Andy Spears: Exceptionally Bad
Andy Spears keeps an eye on educational shenanigans in Tennessee. Here he looks at Governor Bill Lee’s stated intention to bring Hillsdale College in to start ramping up charters in the state.
ov. Bill Lee made clear in his State of the State that he is a proponent of an alternative history known as “American exceptionalism.”
This theory is grounded in a sort of American evangelicalism – and certainly has strong ties to far-right Christian movements. To advance his “exceptionalism agenda” Lee has announced a partnership with conservative Hillsdale College – a private, Christian school in Michigan. Yes, Tennessee is such a great example of exceptionalism that we have to turn to a private college from Michigan to “properly” teach history.
Here’s a note on that from Lee’s speech:
Two years ago, I traveled to Hillsdale College to participate in a Presidents Day celebration and spend time with champions of American exceptionalism.
For decades, Hillsdale College has been the standard bearer in quality curriculum and the responsibility of preserving American liberty.
I believe their efforts are a good fit for Tennessee, and we are formalizing a partnership with Hillsdale to expand their approach to civics education and K-12 education.
WPLN reports that public education advocates are raising concerns about the transfer of Tennessee tax dollars to a private, religious institution:
Lee has made a deal with a conservative college to open about 50 charter schools in the state.
Lee has made a deal with Hillsdale College, a small Christian liberal arts school in Michigan, to bring their civic education and K-12 curriculum to Tennessee.
Beth Brown, the [Tennessee Education] association’s president, says there is no need to bring in outsiders to implement a new curriculum or to set aside $32 million for new charter schools, a key element in the proposal.
“The concern is that we’re taking taxpayer dollars and we’re going to take those taxpayer dollars away from our public schools and give them to private entities,” said Brown.
It’s noteworthy, too, that Lee cited Ronald Reagan in his address:
I recently watched President Reagan’s farewell address, made just before he left office in January of 1989.
As many other Presidents have done, his farewell address includes a warning to the American people.
He reminds us that what we want to have in this country is “informed patriotism.”
Lee claims that he has been inspired by Reagan’s words. This inspiration is ostensibly the impetus for the focus on an American exceptionalism curriculum from Hillsdale College.
Of course, Reagan is no stranger to efforts to dismantle public education and turn schools over to those on the extreme right of the political spectrum.