December 13, 2023

Andy Spears: Hillsdale Loves Fiction

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Andy Spears covers Tennessee, where Hillsdale really hopes to launch a bevy of charter schools. Spears looks at a recent op-ed by NPE’s Carol Burris that shows that Hillsdale isn’t always honest about how it operates.

In 2022, Gov. Lee suggested that he dreams of at least 50 Hillsdale-affiliated charter schools in the state.

So, it’s worth taking a look at how Hillsdale charters are operating in other states.

A recent piece in the Washington Post gives some cause for concern.

The story concerns Cincinnati Classical Academy, a charter school affiliated with Hillsdale.

And what a story it is. CCA “borrowed” the demographics from Cincinnati Public Schools in weaving a tale of serving low-income and minority students. As a result of their promise to serve underserved students, the school was awarded nearly $2 million in federal education funding.

The reality is that the school is located in a Cincinnati suburb and essentially operates as a free, private, Christian school for predominantly middle- to high-income white students.

As the Post story notes:

CCA, which prides itself on teaching virtue, asked for the grant on the basis of its claim that it was closing the achievement gap and serving disadvantaged students, never reporting that only 16 percent of its students are economically disadvantaged and that 2 percent are Black

More than 80 percent of the students in Cincinnati Public Schools were economically disadvantaged compared to fewer than 17 percent at CCA.

The only category in which CCA exceeds a demographic of Cincinnati Public Schools is White students. More than 82 percent of CCA students are White, compared to 20 percent in the public school district.

But telling a story of closing achievement gaps and fudging the numbers (that is, entirely misrepresenting the demographic the school serves) meant CCA could net a couple million dollars of taxpayer money – and, by meeting the imaginary goals it proposed, could keep the money flowing for years to come.

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