Use of Rage Against the Machine in Ethnic Studies Course Targeted by Arizona School System
Rage Against the Machine's anthemic 'Take the Power Back' has been targeted by former Arizona state Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal. On the politicians last day in office, he went after the Tucson Unified School District for apparently violating Arizona's current legislature on ethnic studies by using 'Take the Power Back' in Mexican-American history studies.
For the use of RATM's 'Take the Power Back' in the Mexican-American history class, as well as an introduction to hip-hop piece written by KRS-One utilized in an English class taught from an African-American perspective, among other subjects, Huppanthal sent a letter of noncompliance to the Tuscon Unified School District threatening to cut its state funding by 10 percent. According to AZ Central, school administrators must comply with orders to provide more information on the history classes and to remove parts of the curriculum that violates the law by March 4.
"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 says in a statement.
Specifically, the Arizona ethnic studies ban prohibits courses that promote the overthrow of U.S. government or the Constitution, promotes resentment towards any race or class, advocates ethnic solidarity instead of individualism and are designed for a certain ethnicity.
"These courses were developed specifically under the court order," says Superintendent of the Tucson district, H.T. Sanchez. "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." Sanchez also claims he has asked to meet with Huppenthal in the past, but "so far that hasn't happened."
Corey Jones, who teaches the Cholla Magnet course 'U.S. History Culturally Relevant Mexican-American Perspective' and uses Rage Against the Machine lyrics into its studies, tells Rolling Stone he was "a little bit embarrassed" to live in a state with such politics. Jones defends 'Take the Power Back' from a social justice perspective, and although half his students didn't know the band prior to class, Jones reports they loved the song. The teacher is taking the message of 'Take the Power Back' to heart, planning to keep it in his curriculum.
In response to the attempted ban on school use of 'Take the Power Back,' Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello tweeted, "It's only dangerous if u teach it right."
As documented by Mashable, protesters have gathered to support the use of RATM, KRS-One and various other items targeted by John Huppenthal.
Huppenthal lost his recent re-election campaign to fellow Republican Diane Douglas, who took office yesterday (Jan. 5). Douglas is expected to "keep the ball rolling" in pressuring the Tucson district to remove Rage Against the Machine and KRS-One from its curriculum.