Madison County Current Status
Many of the arguments that led to the Jackson Madison County School Board rejecting the American Classical Education Proposal at their APRIL and July meetings were based on data and sources that were used in California and other districts. This makes no sense when we are considering the ACES Charter school application for schools in OUR community here in Madison County. The use of false or mis-information to get people to believe a certain way is not of any benefit. To determine the success of this school, students will take the same tests that all public school students take. Also understand that the local school district won't have to fund the teachers NOR the building for this ACE Charter School public school OPTION. JMCSS has had a mass exodus to local private schools and home schooling families who seek a better education for their children. Had JMCSS approved this ACE Application, they would have seen a RETURN of funding because many families who had left would have likely returned to this new Classical Education Charter School. Sadly, the school board chose not to do so.
At this point, the meeting on Monday, Sept. 18 at 10 am at the JMCSS building on North Parkway is before the Tennessee Public Charter School Commission. Should that commission choose to approve this ACE Charter school for Madison County, this public charter school will be FREE to any family choosing to select this OPTION - up to the number of students the school can serve. The JMCSS School Board will have no control over this school - having twice rejected the application.
A We the People of West TN member and JMCSS School Board Member, Harvey Walden has expressed his position in written comments, since a business trip will prevent him from being at the 9-18-23 meeting. It is with his permission that we share Harvey's position.
"My name is Harvey Walden.
I'm a resident of Madison County and my school district is #4 and position 1.'m also a school board member in that district.
The reason I'm submitting my comments in writing is to explain why I, as a school board member voted in favor of the public charter school ACE application.
Back in December of 2022, when ACE informed our district they would be pursing opening a public charter school in Madison County TN, I reached out to them and asked in what area they were intending to open a school in our county. ACE immediately responded that they were wanting to work with the East Jackson area.
Once they made available their application, I personally printed it off , all 503 pages. Then I printed off the rubric. I graded the application with the rubric and, in my opinion, I came up with a totally different determination than the research committee. I asked to be part of the research committee and was turned down. When the research committee brought their recommendation to the board, there were several things with which I did not agree.
One was the fixed cost of $1.4 million annually to our district. When I asked about the 4-year study the state did back in 2012 that showed any district having 5,000 or more students had no fixed cost to the district, it was like I didn't even ask a question. The next reason was the curriculum ACE chose to use. The research committee said it wasn't state-approved. I found out that many public charter schools in TN are using the same curriculum ACE had in their application. So, in my mind if other public charter schools are using this curriculum in TN, it must be approved. So, I looked up a handful of those schools to see if they were successful. They are all doing an amazing job.
The reason I voted in favor for ACE is because of my representation of the students in District 6, which is the East Jackson community. In English over 90% of those students don't read on their grade level. This has been going on for years. It breaks my heart. This is 2023. Why can't we as educated adults do something about this? We as a district need help for our students and their families. If a student can't read by the 4th grade they will have a very difficult time in school and the rest of their lives.
I respectfully ask the State of TN to allow ACE to have a charter school in our East Jackson community.
Harvey Walden "
American Classical Academy Charter School Facts
What to Expect in American Classical Education Schools (ACE)
American Classical Education believes the timeless and rigorous model of classical education should be available to all students who desire it. Our schools train students in virtue, resulting in high academic achievement and the sound moral formation required for responsible citizenship. Utilizing classical methods, rooted in our Western and American heritage, our curriculum inspires joy and wonder to cultivate a habit of life-long learning.
All students study literature and mathematics, history and the sciences, the fine arts, Latin, and physical education because the K-12 years are the years in which we are still coming to know ourselves and the world around us. The successful development of literacy and numeracy and a solid foundation in the core subjects is necessary before advanced training and study.
What IS a Classical Education?
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American Classical Education K-12 curriculum was developed through the work of Hillsdale College and with contributions from Hillsdale's member schools, according to a Hillsdale College education website.
According to ACA applications, curriculum would support mastery of Tennessee’s state standards through systematic phonics instruction, Singapore math, a focus on American history, civics, government, use of the Socratic Method and the study of Latin beginning in the sixth grade, for example, as well as a focus on the arts and athletics.
Gov. Bill Lee and education commissioner Penny Schwinn met and attended several events hosted by Hillsdale in 2021. At one of these events, Arnn said he wanted to open 50 new Hillsdale-backed charter schools in Tennessee.
These conversations and meetings led Lee to announce a partnership with Hillsdale at his State of the State address.
In that speech, Lee said K-12 curriculum in Tennessee needs "true American history, unbiased and nonpolitical."