Departing Arizona state superintendent of public education John Huppenthal has sent a “notice of noncompliance” to the Tucson Unified School District for using Rage Against The Machine lyrics in class, which sounds like something the Man would do in a Rage Against The Machine song. The notice specifically cites two classes at Tucson’s Cholla High Magnet School, one that used lyrics from “Take The Power Back” in a Mexican-American history class and another that taught KRS-One’s essay “An Introduction To Hip Hop” in an English class focusing on African-American perspectives. (Huppenthal also took offense to a handout that asked, “Why was American slavery the most brutal in history?” and a requirement that students recite Mayan and Aztec teachings daily.)
Both of these apparently violate ARS- 15-112, a 2010 law that prohibits teaching classes that “promote the overthrow of the United States government,” “are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group,” or “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals,” which is exactly the kind of Orwellian bullshit that drives kids to listen to Rage Against The Machine. That’s the position held by Corey Jones, the teacher of the Mexican-American history class in question. “Arizona’s becoming a more fascist state,” he tells Rolling Stone, presumably while clad in a Che Guevara T-shirt. “[F]or a state that proclaims local control, for a state that proclaims so much freedom – and yet in Phoenix you’re having one of the highest elected officials of the state comb through my curriculum and say, ‘This is illegal, you can’t teach that’ – the contradictions are glaring.”
Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello agrees, saying on Twitter that his former band’s music “is only dangerous if u teach it right.” If the district does not remove the offending material from its curriculum—an order to which Jones says he has no intention of complying—it could face a 10 percent cut in state funding beginning March 4. No word on what would happen if Jones starts playing “Killing In The Name Of” in lieu of morning announcements.