Last week on MSNBC, The 11th Hour with the not-so-bright host Stephanie Ruhle tag-teamed with leftist Twitter snob, raging hypocrite, and Hack Madness mainstay Judd Legum to throw a hysterical hissy fit over conservatives launching a charter school in South Carolina and Hillsdale College writing grade-school curriculums teaching students to — wait for it — love America.
“And Moms for Liberty pushing their agenda in the classroom. All at the expense of taxpayers. We’ll get into the impact this could have an education,” Ruhle whined in the first of three teases.
While the second tease huffed about the dangers of conservatives polluting young minds by “teaching from the book of MAGA” (even though the 1619 Project is probably fine with her), the third was comical as she demanded viewers not make a late-night drink or go to bed because she would be talking about “[h]ow the far-right…is getting their own MAGA agenda in the classrooms.”
She brought in Legum with more hyperventilating:
Moms for Liberty activists in South Carolina are taking the group’s mission a step further this week. They are launching their own charter school called the Ashley River Classical Academy. Students will learn from the 1776 Curriculum, or, as one historian calls it, “the red [MAGA] hat in textbook form.” And one might think with a name like Ashley River Classical Academy, it would be an expensive private school that families were shelling out big bucks in tuition for. But here’s the shocking part: They’re not paying anything. They are using your tax dollars to do this whole thing.
Pants on fire, Stephanie. The school isn’t a Moms for Liberty petri dish. While three Ashley River Classical Academy board members are, to varying degrees, involved with Moms for Liberty, they don’t constitute a majority and none of them are the board chair.
Legum explained the gist of a post on his Substack, Popular Information, that “the whole group of Moms for Liberty activists came together to start up this school and…structured it” so there would be “essentially no oversight for this new school” launching next school year.
Worse yet for this clown was that “they’re planning on using…this curriculum called the 1776 Curriculum” from Hillsdale College and “flows directly out of the Trump administration, who had a — a 1776 Commission to establish more patriotic education.”
Nevermind that, for example, New York City Public Schools had a map without Israel, New Jersey was promoting far-left activism in kindergarten, Nebraska’s education department colluded with a Planned Parenthood official on sex ed, and Fairfax County, Virginia schools shelled out thousands for a leftist commentator. Ruhle was almost certainly fine with those acts of politicization in public schools.
But a private school wanting to expose students to a Judeo-Christian education? MSNBC is acting like this is a school that’ll teach, say, Holocaust denialism or use a swastika for its logo (which they aren’t) (click “expand”):
RUHLE: Okay, but explain how it even works — right — that they could finagle a system that they are avoiding any regulation or oversight. Because, on its surface, they kind of like to present, you know, we are Moms for Liberty, we’re gonna create this traditional education environment for kids. But you’ve got to know some pretty sophisticated structuring to get around regulation and oversight. This isn’t just a bunch of concerned moms.
LEGUM: Yeah. So, typically in South Carolina, the charter schools are overseen either by a — a state body that’s set up for that or the local school board. And they’ll both approve the applications for charter schools and then also keep track of how they’re doing and, if they’re not doing well, they can revoke the charter, which they have done in the past. There was a provision put into the charter school law in South Carolina that said, oh, also, if a college or university wants to get involved in sponsoring a school, they can do so too. And a very small, Christian — right-wing Christian school, or Erskine — Erskine College, which has its staff and students sign an oath before enrolling saying that they believe homosexuality is a sin and abortion is a sin, so a very fundamentalist institution, has gotten into this business of sponsoring charter schools. And they’ve done it, it seems, because they’ve been in severe financial distress and they’re able to collect two percent of the money that the state provides to the charter schools that it sponsors, so only this very small Christian college will have any oversight over the school that’s being set up by Moms for Liberty. And — and the state really has no role.
Pivoting to Hillsdale and its 1776 Curriculum, she whined the school is “very strong” and “conservative…with hugely powerful friends in D.C. and endowment to the tune of 900 million bucks.”
