Jul 01, 2022
Republican wants guy who ridiculed public school teachers to set up 100 charter schools in his state
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Local outlet NewsChannel 5 has obtained pretty damning hidden camera video from a private reception with Tennessee’s Republican Gov. Bill Lee. Per this video, Dr. Larry Arnn, who serves as president of the super conservative Hillsdale College in TK, Michigan, and who hosted the reception, mocked public school teachers.
How so? He repeatedly doubted their intelligence by suggesting they’re trained in the “dumbest” parts of the “dumbest” colleges in the country. He questioned how committed they actually are to teaching their students. Probably unsurprisingly at this point, he also ridiculed efforts to make higher education more inclusive and diverse.
Per the outlet, the video is close to two hours. Lee praises Arnn. He doesn’t offer up a drop of protection for the public school teachers in his state. And this is about the place where it’s good to know Lee has offered Arnn the change to set up at least 50 charter schools in the state—and he originally hoped for Arnn to establish 100.
RELATED STORY: Critical race theory paranoia could cost Tennessee schools real dollars, up to $5 million
"In colleges, what you hire now is administrators,” Arnn said in part, describing “diversity officers” who have degrees in education. “It's easy,” he added. “You don't have to know anything." He went on to say “education destroys generations of people” and that it’s “devastating” like a “plague.” Arnn went on to say that you don’t have to be an “expert” to teach a child and that “basically anybody” can do it.
"If you work in a college, you'll know this,” Arnn told those in attendance. “Unless you work in the ed department. Ours is different. But they are the dumbest part of every college.”
Mocking and ridiculing public school teachers is incredibly bleak. And that’s without us remembering that educators are continuing to teach amid the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers from all over the country—very much including Tennessee—are overworked, underpaid, and are trying to juggle anti-mask parents, book bans, and critical race theory (CRT) hysteria all while trying to do the jobs they worked hard to get. (It should go without saying that education degrees are not a joke.)
Arnn can (obviously) have his personal views. But it’s abhorrent that Lee couldn’t find it within himself to defend his teachers (or their intelligence) against the absolute onslaught of ridicule Arnn was pushing. Arnn cozying up to establish dozens of public schools in the state only adds to the nightmare.
You can watch clips from the local coverage here, including some of the hidden camera footage.Poll 98 votes Show Results Do you believe public school teachers in the U.S. deserve more respect as a whole? Yes No Unsure, need more information 98 votes Vote Now! Do you believe public school teachers in the U.S. deserve more respect as a whole? Yes 96 votes No 2% 2 votes Unsure, need more information 0% 0 votes Daily Kos relies on readers like you. We don't have billionaire backers like some right-wing media outlets. Half our revenue comes from readers like you, meaning we literally couldn't do this work without you. Can you donate $3 right now to help Daily Kos keep fighting?
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Heather Heyer’s Mom Wants America to Remember Charlottesville, and Wake Up to Fascism
Sometimes Susan Bro sits in her car near Heather Heyer Way, the street in Charlottesville, Virginia, named in honor of her daughter. “I blow kisses to her, have a snack. I say I am eating my lunch with her,” Bro told The Daily Beast.
On Friday—five years to the day that Heyer, 32, was murdered by white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr.—Bro was planning to go to the site where her daughter was struck by Fields’ car, as near to the time it happened on August 12, 2017. While she has been to the street, or driven by it, many times before, this would be the first time Bro has visited the location—on Fourth Street, between Market and Water Streets—on the actual anniversary of her daughter’s death.
Heyer was killed when Fields drove his Dodge Challenger into a group of anti-Nazi and anti-white supremacist protesters—Heyer among them—who had gathered to raise their voices against the white supremacists, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, Klansmen, neo-Nazis and various militias who had descended on Charlottesville for a Unite the Right rally, organized by Charlottesville resident Jason Kessler.
The images of a far-right march held the night before, with anti-Semitic chanting and flaming tiki torches, and of the aftermath of the carnage Fields caused remain starkly notorious. Over 30 other people were injured by Fields’ car. In July 2019, he was sentenced to life plus 419 years in prison on state charges.
Then-president Donald Trump blamed “many sides” for the Charlottesville violence, and said there “very fine people” on both of those sides. After seeing these remarks, Bro would not take his calls, and told The Daily Beast she had “thankfully” never heard from him in the days, months, and years afterwards. She won plaudits for speaking so powerfully at her daughter’s memorial service, delivering a fully rounded vision of Heyer’s life, where she also stated: “They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well guess what, you just magnified her.”
Five years on, Bro remains president of the Heather Heyer Foundation, dedicated to “creating positive social change,” sharing Heyer’s motto: “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”“It’s not only blossoming outward in extremism, but also trying to take root in more mainstream ways through government offices, policy, gerrymandering, and ‘voting un-rights’ as I call it”— Susan Bro
For Bro, Charlottesville “was the opening act” for the advance of white supremacy and fascism she sees “in full bloom” in the America of today. “We are definitely in a position of more confrontation, it’s full-on now,” she told The Daily Beast. “It’s not only blossoming outward in extremism, but it’s also trying to take root in more mainstream ways through government offices, through policy, through gerrymandering, through ‘voting un-rights’ as I call it, not ‘voting rights.’ There is a huge effort to not just take us backwards but sideways from where we need to go. It has all definitely expanded from what happened in Charlottesville. That should have made the public pay attention.”
Bro insists she tries “not to be partisan,” but that these efforts are being spearheaded by Republican state legislators and politicians. “I am never pessimistic, always optimistic. We can make a difference. But I am also sending out a clarion call to pay attention to the mid-terms, government elections, state representative elections, anything that elects people to positions of power like secretaries of state, and anyone who controls election outcomes in states, who can heavily influence how presidential elections are counted.
“There are those in the Republican party who have loudly and clearly declared they are going after those positions so they can control the outcome of elections’ certifications. That’s a threat to democracy. I’m not a fan of the two-party system. I would rather see ranked voting. But this is the system we have and we have to work in it. It’s very alarming to me.”“It would be nice to see someone other than an older white male to vote for.”— Susan Bro
Bro is “hopeful” President Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Democratic Party more generally can counter the far-right ascendancy. “I am sure those activists would like to push a little harder or faster for change to happen,” Bro said. “I look at the history of Nazi Germany and kind of hold my breath—well, not holding my breath, I am yelling. There are certain similarities between then and 2016 that a lot of us have been pointing out since 2016.”
As far as the 2024 presidential election goes, Bro said, “It would be nice to see someone other than an older white male to vote for.”