The former head of Arizona’s education department said classes that taught hip hop were illegal and denounced them for advocating “ethnic solidarity,” in a letter written on Friday, his last day in office.
Former Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal (R) took issue with a course that taught “An Introduction to Hip Hop Presented by Master Teacher, KRS-One.”
In the letter, Huppenthal noted one of the lines from the course’s lesson, which read: “Hip Hop is defined as the artistic response to oppression.” He cited it as an example of how the course violated an existing Arizona law.
Huppenthal was referring to a 2010 law passed by the state’s GOP-led legislature that banned courses taught from the Mexican-American perspective in Tucson schools. It was a law he helped pass while serving in the state’s Senate.
In his letter, Huppenthal cited several “culturally relevant courses” which he said violated the law:
It appears to have one of more classes that “(1) promote the overthrow of the United States government [;] (2) promote resentment toward a race or class of people [; or] (4) advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”
Huppenthal made news in June for making anonymous comments comparing the poor to “lazy pigs,” which prompted a tearful apology, and for saying America needs to “stamp out” Spanish language media.
The Arizona Education Department did not respond to requests for comment. However, according to the Huffington Post, Tucson’s school district administrators said they would resolve the issue with Huppenthal’s replacement, Diane Douglas, who took office on Monday.