Arizona school says hip hop class featuring KRS-One violates ban on ethnic studies

Arizona state superintendent John Huppenthal (R) is upset with one of his school districts over classes that feature artists like Rage Against the Machine and KRS-One.

Lyrics from Rage Against the Machine’s song “Take the Power Back” were included in a class called “Culturally Relevant Mexican American Perspective,” and an essay about KRS-One’s music was used in a class called “Culturally Relevant African-American Perspective.”

Huppenthal says these two classes violate the ban signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer in 2010 on classes that “promote resentment toward any race or class” and “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of being individuals.”

“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 wrote in a letter released on Friday. In the letter, he gave the school district until March to remove the classes and other “culturally relevant” courses or risk losing 10 percent of their funding.

However, supporters have rallied behind the classes, claiming improved graduation rates and test scores. A lawsuit has also been filed in an attempt to overturn the ban on cultural classes.