MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee took a myriad of questions from reporters for the first time in weeks after making an appearance at an EMS conference.
The questions he took ranged from abortion to the food tax holiday in August to the same-sex marriage vote in Congress.
But the most recent news he addressed was that of American Classical Academy. Two Tennessee counties’ school systems rejected an application from the charter school backed by Hillsdale College in Michigan.
Hillsdale President Larry Arnn came under fire late last month for saying to Lee at a conference, “Teachers are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country.”
Earlier this year, Lee announced a partnership for Hillsdale College to sponsor 50 charter schools throughout the state.
That brings us to this week, with the Rutherford County Board of Education rejecting the American Classical Academy’s application Monday. The Clarksville-Montgomery County School Board rejected it Tuesday.
“There’s a lot of conversation about other people’s words,” Lee said. “There are a lot of folks who actually don’t want choice for families and for parents, and there’s a lot of pushback on that.”
The governor said he and Arnn had spoken since Arnn’s controversial comments in late June, though he wouldn’t expand on what was said.
“He talked, and I listened,” Lee said.
Lee did distance himself a bit from Arnn by saying 50 Hillsdale charter schools was not his vision.
“We have the best and brightest teachers in the country, we have the opportunity to have the best public school system in the country,” Lee said. “That’s my vision.”
American Classical Academy can appeal to the Tennessee Public Charter Commission, which does have the authority to override local school boards. The governor wouldn’t say whether he’d like the school to do so.
“I welcome any and all high-quality operators,” Lee said. “But the actual decider of who is high quality and who belongs in the state is a process.”