AP

Scrutinized charter school operator drops Tennessee appeals

Sep 29, 2022, 2:58 PM | Updated: 3:35 pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A contentious charter school operator linked to a conservative Michigan college has dropped its appeals in Tennessee seeking to open three schools there, despite local school boards rejecting their initial request.

The school operator’s decision ends high-profile speculation — at least for now — over the fate of the charter schools. The debate unfolded in the wake of controversial comments about teachers made by the president of Hillsdale College, a small college that holds outsized influence with Republican politicians.

In a letter Thursday, American Classical Education said it had sought a delay to the Oct. 5 meeting where the Tennessee Public Charter School Commission would decide whether to override local school boards regarding the proposed schools. The request for the 45-day delay, made Sept. 26, was denied the next day by the commission, which cited timeline requirements for those appeals in state law.

“We made this decision because of the limited time to resolve the concerns raised by the commission staff and our concerns that the meeting structure and timing on October 5th will not allow commissioners to hear directly from the community members whose interests lie at the heart of the commission’s work,” Dolores Gresham, American Classical Education board chair and a former state senator, wrote in Thursday’s letter to the commission.

Earlier this month, the state commission held public hearings on the applications for the three schools. Supporters of the Hillsdale-affiliated charter schools filled up the majority of the allotted slots allowed for public testimony in the first hearing.

Gresham said in a statement that the organization still believes there will be “many future opportunities in Tennessee as there are in most of America.”

Scrutiny over Hillsdale has also centered on Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn’s comments on teachers, including a declaration that educators are “trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country.” The governor, who was on stage with Arnn during some of his remarks, has refused to condemn his words. Previously, Arnn said Republican Gov. Bill Lee wanted 100 Hillsdale-linked charters in Tennessee, but Arnn announced plans to open 50.

Arnn had recently spearheaded the “1776 Curriculum,” inspired by former President Donald Trump’s short-lived “1776 Commission,” as a direct response to The New York Times’ “1619 Project” focusing on America’s history of slavery. Curriculum materials have been criticized as glorifying the founders, downplaying America’s role in slavery and condemning the rise of progressive politics.

“Now this is news worth celebrating! Hillsdale’s dangerous and inaccurate 1776 program, outright disdain and disrespect for Tennessee teachers, and warped curriculum have NO place in #Tennessee,” Democratic Sen. Raumesh Akbari tweeted Thursday. “Good riddance!”

Thursday’s news also eases some of the scrutiny surrounding the state’s Charter School Commission. Critics have long argued that it was designed to rubberstamp charters that local communities didn’t want, as several commissioners are tied to pro-charter groups. The nine members were handpicked by Lee — who has been a vocal charter school supporter and proponent of Hillsdale College’s charter initiative.

The commission was already facing fire after The Associated Press revealed that commission staffers had been shocked at how the denials of the Hillsdale-affiliated charter applications took place. A commission spokesperson later said staffers closely monitor such actions to stay prepared for potential appeals.

The governor continued to distance himself from Hillsdale on Thursday, declining to weigh in on their application withdrawals and instead reiterating that he wanted to continue to provide more education choices to families.

“I continue to believe that we should have classical education options for parents but the decision that was made there is entirely their decision,” Lee said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Israeli Embassy...

Associated Press

US airman dies after setting himself ablaze outside Israeli Embassy in Israel-Hamas war protest

An active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force has died after he set himself ablaze outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

2 days ago

Biden and Trump to visit Mexico border Thursday immigration...

Associated Press

Biden and Trump both plan trips to the Mexico border Thursday, dueling for advantage on immigration

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will make dueling trips to the U.S-Mexico border on Thursday.

2 days ago

Arizona and New York attorneys feud over extraditing suspect...

Associated Press

Why Alvin Bragg and Rachel Mitchell are fighting over extraditing suspect in New York hotel killing

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says she isn't into extraditing a suspect due to her lack of faith in Manhattan’s top prosecutor.

6 days ago

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018. A 34-year-old Color...

Associated Press

Colorado man dies after being bitten by pet Gila monster

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death by one of the desert lizards if the creature's venom turns out to have been the cause.

7 days ago

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

14 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

15 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

...

Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Scrutinized charter school operator drops Tennessee appeals