Published May 07, 2009
Is the San Francisco school district in a purple haze?
The district has chosen a highly unusual role model to grace the cover of its new education guide, and some residents are questioning whether the choice sends a good message to the city's youth.
On the cover of the new district guidebook – aimed at changing the educational “experiences for every child in each of our schools” – is a portrait of 1960s rock legend Jimi Hendrix, known as much for his fatal drug habit as his revolutionary take on rock music.
The district's manifesto asks readers to remember “the first time you heard Jimi Hendrix,” before proclaiming “our plan is as transformational now as his music was then," according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle.
But the image of Hendrix — who didn't make it through high school — is not limited to the cover. Indeed, Hendrix's face appears on nearly every page of the manual, which also comes with a Hendrix poster and canvas tote, all distributed to hundreds of administrators in Superintendent Carlos Garcia’s district.
Garcia told the Chronicle that he was simply trying to “revolutionize” the district and felt comfortable with Hendrix’s controversial image because, “Hey, we’re in San Francisco.”
Jim Dierke, the principal of the Visitacion Valley Middle School told FOX News Wednesday that he supported the initiative: "This new approach, starting here ... is a new and exiciting way to get to the root problem of kids and try to bring them along to the standards."
But not all administrators feel the same.
One concerned “liberal hippie educator” in the district – who went unnamed for fear of retaliation – told the Chronicle, “I find the choice of Hendrix as inspiration to be used in an educational setting rather strange and out of touch.”
"This is another silly political statement that somehow we should hold people like Jimi Hendrix up as an agent of change," Gary Delagnes, president of the city's Police Officers' Association told FOX News Wednesday. "Jimi Hendrix was nothing more than a talented musician who died overdosing on drugs."
Born in 1942, Hendrix rose to fame after delighting audiences with an innovative, experimental sound and his remarkable skill as a guitarist. His shows often included outrageous stunts such as playing the guitar with his teeth or lighting it on fire. He was named the No. 1 Greatest Guitarist of All Time in Rolling Stone's top-100 list.
His success was legendary, but short-lived: he died at the age of 27 when he choked on his own vomit after a drug overdose.