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Teachers go to the ‘dumbest colleges’ — who said it and why it matters

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One key goal of the movement has been to provide public funding for private and religious education, efforts that have often been accompanied by attacks on traditionally operated public school districts. Former education secretary Betsy DeVos, a key ally of Arnn’s, has for decades pushed for public funding to pay for private and religious education while attacking public education; she once called it a “dead end.”

Hillsdale is helping to open at least 50 charter schools in Tennessee. Charter schools are publicly funded but privately operated.

Larry Arnn is president of a small but influential Christian college in Michigan who has become a key education adviser to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R). Last week, at an invitation-only reception, Arnn repeatedly denigrated teachers, saying, among other things that they “are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country,” and that “anyone” can teach. Lee offered no pushback. WTVF NewsChannel5 in Nashville obtained video of the event, and now both men have come under criticism.

Although such sentiments are not exclusive to Arnn (people across the political spectrum have belittled teachers), his comments have resonance at a time when the Christian right — with the Supreme Court’s ultraconservative majority on its side — is gaining ground in a movement to erase the separation between church and state and push Christian values into the public sector.


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