Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn came under fire recently for comments he made at an event with Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee. Arnn said, among other things, that “teachers come from the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges.”
Lee not only silently listened on while Arnn attacked teachers, but he also later doubled down, indicating his support for the general premise of Arnn’s statements.
Today, Arnn published an OpEd in which he apologized “if” he had caused trouble for Lee. He then noted that he meant what he said about teachers and the colleges that train them.
In reference to his comments about the “dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges,” Arnn said:
I have said this many times, in public and in private, and will likely say it again. This time it was important because Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee was present. Many were outraged. I was not speaking for the governor, and I would rather do anything than embarrass him. If I have done that, I apologize to him.
Note he’s apologizing to Lee here, not to teachers in Tennessee.
It’s no wonder he wants to keep Lee happy. The aftermath of Arnn’s remarks, caught on video, has caused some in Lee’s own Republican party to at least say words about cancelling any relationship with Hillsdale. Larry definitely wants to keep the money flowing to his small, fundamentalist Christian school.
Arnn proceeds to disparage the teaching of pedagogical concepts such as diversity, equity, and inclusion – he mentions them as if they are a waste of time, rather than relevant concepts important to the day-to-day work of educators.
Many undergraduate education programs emphasize areas unrelated to the content covered in K-12 classrooms (such as administrative practices, classroom technology, counseling and diversity, equity and inclusion). As well-intentioned as they may be, these programs often steer educators away from the subject matter and toward a political agenda.
Here’s a bit more about the curriculum Arnn’s school promotes at its charters and also offers to schools around the country:
The curriculum calls for students to be “taught that ‘the civil rights movement was almost immediately turned into programs that ran counter to the lofty ideals of the Founders,’ ” News Channel Five notes. Hillsdale’s curriculum suggests that “Modern social-justice movements…are not based on the Founders’ views of equality, but on what it calls ‘identity politics’ that make it ‘less likely that racial reconciliation and healing can be attained.’”
Arnn is no fan of education around diversity, as NewsChannel5 notes:
Dr. Larry Arnn, president of Michigan’s ultra-conservative Hillsdale College, also takes aim at diversity efforts in higher education, claiming people in those positions have education degrees because they are “easy” and “you don’t have to know anything.”
In other words, Larry Arnn is sorry he got caught. Sorry that the backlash MAY cause a delay in the expansion of his empire of evangelical exceptionalism, may slow the flow of public dollars into his private institution.
For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport
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