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Hillsdale College’s Anti-Teacher Rhetoric Rouses Opposition in Tennessee; Social Studies Snowjob Proceeds in South Dakota

By engaging conservative Hillsdale College to rewrite the state’s K-12 social studies standards, South Dakota is following a pattern established in other states where the Michigan ideology mill is working to insinuate its public education-hating Trumpism. If South Dakota is lucky, that pattern will evolve the way it is in Tennessee, where Hillsdale president Larry Arnn’s denigration of teachers is rousing opposition:

The president of Michigan’s Hillsdale College was riding high earlier this year when he announced plans to launch 50 charter schools in Tennessee after Gov. Bill Lee originally asked for 100.

Six months later, that relationship has cooled after Hillsdale’s Larry Arnn made disparaging comments about educators, telling an audience including Lee that teachers “are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges.”

The comments inspired outrage among lawmakers, teachers and other public school advocates already skeptical of the plans. Now the Republican governor – long known as a charter school and voucher advocate – has distanced himself from Arnn, leaving the fate of charters connected to the small, conservative college in doubt.

Since Arnn’s comments, three Hillsdale-affiliated charter school applications in Tennessee have been rejected by school boards in Jackson-Madison, Clarksville-Montgomery and Rutherford counties [Kimnerlee Kruesi, “Tennessee’s Embrace of Michigan’s Conservative Hillsdale College Sours,” AP via Detroit News, 2022.07.30].

The Hillsdale plants are appealing their charter school rejections to Tennessee’s Public Charter School Commission. One of the rejected schools hilariously accuses its local school board of inserting politics into the application process, when the whole point of the Hillsdale curriculum is to introduce its conservative politics into the history classroom.

Hillsdale College hasn’t announced any plans to open charter schools in South Dakota yet. (Arnn says Governor Kristi Noem has offered to build Hillsdale an entire satellite in South Dakota, but Hillsdale would never, ever use state resources to promote its private agenda.) Hillsdale is starting a Trumpy private school north of the border in Fargo this fall. And the whole point of having Hillsdale graft its hyperpolitical “1776 Project” onto South Dakota’s state standards is to give its curriculum and worldview an advantage in the marketplace. No major textbooks or classroom materials are aligned to Hillsdale’s “standards”. When South Dakota rubber-stamps Hillsdale’s “standards”, public schools will suddenly find themselves sandbagged with social studies textbooks that don’t align with state standards. Conscientious public school teachers will resist using Hillsdale’s politicized materials; private schools eager to push the white patriarchal theocracy will happily offer Hillsdale’s 1776 Project materials and winkingly declare, “See? Our curriculum upholds the state standards better than your public schools do!”

The rubber-stamp Republican-heavy, teacher-light committee chosen by Governor Kristi Noem to rubber-stamp Hillsdale’s “standards” for South Dakota held another closed meeting last week Wednesday at the Sioux Falls Downtown Holiday Inn. The committee and the Noem Administration have shared no information about the standards process since the new committee was named in April.


  1. Megan 2022-08-01 11:13

    I’m afraid that South Dakota teachers won’t take a stand for students. I started my teaching career in Alaska in 2001, where we had literal fist fights in our staff meetings if teachers felt that the changes being made were not in the best interests of students. When I came back to South Dakota, I was amazed at the way that teachers sat in silence at staff meetings and just accepted whatever was handed to us. This was after I had taken a 40% pay cut and like 500% increase for dependent health care. Truly, the teachers I work with here are some of the hardest working, most dedicated staff and community members I know, but in my experience, they are not willing to stick their necks out for a fight. I’m not sure if it’s just because we’re a right to work state or Scandinavian stoicism, but I do believe that we’re going to have to take a stand at some point against what our governor is doing, or education in our state will be drastically affected for the long term.

  2. All Mammal 2022-08-01 12:18

    Doesn’t involving Hillsdale in our curriculum violate Gov Kristi’s new law that bans any outside influencing, donations, or gifts from civics lessons in our public schools?

  3. P. Aitch 2022-08-01 15:27

    Whatever happened to Common Core? Only between 21% to 37% of the standards were ever implemented. The “KristiDale” standards will do even worse before being put to pasture by teachers. IMO

  4. Arlo Blundt 2022-08-01 17:23

    Megan…You’re right in your perception of the outward passivity of many teachers. The attitude is basically “This too will pass.” They know when they close the door to their classrooms, they are in charge of what happens. There isn’t much oversight by Principals and most have the same attitude as teachers. Scandinavian stoics survive, revivalist true believers burn brightly and fade away.

  5. Donald Pay 2022-08-01 21:47

    I think teachers should be more vocal, and I say this as a former school board member. I had great back channels to a number of teachers in Rapid City, so I thought I had a pretty good feeling for what teachers were thinking. I would have appreciated more input. It’s dicey for teachers to speak up if they think administration will overreact if they jump the chain of command. Arlo is right. Teachers have an immense amount of power and responsibility in the classroom, but they have a lot of people they have to satisfy, too. It’s tough to keep everyone happy, and they have to do that with inadequate pay.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-08-02 08:46

    Teachers will need to get vocal on Hillsdale’s attempt to infiltrate our schools and indoctrinate our kids. The issue goes deeper than worst pay in the nation and underfunded programs. It goes to the heart of the profession, the daily care and upbringing of kids. Teachers are providing a good, honest education. Hillsdale is trying to commandeer the classrooms and make a curriculum out of Republican campaign speeches. Teachers cannot teach such trash. They cannot simply keep their heads down and keep working when Hillsdale is now seeking to interfere with and corrupt their work.

  7. P. Aitch 2022-08-02 09:59

    Attention War College Readers:
    Quote: “Teachers cannot teach such trash.” – CAH concerning Hillsdale Curriculum Agenda in SD

  8. paul harens 2022-08-02 10:58

    The new standards are supposed to be released next week. So far, they have not followed a procedure for summarizing what has been accomplished. There are three teachers on the whole committee, one does not even have an SD Certificate and is certified in science in Nebraska. The majority of the others are from Hillsdale College. Most have been donators to Noem’s campaigns. Literally, the majority has zero educational education experience.

    Not only that, Noem appointed a former member of the Social Studies Committee (the original) who quit and really did nothing to the committee that approves all standards for all areas of education.

  9. larry kurtz 2022-08-02 11:14

    Again, many, many schools operated by the Roman church are in the Hillsdale bubble because the curriculum doesn’t teach the Native American genocide conducted in large part by that pederastic christianic sect.

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