A struggling public school district in Tennessee has nonetheless rejected the application of a Hillsdale-affiliated charter school – but the education reformers are fighting back.
American Classical Education (ACE) is trying to start K-5 charters in several Tennessee districts, but one of its applications was denied by the Jackson-Madison County Board of Education.
Charter schools are one of the most widely accepted forms of school choice. As with traditional public schools, they are publicly funded, tuition-free and available to all, but are independently operated at the school level.
The board claimed the application was rejected for various reasons, including a negative financial impact on the district, a lack of confirmed location for the school and a lack of academic rigor.
But as school choice advocate Corey DeAngelis points out, local school districts aren’t exactly providing academic rigor themselves.
And when district Superintendent Marlon King claimed students are making progress, DeAngelis accused him of “celebrating trapping kids in your failing government schools.” DeAngelis notes that King makes $185,000 a year, and is effectively monopolizing K-12 education by eliminating potential competition.
Despite its initial rejection, ACE is appealing to the Tennessee Public Charter School Commission to overturn the county board’s decision.
ACE says its goals are to “train students in virtue, resulting in high academic achievement and the sound moral formation required for responsible citizenship.” Its curriculum includes literature, mathematics, history, science, fine arts, Latin and physical education.
Its Tennessee appeal cites declining test scores, worsening graduation rates and chronic absenteeism in Jackson-Madison, and accuses the board of having a lack of integrity during the review process.
“There is a clear need for increasing and enhancing educational opportunities for families and school-aged children in the East Jackson-area,” the appeal says. “The establishment of a classical charter school accessible to all – regardless of wealth, status, or other advantages – would benefit all.”