Rage Against The Machine are not too popular with Arizona's outgoing superintendant of public education, John Huppenthal. For his last day of work, Huppenthal targeted one school district for what he perceived to be violating the state's ban on ethnic studies according to Rolling Stone. This "notice of noncompliance" sent to district superintendent, Dr. H.T. Sanchez, according to the Arizona Daily Star, highlighted two music-related violations, an Introduction To Hip-Hop, written by KRS One in an English class taught from an African-American perspective and the use of Rage Against The Machine's "Take The Power Back" in a Mexican-American history course. As one might expect, Tom Morello was not too pleased with the decision.
— Tom Morello (@tmorello) January 3, 2015
Both courses are taught at Tuscon's Cholla High Magnet School. The notice highlights the profanity-laden lyrics from "Take The Power Back." Huppenthal claim the courses "promote the overthrow of the United States government," "promote resentment toward a race or class of people" and "advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals."
More importantly, Huppenthal asserts that the courses are not compliant with a piece of Arizona legislation, passed in 2010 that controls classroom curriculum.
He has threatened to cut 10 percent of the districts funding if they do not comply by March 4.
Sanchez had requested a meeting with Huppenthal, but had been unable to reach him.
"These courses were developed specifically under the court order," Sanchez wrote, according to The Arizona Republic. "That order — the Unitary Status Plan — requires us to develop and implement culturally relevant courses taught from both the Mexican-American and African-American perspectives."
"I am deeply concerned by the fact that the noncompliance appears to extend beyond classes taught from the Mexican-American perspective and now also includes classes taught from the African-American perspective," Huppenthal said in a statement, adding he wants "students, regardless of their race or ethnic background, [to] have access to a high quality education." He also wrote, "In issuing this finding before classes resume, I am hopeful that the district will take immediate action to comply with the law."
The new superintendent, Diane Douglas has vowed to "keep the ball rolling" and follow up on the notice.