Hip hop studies may be in jeopardy in Arizona public schools.
According to Superintendent John Huppenthal, the Tucson Unified School District is violating a state ban on ethnic studies, ultimately risking loss of state funding. To make things worse, during his last day in office on Friday (Jan. 2), Huppenthal announced that he was seeking sanctions against the school if it does not correct this by March 4. One violation Huppenthal cited, in particular, an introductory course on hip hop.
Arizona enforced a ban on ethnic studies in 2010 to the dismay of both teachers and students alike who linked these programs directly with increased student achievement. In April 2012, the Tucson Unified School District board voted to eliminate the program since it would no longer be funded if it continued, but the program did not go down without a fight. Students and teachers sued the state, saying that the law was broad and breaches the right of free speech.
About a year later, a federal court found courses "designated primarily for people of a particular ethnic group" to be "unconstitutionally vague," reports Billboard.
Oral arguments for this case will be heard on Jan. 12 in San Francisco by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Huppenthal has given the district until March 4 to correct the course or lose 10 percent in state funding.
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