Governor Lee is pushing for dozens of conservative-leaning charter schools to partner with Hillsdale College

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Governor Bill Lee, a Republican, wants more charter schools in Tennessee. But his public partnership with conservative Hillsdale College is drawing disapproval from public school education advocates, pastors and parents.

The controversial religiously-leaned charter school could arrive in Tennessee neighborhoods soon after a new school funding formula is passed.

“Hillsdale charter schools in our state will be secular public schools of formal education,” Governor Lee said.

He touts his relationship with Hillsdale, a private Christian school in Michigan with close ties to former President Trump’s administration. “I am encouraged by the expansion and growth of charter schools and all public schools in our state,” Lee added.

But Hillsdale writes in their mission statement:

“As a nonsectarian Christian institution, Hillsdale College upholds ‘by precept and example’ the age-old teachings and practices of the Christian faith.”

Reverend Dr. Kevin Riggs is the pastor of Franklin Community Church. “Governor Lee is funding his pet project using taxpayer dollars to fund Christian charter schools,” Riggs said.

The deal made by Lee and the president of Hillsdale to bring about 50 to 100 charter schools to the state does not sit well with parents, pastors and lawyers.

“Overtime, as charter schools cause existing schools to become both under-enrolled and under-funded, districts find themselves with the difficult discussion of whether to close neighborhood schools to try to offset the cost of funding charter schools,” said Amy Frogge, executive director of Pastors. for the children of Tennessee.

Governor Lee presents millions of dollars in his budget for Hillsdale and other charter schools.

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Frogge reading a letter from a former charter school parent at a clergy press rally on the charter schools initiative said, “Charter schools are just another way for entities deprived of funneling money into their own pockets, they use black and brown students to get what they want.”

Democrats call the support for Hillsdale an indoctrination effort. “I think ultimately it’s an end to trying to institute good ones in Tennessee, I think he wants to start a brand new private school that’s going to be indoctrinating Christian kids.”

Tennessee is ranked in the bottom five when it comes to public school funding. Schools are underfunded by the legislature, about $2 billion a year.

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