The following letter was written by Bloomington resident Janet Stake.
To the members of the Charter School Board:
I am writing to let you know my thoughts regarding the new proposed charter called Seven Oaks Classical School in Bloomington, Indiana. I have many concerns--including the fact that five of the seven board members are personal friends--- but my main concern is that this school is being guided by Hillsdale College through their Barney Charter School Initiative. Hillsdale College is an extremely conservative college that attracts religious fundamentalists and classic libertarians. Since Hillsdale College is a private school, and they are all adults, I acknowledge their right to believe what they want to believe, and to teach what they want to teach.
But I do have a problem with their single-mindedness when Hillsdale College wants to extend their slanted and extreme political point of view to K-12 education with public monies. Although couched in seemingly innocuous terminology such as moral character, civic virtue, and classical liberal arts, make no mistake, when you dig deeper you can clearly see that there is a political agenda.
For example, you can see evidence of this agenda on the Seven Oaks Classical School's website, under the heading of "Classical Education Resources". A predominant number of books, articles, and videos come from Hillsdale faculty and other like-minded people. For example, the video entitled "Undoing of Dewey" by Terrence Moore from Hillsdale College, is an hour-long seminar for teachers that basically bashes traditional public schools for not really teaching anyone anything worthwhile. Dr. Moore uses a litany of anecdotes to misrepresent John Dewey's philosophy and to illustrate how bad the public schools are, as a result of following the philosophy of John Dewey.
Another example of the radical mission of the Hillsdale College's foray into promoting charters is openly stated in the second paragraph of the Barney Charter School Initiative's educational philosophy statement:
"This mission has led us to consider how we can lead in the effort to recover our public schools from the tide of a hundred years of progressivism that has corrupted our nation’s original faithfulness to the previous 24 centuries of teaching the young the liberal arts in the West. The public school is arguably among the most important battlegrounds in our war to reclaim our country from forces that have drawn so many away from first principles. Almost 90 percent of our nation’s youth attend public schools, and there is no question that public education across America is in trouble."
Please also note that the Seven Oaks School, noted on their application, would most likely hire their headmaster from Hillsdale College.
This is a political movement, even a "war", as openly stated on their website. I do not want anyone, from the right or the left, to be able to politicize our children's education. I especially do not want the most extreme groups, such as those at Hillsdale College, to be able to indoctrinate our children with their views. These are not mainstream views. These are people who believe that Barack Obama is not a legitimate president. These are people who believe that President Obama is a Kenyan Socialist. The right wing bloggers and the right wing media, such as Rush Limbaugh, laud Hillsdale College for its extreme political positions.
I want our children in Monroe County to be educated, not indoctrinated. I would greatly prefer that my tax dollars stay in MCCSC and RBB public schools where children are encouraged to become independent thinkers through critically analyzing, questioning, and evaluating all sides of issues.
Please do not approve the charter for Seven Oaks.