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Taking Back America By Taking Back Our Schools

Hillsdale College Sponsors Classical K-12 Charters

17 December 2013 The Report Card


By Bill Korach

The Report Card spoke with Phillip Kilgore, Director of the Barney Charter Schools a concept developed by Hillsdale College. Hillsdale College is a strong defender of America’s founding Judeo-Christian principles and the Constitution, which is an expression of those liberties and traditions. Mr. Kilgore stated that the encouragement of classical charter schools was the idea of Hillsdale President Dr. Larry Arnn who was seriously concerned about the deterioration of American public school from their peak of about 80 years ago.  Given Hillsdale’s mission, the development is a natural:

“The College considers itself a trustee of modern man’s intellectual and spiritual inheritance from the Judeo-Christian faith and Greco-Roman culture, a heritage finding its clearest expression in the American experiment of self-government under law.

By training the young in the liberal arts, Hillsdale College prepares students to become leaders worthy of that legacy. By encouraging the scholarship of its faculty, it contributes to the preservation of that legacy for future generations. By publicly defending that legacy, it enlists the aid of other friends of free civilization and thus secures the conditions of its own survival and independence.”

The Barney Charter School Initiative is a project of Hillsdale College devoted to the education of young Americans. Through this initiative, the College will support the launch of K-12 charter schools. These schools will train the minds and improve the hearts of young people through a rigorous, classical education in the liberal arts and sciences, with instruction in the principles of moral character and civic virtue.

Reform of American public education, to be successful and good, must be built on a foundation of classical liberal arts learning—the kind of learning best suited to a free society and most needed for its preservation. The Barney Charter School Initiative is an important step in that direction.

Mr. Kilgore says: “We currently have four schools in operation, and four more are set to come on line in 2014. Our goal is to have 50 schools by 2022.”

I asked Mr. Kilgore if he would like to see Barney Charter Schools in every state: “I’d love to see schools in every state but we are limited by the people resources to train school founders about a Classical Curriculum, how to train and hire teachers, and inculcating the founders with our mission. Our training is intense and we have an ongoing relationship with the schools. As a result, we are fully committed until the 2016 school year because of those resource limitations. We do encourage interested parties to start a conversation if they are interested in opening a Barney Charter.”

What parameters are involved with opening a Barney Charter?

“We ask that founders open K-10 at minimum and K-12 if possible. We believe this permits the school to hire a better level of administrators and teachers. Middle school can be difficult to staff, but high school teachers are usually willing to teach middle school as well.

Our business model call for each charter to be locally owned, so founders are responsible for location selection, financing, and site selection. We can provide guidance, but it is up to the founders.”

I mentioned to Mr. Kilgore that Great Hearts CMO had been denied a charter in Tennessee and just last month was denied a charter in Dallas on accusation by some that Great Hearts was trying to focus on “white upper middle class students” to the detriment of the regular public schools.  While The Report Card learned that the accusations were false, they did harm Great Hearts politically. I asked Dr. Kilgore if that type of difficulty occurred with any of the Barney school initiatives.

“No, we have not experienced that because our charters are locally founded and operated, so there is no sense that we are coming in from the outside.”

How does Mr. Kilgore feel about the Common Core Standard?

“My colleague, Dr. Terre

nce Moore recently wrote The Story Killers a book about the harm Common Core will cause. We are opposed to Common Core and believe it is a threat to good education and to the Classical approach to learning. We would like to see it rolled back, but hope that our teaching methods will permit our students to manage the testing process if the Common Core becomes embedded.”

Schools Open



Schools Scheduled to Open in 2014



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