Pitbull talks about the importance of education & charter schools
WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - In his first public speech ever, recording artist Pitbull - also known as Armando Christian Pérez - gave the opening statement at the 2013 National Charter Schools Conference on Monday morning.
"I'm so used to making records that to be up here speaking to you all actually makes me nervous, imagínate (imagine - in Spanish)," he told the crowd at the D.C. Convention Center.
The man of many names -- "Pitbull," "Mr. Worldwide" and "Mr. 305" -- talked about the importance of strong public education for all children to a hundreds of educators in attendance.
"Every day I see firsthand how my children are becoming highly motivated, thanks to the charter schools they attend," the father of six said.
Pitbull said he believes charter schools are "revolutionizing education in America" and has founded SLAM (Sports Leadership and Management), a tuition-free charter in Miami. In the fall, the school will open its doors to hundreds of children and will emphasize sports-related careers.
"It doesn't necessarily mean you have to be an athlete, but if you love sports one way or another you can be a broadcaster, an attorney, a therapist, you are learning in a field that you love."
A child of Cuban immigrants, Pitbull moved around a lot and has attended many schools but only two teachers really believed and motivated him.
He said he realized he wanted to be part of the education system when it failed for him.
"The first teacher, Mrs. Ryan, was actually in a very special moment in my life when I ended up in a foster home in Georgia due to a lot of situations going on in my family at that time," he said. "My second experience was with Mrs. Martinez, she was the first teacher to believe in me and my talents that I didn't even know I had at the time. Think about the gap - second grade and then 11th grade - imagine having a teacher that can motivate kid's year in and year out."
SLAM, catered to middle and high school students, is located in Pitbull's old neighborhood of Little Havana in Miami. He said he wants to bring better schools to those kids who have "all the potential in the world but don't have the support they need to succeed."
"I constantly gave a wrong address to go to a better school," he said. "I don't want anyone in America to have to lie about where they live."
In the past years, President Bill Clinton, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and actor Bill Cosby have made remarks at the conference.