Legum pigeon-holed Hillsdale in the way you’d expect, blasting President Larry Arnn for having taken the work from President Trump’s 1776 Commission and made it palatable for schools so it “downplays the role of slavery in the United States, downplays discrimination against women, does all sorts of things that, you know, you might — be looked well upon by — by the MAGA crowd”.
Ruhle concluded in horror: “My goodness. We must, must continue to pay attention to this. Education is everything. Knowledge is power and just think about these brand-new schools with a totally different game plan.”
Time for some fact-checks.
They contended the curriculum is based on some pollyannaish commission from the Trump administration that — horrors! — spoke positively of the Founders (since Legum views them and their Founding documents as evil).
If that’s the case, then why did the 45-page report not only call for an education that focuses on how “the American story has its share of missteps, errors, contradictions, and wrongs”, but “have always met resistance from the clear principles of the nation, and therefore our history is far more one of selfsacrifice, courage, and nobility.”
In its section on Jim Crow, the Commission wrote this about America’s backslide (click “expand”):
The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, passed after the Civil War, brought an end to legal slavery. Blacks enjoyed a new equality and freedom, voting for and holding elective office in states across the Union. But it did not bring an end to racism, or to the unequal treatment of blacks everywhere.
Despite the determined efforts of the postwar Reconstruction Congress to establish civil equality for freed slaves, the postbellum South ended up devolving into a system that was hardly better than slavery. The system enmeshed freedmen in relationships of extreme dependency, and used poll taxes, literacy tests, and the violence of vigilante groups like the Ku Klux Klan to prevent them from exercising their civil rights, particularly the right to vote. Jim Crow laws enforced the strict segregation of the races, and gave legal standing in some states to a pervasive subordination of blacks.
It would take a national movement composed of people from different races, ethnicities, nationalities, and religions to bring about an America fully committed to ending legal discrimination. The Civil Rights Movement culminated in the 1960s with the passage of three major legislative reforms affecting segregation, voting, and housing rights. It presented itself, and was understood by the American people, as consistent with the principles of the founding.
On women, the Commission wrote that “women’s suffrage” was one of many “great reforms…that improve[d] our dedication fo the principles of the Declaration of Independence under the Constitution” and that not only men, but also “women…have changed America for the better.”
None of that sounded sexist and segregationist to us! And, Judd, if you’re reading this, we have a question for you: What is a woman?
Pivoting to the school itself, Legum and Ruhle should know classical education isn’t political, as students will not only study history, but other basic subjects like math, reading, science, and even physical education.
Legum’s Substack piece was even more pathetic in its half-baked propaganda.
Legum spilled ink blasting Ashley River’s Head of School, Alexandria Spry, as a failed educator in Florida at the Jacksonville Classical Academy East:
For the 2022-23 school year, when Spry served as Head of School, Jacksonville Classical Academy East received a grade of “F” from the Florida Department of Education. The school, under Spry’s leadership, saw a low percentage of students receiving passing grades in state assessments for English (29%), math (23%), and science (12%).
Fact-check: False. Legum left out a few key facts. First, this was Jacksonville Classical Academy East’s first year in an impoverished neighborhood, which led to the second point that the student body was disadvantaged but diverse (50 percent black student body with 40 percent economically disadvantaged) and had fled failing public schools exacerbated by their high-crime, high-poverty surroundings.
In turn, students weren’t immediately proficient and, unfortunately, struggled to begin the year, but saw dramatic improvements as the year went on. Legum, of course, ignored this.
According to Florida Department of Education statistics, Spry’s students went from 85 percent being “well below grade level” in October to only 44 percent in May. For reading, the story was much the same with 65 percent failure in October to only 38 percent falling “well below” in May.
This former Think Progress tool should have a basic understanding of how students need time and space to learn and improve throughout the year as the graduate of the ultra-wealthy Ponoma College and Georgetown Law. He’s supposed to be smarter than all of us, right?
But most importantly, Legum should know because his mother has spent over four decades at the selective Key School, a private school in Annapolis where the cost for pre-K starts over $16,000 and high school (“upper school”) can run north of $33,000.
To see the relevant MSNBC transcript from December 17, click here.