio on the NAPCS website is all about the numbers he can bring in.
Miami-native Armando Pérez (Pitbull)—also known as "Mr. Worldwide" and "Mr. 305"—is a globally successful musician, performer, business entrepreneur, fashion icon and actor whose career sales exceed 5 million albums and 40 million singles worldwide. Pitbull has had #1 hits in more than 15 countries and his videos have been viewed more than 3 billion times. His world tour sold out concerts in Latin America, Canada and Europe, before bringing the party to the United States, Japan and Australia. 
Mr. Pérez’s commercial success has solidified his influence in his hometown community. He is making the most of his position as a civic leader in Miami by opening the Sports Leadership and Management (SLAM) charter school for youth of the city. 
But now we're just supposed to believe that Pitbull isn't about fame and fortune, and is only in it for the kids.  Except there's this:
He’s one of the most aggressive celebrity product and brand endorsers, having struck deals with Kodak, Dr. Pepper, Sheets energy strips, and several other brands. Guided by brand manager Daymond John, the founder of the FUBU clothing line and the star of the ABC Show “Shark Tank,” Pitbull actively searches out companies to align with, often with the goal of endorsing products in exchange for equity in the companies.  He receives stock for some endorsements and gets upfront cash payments for others. (emphasis mine)
Yeah, see, I don't buy it. 

This charter school thing is just another product for Pitbull to cash in on.  His good friend "Ferny" is making a killing on charters, raking in millions of tax-free tax dollars! There's no way Pitbull's not jumping into the charter school hustle in "exchange for equity" in Academica.

But he certainly can't come out and say that. Instead, we get this.
"I'm involved with charter schools to help bring more choices to more students across the nation. I'm involved so that children can enjoy the same benefits that mine do. That's why I'm working with my friend to open SLAM. A charter school in Miami in the inner city where I grew up. I've had the chance to live all over Miami; good neighborhoods, bad neighborhoods, the worst neighborhoods. If they want to label it the inner city, I relate to it, I understand it, and it taught me almost everything I know and allowed me to adapt to any environment.(emphasis mine)
I am sure it has been no problem for Pitbull to 'adapt' to the role of charter advocate. And I'm sure "Ferny" knows that Pitbull will draw countless new students into his charters. And more schools means more buildings, and more buildings means more money.  

Just listen to how the people of Miami talk about Pitbull.
Pitbull is Miami’s favorite son. Cab drivers can tell you the son of Cuban immigrants’ entire history growing up in a single-parent home in Miami. “Pitbull is a man of the streets,” one American-Cuban cab driver told us. “Nobody gave him nothing. He did it on his own.” A few weeks later at a reception overlooking the Miami skyline at the Franchise Expo South, an Argentine franchise litigator with Greenberg Traurig sang the performer’s praises as well. Pitbull’s appeal, he said, is his ability to use Spanglish so artfully. The hip-hop artist/entrepreneur resonates with the U.S. Latino population, a group that is becoming more and more attractive to marketers, as well as with Latin Americans, a lucrative market south of our borders. (emphasis mine)

In an interview after his speech Pitbull was cagey about his involvement in SLAM.

His role in the new SLAM Charter School — it stands for Sports Leadership and Management — was vague. Opening this fall, it will be run by non-profit Mater Academy, which has several Miami-area charter schools, and Academica, a large national charter school management company, whose president, Fernando Zulueta, welcomed Pitbull to the stage. His role, he said later, won’t be day to day, but “coming up with different ways to get people involved.” (emphasis mine)
"Getting people involved" is certainly Pitbull's specialty. This is from an article about Pitbull's 'HOT equity deal' with the Miami Subs Grill Franchise.

“Miami works on the following (premise),” Louis says, “Who knows who.” Thanks to Louis, and now Pitbull, Miami Subs execs will know a lot of “who’s who” in town.
If you believe Pitbull's newfound charter advocacy is about the kids, then I have a Miami Sub I'd like to sell you.

If I were living in Miami, you better believe I'd be digging into how much money is being shuffled around to get one of the world's "most aggressive celebrity brand and product endorsers" to sling charters to parents and students.

Charter chains are really just education franchises, right?


  1. With the rampant poverty in Florida, what they end up with is a so-called pitbull fighting to maintain the status quo. And lucky them, to have options of crappy test-prep factories thanks to self-serving, self-appointed education experts. However, I'm prepared to take him at his word when he compares his musicianship to that of Bill Clinton, and I'm also prepared to listen to his music just as much as I listen to that of Bill Clinton. Getting ready to not listen to it right now, in fact.

  2. Pitbull, huh?

    The 'bull" part is correct, but the other part only rhymes with "pit".

  3. Thanks for bringing this to a wider audience. The idea that anyone should be making money off of public education is nuts. It's going ruin education if it continues. The fact that celebrities are "endorsing" schools is also nuts. I don't know a thing about Pitbull, but I'm guessing he managed to get through school and make it big without the help of a charter school. The whole concept is ridiculous. Keep doing what you're doing Mother Crusader!

  4. hi..Im college student, this article is very informative, thanks for sharing :)

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    Because of the widespread poverty in Florida, a so-called bulldog emerges to protect the status quo. And luckily for them, owing to self-serving, self-appointed education gurus, they have the choice of awful test-prep factories. However, I'm willing to believe him when he compares his musicianship to Bill Clinton's, and I'm also willing to listen to his music as much as I listen to Bill Clinton's. In fact, I'm about to stop listening to it right now.