Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn tore into the state of public education last week during a private college event in Tennessee.
Arnn’s comments were caught on a hidden camera at a private college event in Franklin, Tennessee, just south of the state capital of Nashville. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee attended the event as Arnn’s “special guest.” The recording of the event was obtained by a local Tennessee outlet, News Channel 5 Nashville.
Tennessee and Hillsdale College currently have a working partnership. Lee announced in January that Tennessee was partnering with Hillsdale College to build dozens of classical K-12 charter schools across the state.
During the nearly two-hour event, Arnn criticized the institutions currently directing and influencing state-run education, such as the Department of Education, various universities with accredited education programs, and the National Association of Education union. After Channel 5 published its story, Claude Pressnell Jr., president of Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, called Arnn’s comments “incredibly disturbing” and an insult to educators.
Channel 5 reported clips of the event without publishing a full video of the event or Arnn’s comments. The Daily Wire was not able to obtain a full recording of Arnn’s comments, nor did Channel 5 respond to a request to share the full recording.
Channel 5 reported that Arnn “repeatedly mock[ed] the intelligence of public school teachers and question[ed] whether they really care about what is best for their students,” a characterization that both Hillsdale College and Lee’s office contest.
“Dr. Arnn was clearly criticizing the educational bureaucracy that has done a great disservice to both teachers and students by depriving them of the high-quality, content-rich education that makes for excellent teaching,” Hillsdale College spokeswoman Emily Davis told The Daily Wire in a statement.
“Hillsdale College has been in the serious business of education and teaching for more than 175 years. It wants what parents want: for as many children in America as possible to have access to high-quality educational options,” Davis continued. “The college’s approach to classical education in the liberal arts and sciences — combined with instruction in the principles of moral character and civic virtue — is the very best at teaching the whole child, helping students understand the world, and preparing young people for a life of service and flourishing. We look forward to assisting in that noble endeavor in Tennessee.”
Lee spokeswoman Laine Arnold told The Daily Wire, “Critics dishonestly claimed that a recent event with Hillsdale College criticized Tennessee teachers when it did not. Criticizing activism and other Left-wing issues that creep into the classroom is entirely separate from sentiments about the value or performance of Tennessee teachers. Our respect and support for educators in Tennessee wasn’t up for debate then and it isn’t now.”
Arnn’s college is a Christian liberal arts school in southern Michigan well known for its refusal to accept federal funds of any kind to limit the influence the federal government has on its curriculum. The college is popular among conservatives and often advertises with right-wing broadcasters.
Arnn said of the National Association of Education (NEA): “They’re the biggest gorillas, and they have a monopoly on education.” Teachers unions, of which the NEA is the largest, are generally highly partisan with 94% of donations backing Democrats, according to Open Secrets.
NEA’s president, Becky Pringle, has been an outspoken critic of any display of religion in public schools, whether or not it is sanctioned by the school itself. She slammed the Supreme Court’s recent decision to side with a Washington state high school football coach who was disciplined for praying at midfield after football games. Pringle denounced the coach’s action as “sectarian religious coercion.”
Later on in the event, Arnn criticized the university education system for teachers and the approach to education overall inherent in them. “Ed departments in colleges, if you work in a college, you’ll know this – unless you work in the Ed department, ours is different – but they are the dumbest part of every college,” Arnn said.
The Hillsdale College president went on to suggest that teaching is not a skill that needs to be taught at universities, so much as the knowledge and topics the teachers will need to master in order to teach their students.
“If you study physics, there’s a subject, right? How does the physical world work? That’s hard to figure out. Politics is actually the study of justice. What is justice? Some of the greatest books ever written are written about that. ‘Plato’s Republic’ is written about that. Literature – they don’t do it much anymore, but you can read the greatest books, the most beautiful books ever written. Education is the study of how to teach. Is that a separate art? I don’t think so,” Arnn said.
Arnn cited theologian C.S. Lewis’ book “The Abolition of Man,” which in part argues that a rejection of an objective morality leads to the collapse of society. “[Bad] education destroys generations of people. It’s devastating. It’s like the plague.”
“The philosophic understanding at the heart of modern education is enslavement and we have to break out of that,” Arnn said.
Arnn said that most teachers are currently taught to “do” something to children rather than cultivate their minds and souls.
“It’s an organized force. The teachers are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country, and they are taught that they are going to go and do something to those kids,” Arnn said. “Do they ever talk about anything except what they are going to do to these kids?
“My wife is English, and she’s a gardener,” he said, “and she doesn’t talk about what she is going to do to these plants. She talks about what they need, because if you give them what they need, they will grow. It’s not a manufacturing operation.”
“They’re messing with people’s children, and they feel entitled to do anything to them, and if you mess with that, they’ll call the FBI on you,” Arnn said at one point, an apparent reference to a Department of Justice action last year.
Last summer, outraged parents spoke out at numerous school board meetings across the U.S. in protest of continuing COVID protocols and the influence of LGBT and Critical Race Theory content on their children’s education. Amid the outrage, the Department of Justice mobilized the FBI against threats to school boards in an act many Republicans denounced as an attempt to intimidate parents for pushing back against leftism.
Arnn also criticized the average university system and the rigor of obtaining a degree in education.
“In colleges now, what you hire now is administrators. You don’t get faculty anymore, you get kids to do that, if you can. And the administrators you hire are all diversity people. And that helps you, by the way, with your federal requirements that you have a certain number by color,” Arnn said. “And what do they do? What they do is tell everybody else what to do. And now, because they are appointing all these diversity officers, what are their degrees in? Education. It’s easy. You don’t have to know anything.”
Originally Posted on: https://www.dailywire.com/news/hillsdale-college-president-under-fire-after-ripping-state-of-public-education-heres-what-he-said
[By: Tim Pearce