Kanye West’s late mother, Donda, was the chair of Chicago State University's English department. It’s quite lovely of the superstar to name a school, Donda Academy, in her honor. Yet this is a man who once proclaimed himself a “proud non-reader of books,” an identification he made very clear when he infamously insisted American slavery “sounds like a choice.”
It’s not imperative that everyone read books. Sure, we all should, but people are grown and got shit to do, bills to pay, and regrets to ponder while staring off blankly into the distance. Mr. West is in the position of an educator. That’s different. What type of parent would want to send their children to an institution of learning where the founder hates books and uses every opportunity to prove it?
Rolling Stone published a report on West’s mysterious school, and there are several odd takeaways. The private Christian academy based in Simi Valley, California, has parents sign non-disclosure agreements, and both current and former employees are tight-lipped about the experience. So the process of how this school is run remains opaque. The pre-K through 12th grade curriculum spans a wide range of disciplines like music, fashion, film, and art—exactly what you’d expect from Ye’s school—but, for some reason, the kids are also taught parkour.
Donda Academy’s principal and executive director, Brianne Campbell, has no formal education experience or training. However, she is currently enrolled in a postgraduate education program at Pepperdine’s in January that she should complete by next August.
At $15,000 per year—with half of the 100 kids who are enrolled receiving financial assistance—Donda Academy isn’t prohibitively expensive. (At least not for a private school.) However, since the school is currently not accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, that’s a lot of money to spend on a degree that holds as much academic weight as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It makes Donda Academy a little closer to KanyeUniverseCity than its competitor, Sierra Canyon.
Who knows, though? Maybe Kanye, as he’s done so often, will get the last laugh. Maybe it won’t matter if these kids have a Hasbro diploma. (When’s the last time you were asked to attach a copy of your degree along with your résumé and cover letter?) Besides, in the end, these young pupils may not need credentials: They’ll have unprecedented access to giants in sports, fashion, arts, and music, putting them in an enviable position that perhaps deems college a waste of time and money. Who knows? I ain’t got the answers, Sway!