Hillsdale College released a detailed statement Thursday to “correct factual inaccuracies and oft-repeated falsehoods in the media” regarding the Michigan-based private school’s “work in K-12 education.”
The aim of the statement was “to clarify the nature of the relationship between Hillsdale College and the schools with which it is affiliated.”
As The Tennessee Star reported, three schools with which Hillsdale College is affiliated in Tennessee are appealing local school board denials of their charter school applications before the Tennessee Public Charter School Commission. All three schools are under the management of American Classical Education:
Their charter applications have been complicated by the public release of video taped comments made by Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn in a private meeting earlier this year which disparaged colleges of education, and have been interpreted by many as disparaging public school teachers as well. Those comments have been widely criticized throughout the state of Tennessee and made any project in the state connected to Hillsdale College politically controversial.
The statement identified eight “common misconceptions” about Hillsdale College’s efforts:
1.Hillsdale College DOES NOT have a contract with Gov. Bill Lee or the state of Tennessee
While Dr. Arnn and Gov. Lee are both ambitious for classical education to be available to any families who seek it out, there are not—and never have been—formal plans to expand without parent and community demand.
2. Hillsdale College DOES NOT receive money from the state of Tennessee or from charter schools in Tennessee or from any other state or federal government entity
As a matter of principle, Hillsdale College does not accept any federal or state subsidies to fund its operations, not even indirectly in the form of federal student aid. Instead, Hillsdale provides need-based student aid with private funds to qualifying students.
3. Hillsdale College DOES NOT govern, own, or manage affiliated charter schools
The relationship between Hillsdale College and its affiliated schools is unique in the K-12 school world. Hillsdale College does not own, govern, manage, or profit from any affiliated school. Hillsdale College’s services to affiliated schools include consulting, curriculum, and training; these services are made possible through private donations to Hillsdale College, and affiliated schools incur no financial obligation for receipt of these services.
4. Charter schools affiliated with Hillsdale College are NOT private schools
Charter schools are public schools; by definition, their teachers are public school teachers, and their students are public school students. Public charter schools receive their funding from local, state, and federal governments. There are no tuition costs to attend, and any K-12 student in a state may apply for admission. Because of the often-high demand for charter schools, the number of applicants may exceed the number of spots available.
5. Charter schools affiliated with Hillsdale College are NOT Christian schools
By law, charter schools are public schools and have no religious affiliation. The public charter schools that affiliate with the Hillsdale College K-12 Education Office are no different. The curriculum offered by the Hillsdale College K-12 Education Office is not religious or Christian. The consultation offered from the Hillsdale College K-12 Education Office is not religious or Christian.
6. Charter schools affiliated with Hillsdale College are NOT partisan or political
Hillsdale College’s K-12 curriculum isn’t “liberal,” “conservative,” “right,” nor “left.” The work the Hillsdale K-12 Education Office is doing with K-12 schools across the country isn’t a political project, it’s an educational endeavor.
7. The Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum is NOT related to the 1776 Commission
No formal connection exists between the former president’s 1776 Commission or the 1776 Report and The Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum.
Hillsdale College has been in the serious business of education and teaching for more than 175 years. Since the founding of the Barney Charter School Initiative in 2010, Hillsdale K-12 has established dozens of classical charter schools across several states.
8. The Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum does NOT whitewash history; it does NOT glorify the founders; it does NOT downplay America’s role in slavery; it does NOT condemn the rise of progressive politics.
The Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum brings together a content-rich curriculum that covers both American history as well as American government, political history, and civics.
The inspiration for the Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum springs from a sincere admiration and respect for America’s Founders and the principles they expressed so beautifully in the preamble of the Declaration of Independence: all men are created equal, their natural rights pre-exist government, and governments are formed to protect the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of all citizens.
The Tennessee Public Charter School Commission is expected to release its decision on the applications of American Classical Academy Rutherford, American Classical Academy Madison, and American Classical Academy Montgomery next month.
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[Editor’s Note: American Classical Education is an advertiser in The Tennessee Star.]