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Hillsdale President Clarifies Criticism of Teachers

July 20, 2022

Hillsdale College’s president, Larry P. Arnn, now says he “has deep and abiding affection for teachers.”

Arnn has been under fire in Tennessee for comments he made while in the presence of Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee, a Republican. Arnn said that teachers are trained “in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges.” And Arnn said that “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.” Actually, there are no federal requirements or quotas mandating that colleges hire specific numbers of administrators from underrepresented groups.

Hillsdale is located in Michigan.

In an op-ed in The Tennessean Monday, Arnn wrote, “Dumb can mean ‘unintelligent,’ which I did not mean. Dumb also means ‘ill-conceived’ or ‘misdirected,’ which is, sadly, a fitting description for many education schools today. Professors of college and graduate education programs primarily teach methods. To be sure, methods are important in almost any human activity, but they are seldom the chief object. Watch orators speak: method matters, but only insofar as it contributes to persuasion. The quality of the text and the ideas matter far more.”

He added, “Hillsdale College offers free curriculum and advice to assist charter schools in Tennessee and other states. The bureaucrats and their leftist activists, however, work to use Hillsdale’s curriculum—and by extension, our children’s education options—to fight their partisan ideological battles.”

The Tennessee Education Association has called on Lee to stop taking advice from Arnn. “Hillsdale disrespects Tennesseans and Tennessee values,” said President Tanya Coats before the op-ed was published.

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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