Hillsdale charter schools drop appeals … for now

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters in Nashville on July 6, 2022. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A charter school operator planning to use a curriculum developed by controversial Hillsdale College has dropped its challenges after being rejected by elected school boards in Rutherford, Madison, and Montgomery counties.

Hillsdale president Larry Arnn at an event featuring Gov. Bill Lee infamously described teachers as being “trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country.” Lee has since refused to repudiate Arnn’s remarks.

The withdrawal followed an unsuccessful effort by American Classic Education to get the appeals board, the State Public Charter School Commission, to grant a delay of between six and 11 eleven weeks before deciding about whether to overturn the local decisions. The panel rejected the extension.

“I believe that’s a good decision by American Classical Education at this time due to the events of the last summer,” state House Education Chair Mark White (R-Memphis) told The Tennessee Lookout.

Former state Senate Education Chair Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), the board chair of American Classical Education, issued the following statement:

American Classical Education has decided to withdraw its appeals to the Tennessee Public Charter School Commission. ACE initially asked for a delay to further address concerns and clarify confusion and misconceptions raised by the Commission staff in each of the public hearings earlier this month. We understand that the delay request was not granted. Additionally, when the Commission created additional public comment time for its meetings in October — we heard from many parents and students who will be on fall break during the newly reformatted Commission meetings and would be unable to travel to Nashville. This made us concerned that the Commission would not hear directly from the voices that really matter — the parents and students in these communities.

We believe, with complete conviction, that there will be many future opportunities in Tennessee as there are in most of America. The nationwide movement away from monopolistic public schools is an expression of the fact that parents have a natural love and, therefore, a natural say over how and what their children are taught in school. This parental love was evident in the efforts of the many parents who have supported our efforts and to whom we remain committed. It remains a much stronger claim than the claim of the bureaucracy that continues to stifle quality public education options for families. After all, parents are the purest form of “local control” when it comes to their child’s education. 

ACE remains committed to empowering parents and students to have access to high-quality public schools of choice. We look forward to applying for additional charter schools where local parents, teachers and students desire excellent education alternatives.


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