"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, July 25, 2022

Why White Nationalist, Larry Arnn, Says Professional Teachers Are the "Dumbest"

In 2011 the neo-conservative website, Human Events, published its list of the ten most harmful books of the 19th and 20th Centuries.  Coming in at #5, right between The Kinsey Report and Das Kapital, was Democracy and Education by John Dewey.  While it may be obvious why wealthy white supremacists would flag Marx and Kinsey, why John Dewey, you may ask.  

The giveaway is in the title, of course, because Dewey's posited that the American democratic aspirations made explicit in the Bill of Rights and other founding documents might be achieved only through the practice of democratic living, which would include, of course, democratic schooling. 

Rather than modeling an embryonic form of democratic living, as Dewey would have schools do, elite paternalists like Arnn want schools to promote an extreme conservative mash-up of protestantism, capitalism, and jingoistic patriotism.  And since 2011, conservatism has become even more narrow, more strident, and more hostile to public institutions that promote democracy.  

The conservative movement has known for decades that the inevitable browning of America and the continued secularization of the Western world would eventually endanger America's 400-year rule by white protestant male elites, and so it comes as no surprise to see Arnn's employer, Hillsdale College, pushing hard to 1) seed its right wing corporate charter schools in as many parts of the country as possible, and 2) attack, diminish, and smear the concept and practice of public education whenever possible.

Before coming to Hillsdale College as President, Arnn spent 15 years as President of the Claremont Institute (1985-2000), which is the intellectual home of John Eastman, who most recently provided the "legal" argument upon which the 2001 Trump insurrection was based. Today Hillsdale serves as a training ground for future Institute "scholars" like Eastman and his fascist collaborators at Claremont.  

This closed circuit between Claremont and Hillsdale that Arnn now oversees constitutes the politically-indecent pseudo-intellectual circle jerk that remains one of the leading threat to American democracy and the rule of non-sectarian law in this country.

Arnn also serves as education advisor to Tennessee's governor, Bill Lee, who you will see in this video sitting quietly on the stage and sipping from his water bottle as Arnn entertains a closed-door meeting of like-minded crusaders with the most outrageous insults and lies about teachers, teacher preparation, and public education in general.  

Since Arnn's comments last month, Lee has said nothing to repudiate Arnn's insults. Last Wednesday Lee did say that he has conversed with Arnn since then, and that "he talked, and I listened." Sounds about right. 

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