MSNBC Accuses GOP Of Pushing ‘Christian Nationalism’ In Schools

News & Politics

Alex Wagner concluded her first week as MSNBC’s newest primetime host on Friday by alleging that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and others seeking to use public schools to promote “Christian nationalism” at the expense of real history and civics.

During a conversation with Salon’s Kathryn Joyce took aim at the left’s latest boogeyman: Hillsdale College, “And how is Hillsdale – talk more about the connection between Hillsdale and Ron DeSantis specifically. We know that [Hillsdale President] Larry Arnn is a big fan of Ron DeSantis. But Hillsdale’s actually in some of the Florida laws regarding education. What happened there?”

Joyce reported that Hillsdale was one of the advisors Florida called on to make their civics curriculum “more, quote unquote, ‘patriotic.’” 

Making civics curriculum patriotic seems like common sense—the next generation should believe the system they are about to enter into is a good and just one– but for Joyce it reeks of Christian nationalism, “Hillsdale was also involved in the teacher training. The training of teachers to implement this new civic standards that a lot of them, you know, reportedly, the Miami Herald had amazing reporting on this, felt that this was, you know, promoting Christian nationalism, that this was minimizing slavery and the history of racism in the U.S.”

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When it comes to teaching history, there is no prohibition on talking about slavery and racism. What teachers can’t do is teach based off some hard-left understanding of history such as The 1619 Project.

Moving along, Wagner wondered if there was another, unstated goal, “when you hear about all this, this overhaul of the public school curricula, the lessons, the way teachers can teach, there’s also a secondary push towards charter schools. Is that fair? Is that the endgame in all of this?”

Joyce agreed that is “part of the goal,” but that “Christian nationalism” is still key, “So, Hillsdale College, back in 2010, started this network of public charters. Public classical education charters around the country, that were teaching a curriculum that is kind of really big on American exceptionalism, Western civilization, the idea that the U.S. was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, which is sort of secularized language for Christian nationalism.” 

It is not, but Joyce kept going, “they have grown to have an influence and 53 these schools around the country that are paid for by public tax dollars but are advancing this very private school classical education –“

Wagner interrupted to add Joyce’s two favorite words, “Christian nationalism.” Joyce naturally agreed and warned it isn’t just DeSantis, “Exactly… Governor Bill Lee in Tennessee announced that he wanted to create 50 of these Hillsdale-affiliated charter schools in Tennessee. Other states have, you know, expressed interest in implementing Hillsdale’s curricula. So it really has quite a big footprint.” 

Better Hillsdale than the New York Times.

This segment was sponsored by Olay.

Here is a transcript for the August 19 show:

MSNBC Alex Wagner Tonight

8/19/2022

9:18 PM ET

ALEX WAGNER: And how is Hillsdale – talk more about the connection between Hillsdale and Ron DeSantis specifically. We know that Larry Arnn is a big fan of Ron DeSantis. But Hillsdale’s actually in some of the Florida laws regarding education. What happened there? 

KATHRYN JOYCE: Yeah. Absolutely. Several years ago, Florida decided to completely overhaul its civic standards, which is basically kind of the overarching framework that civics curriculum would be based on in the state. They wanted to make it more, quote unquote, “patriotic.” 

WAGNER: We reported on that on Wednesday. 

JOYCE: Absolutely, that was wonderful and so Hillsdale College is one of the organizations that Florida tapped to advise on this project and more recently, and I believe I saw this in your coverage on Wednesday, Hillsdale was also involved in the teacher training. The training of teachers to implement this new civic standards that a lot of them, you know, reportedly, the Miami Herald had amazing reporting on this, felt that this was, you know, promoting Christian nationalism, that this was minimizing slavery and the history of racism in the U.S.

WAGNER: So Hillsdale’s central to all this. Hillsdale also has some affiliated networks around the country and it looks like when you hear about all this, this overhaul of the public school curricula, the lessons, the way teachers can teach, there’s also a secondary push towards charter schools. Is that fair? Is that the endgame in all of this? 

I mean we talk about, sort of, the way and which Ron DeSantis has made public education a difficult concept? It’s difficult for teachers, it’s difficult for parents, it’s difficult for students and school board members – is the driving goal here to get kids in charter schools? 

JOYCE: Well, I mean, that’s at least part of the goal. So, Hillsdale College, back in 2010, started this network of public charters. Public classical education charters around the country, that were teaching a curriculum that is kind of really big on American exceptionalism, Western civilization, the idea that the U.S. was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, which is sort of secularized language for Christian nationalism. 

And, since then, they have grown to have an influence and 53 these schools around the country that are paid for by public tax dollars but are advancing this very private school classical education – 

WAGNER: Christian nationalism. 

JOYCE: Exactly. And so, you know, since then, that is become a driving push in a lot of different places. Florida has a number of these schools. Tennessee recently, in the state of the state address in January, Governor Bill Lee in Tennessee announced that he wanted to create 50 of these Hillsdale-affiliated charter schools in Tennessee. Other states have, you know, expressed interest in implementing Hillsdale’s curricula. So it really has quite a big footprint.  

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