ACLU Requests Tennessee Records on Announced Charter School Partnership with Hillsdale College

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Tennessee asked the state of Tennessee to release all records regarding an announced charter school partnership with Hillsdale College.

The organization sent open records requests on Monday, requesting information about Governor Bill Lee’s (R-TN) “developing partnership with Hillsdale College to establish a number of publicly funded charter schools in Tennessee,” a press statement said.

“Gov. Lee has been developing a partnership with the out-of-state, private, Christian institution Hillsdale College to establish a number of publicly funded charter schools in Tennessee,” the ACLU tweeted Monday. “We demand that Gov. Lee release the agreement and related records.”

Hedy Weinberg, ACLU of Tennessee executive director, said in the organization’s statement:

Outsourcing the operation of our public schools to a private, out-of-state religious college is not in the best interest of Tennessee’s children and is deeply concerning. Governor Lee’s plan raises serious constitutional concerns, and the public deserves full transparency so that they know about any financial arrangement and other details of this agreement, as well as its impact on public education.

ACLU sent the open records requests to Governor Lee’s office, the Tennessee Public Charter School Commission, and the Tennessee Department of Education.

“The letters request copies of any agreements or draft agreements between the state and the private, Christian institution; communications between various state offices and the school; and records of any payments made by the state to the school,” the press statement indicated.

As The Tennessee Star reported in early February, Hillsdale College announced it would begin to offer its support to the formation of classical charter schools in Tennessee, free of charge, through a partnership with charter management organization American Classical Education, Inc.

In his State of the State address delivered January 31, Lee unveiled a $52.6 billion budget plan that seeks to put an additional $1 billion toward K-12 education, including $32 million toward charter school facilities.

The governor also highlighted his work to formalize a partnership with Hillsdale College to expand K-12 education in Tennessee.

Kathleen O’Toole, assistant provost for K-12 Education at Hillsdale College, said in the College’s announcement:

When Governor Lee visited Hillsdale College, he was impressed with the College’s ongoing efforts in supporting K-12 schools with classical curriculum and training for school boards, leaders, and teachers. Here at the College’s K-12 Education office, we help schools to provide the type of education that all Americans both need and deserve — one that is rooted in the liberal arts and sciences, offers a firm grounding in civic virtue, and cultivates moral character.

“Hillsdale is involved in a number of initiatives that align with our priorities in Tennessee,” Lee spokesperson Casey Black said in a statement to the Tennessean the day after Lee’s address, noting the effort includes expanding “high-quality education options for Tennessee students” and the formation of new charter schools.

The Tennessee Star reached out to the Tennessee Department of Education and Hillsdale College.  Brian Brackley, director of media at the Tennessee Department of Education responded, “We have received [ACLU of Tennessee’s] request and are moving forward to fulfill their request in compliance with Tennessee Public Records Act.”

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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]



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9 Thoughts to “ACLU Requests Tennessee Records on Announced Charter School Partnership with Hillsdale College”

  1. Jay

    Public education as we know it should be destroyed. It’s a complete failure.

    1. Traditional thinker

      I agree with you Jay, along with the aclu and its idiot supporters. Public education should be renamed public indoctrination. They’re completely dumming down students to the point that they’ll never succeed in the world and progressive liberal morons are leading this charge.

  2. william r. delzell

    Good for the TN-ACLU! Hillsdale College is a pseudo-college of right wing ideologues who want to destroy public school education as we know it.

    1. J W Brewer

      Freedom as defined by classical liberalism is ring wing? The purpose of public schools is to teach progressive values (unable to tell the difference between male and female)? Yes William, Freedom=Slavery and War=Peace. It is the teaching of classical liberalism that terrifies you doesn’t it? Considering the abysmal failure of public schools, especially urban schools, I don’t think TN is going far enough as this should be the standard curriculum for every public school in Tn and not just Charter schools.

  3. Sim

    “Somebody” needs to remind the ACLU that “Tennessee is a Sovereign Nation/State”,
    Obligated only to the USA by the very limited terms of the “Constitution”.

    The Constitution is the “Supreme Law of the land”,

    Executive Order, or Treaties with foreign Government/Countries, (Gun restriction) must abide within it’s terms or become a violation.

    Only by a Constitutional Amendment can the Constitution be changed or altered.

    Jimmy Carter, by EO, created the “Department of Education” which has no legal authority under the powers enumerated by the Constitution to the Federal Government.

    People, Lawyers especially, need a “Refresher Course” about the Constitution and how the framers intended for it too be applied.

  4. John

    Why is it this racist organization is allowed to continue tear down the values and institutions that are the foundation of this once great country?

    At this point, the ACLU needs to be classified as a domestic terrorist group and dealt with accordingly.

    1. Jason

      Couldn’t have said it any better John!

      It’s impossible to have the ACLU classified as a terrorist group when they are among the filth who decide that very thing. We the people have our true lists of domestic enemies and need to prepare for what’s fast approaching to deal with them.