Hamilton Co. School Board responds to controversial comments

Chairman Tucker McClendon says he will "always stand" with educators

HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) — Recent comments by Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn concerning teachers’ intelligence have sparked national controversy.

Earlier this month, Arnn claimed that teachers “are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges.”

This put Tennessee Governor Bill Lee in the hot seat with some on the board for failing to rebuke his comments.

On Thursday, July 14, District 8 board member Tucker McClendon tweeted that he will “always stand with our educators” in lieu of Arnn’s comments and the governor’s lack of response.

“There’s a time to do the right thing when it’s hard and it upsets the applecart or upsets the people that kind of hold the real power, may it be,” McClendon said. “All of us have connections to teachers and know the integral part that they play in our students’ lives.”

But not all members of the board desire to pass the resolution.

District 5 Member Karitsa Jones says a failure to do so would isolate Superintendent Dr. Justin Robertson, who penned his support to county educators following the comments.

“We’re supposed to show our community that we support them and we’re supposed to show our one employee that we support him,” Jones said. “I feel like in not doing this, we leave Justin out there by himself.”

“He was criticizing the Department of Education, the National Association of Education Unions, and a number of universities for their accreditation programs, not teachers per se,” said District 1 School Board Member Rhonda Thurman. “I happen to agree with him on many of those.”

“This is indicative of who the governor has around him,” said District 6 School Jenny Hill. “When you welcome, for example, a male chauvinist to your barbeque and he speaks poorly about women on the regular, the likelihood you never speak up makes you a chauvinist, too.”

“I don’t like the language in this resolution at all,” said District 3 School Board Member Joe Smith. “If the language was kind of cleaned up and just addressed what Dr. Arnn said, I can get on board with it. But I can’t get on board with criticizing the governor.”

In a USA Today article, that he wrote, Arnn says his comments were meant to reflect that many of today’s teachers are trained to “push for standardization” in a “politicized environment.”

There was no vote on the resolution tonight, but there will be at the school board’s next monthly meeting this upcoming Thursday.

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