About Hillsdale

Gov. Bill Lee is proposing to hand over millions in Tennessee tax dollars to a private, Christian college in Michigan to run between 50-100 “charter schools” in the state.

Lee wants charter schools because they won’t need a voucher plan to be funded – they can just apply for charters (possibly directly from a state charter authorizer, bypassing local school boards) – and then receive public money.

Sure, handing over public money to a private entity to run schools is problematic. But what is Hillsdale all about? I mean, if TN is going to go down this road, we should certainly understand more about the college that has been chosen by Lee to run schools.

Good news! Peter Greene digs into Hillsdale and offers a useful exploration of the history of Hillsdale and how it runs the schools it runs.

Here are some highlights:

[Hillsdale President Larry] Arnn has been a Trump supporter, and the college has fallen right into MAGAland as well. Or as Politico Magazine put it in 2018Trump University never died. It’s located in the middle of bucolic southern Michigan, halfway between Lansing and Fort Wayne, 100 miles and a world away from Detroit.

The college uses Trump mailing lists to raise money. They used to sponsor Rush Limbaugh’s show. They get grads placed on the staff of legislators such as Jim Jordan and Kevin McCarthy. In 2017, for some reason, Senator Pat Toomey created a little piece of tax reform that would have carved out a tax treat for Hillsdale alone.

If you want to see Hillsdale really letting its freak flag fly, scan through its newsletter Imprimiswith articles like “The Disaster at Our Southern Border” (VP Harris’s report is “bunk”), “The January 6 Insurrection Hoax” (Donald Trump was awesome and robbed and Jan 6 has been overhyped as part of a vast conspiracy), and an explanation of inflation that rests on Milton Friedman’s awesomeness. All of these, it should be noted, are versions of lectures delivered at the college. 

It should come as no surprise that Hillsdale is home to a lot of privatizing thought about education, like a 2018 piece by Professor Gary Wolfram explaining why schools should be run via the free market. And then-secretary Betsy DeVos made Hillsdale the site of one of her most explicit speeches arguing that schools should be taken back from the government and run by free-market Christianity.

This line from Politico may more clearly explain Lee’s enthusiasm for Hillsdale:

Trump University never died. It’s located in the middle of bucolic southern Michigan, halfway between Lansing and Fort Wayne, 100 miles and a world away from Detroit.

READ MORE from Greene on the Hillsdale experiment Bill Lee wants in Tennessee.

EPA/ANTONIO LACERDA

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