House Education Committee Chair To Use Influence To Block Charter Schools In General Assembly

Image Credit: / Hillsdale College – Facebook

The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

Representative Mark White, who currently serves as chair of the Tennessee House of Representatives Education Administration Committee boasts that Governor Lee’s plan to allow Hillsdale College to operate charter schools in Tennessee has been “shattered” despite White’s claims to be a long time supporter of School Choice.

In a social media post, White (R-Memphis-District 83), voiced his opposition to the Hillsdale College President and claimed he was attempting to dismantle opposition to the charter school initiative by launching disparaging remarks toward Tennessee teachers.

White wrote, “When the General Assembly convenes again next January any hope that Hillsdale will operate in Tennessee has been shattered.”

A few selections from Hillsdale College President, Larry Arnn, when he spoke at a Williamson County reception attended by Governor Bill Lee include:

• “Ed departments in colleges. If you work in a college you know, unless you work in the ed department. Ours [Hillsdale’s] is different. They are the dumbest part of every college. You can think about why for a minute. If you study physics, there is a subject. … How does the physical world work? That’s hard to figure out. Politics is actually the study of justice. … Literature. They don’t do it much anymore, but you can read the greatest books, the most beautiful books ever written. Education is the study of how to teach. Is that a separate art? I don’t think so.”

• “If you read a book called ‘Abolition of Man’ by C.S. Lewis, you will see how education destroys generations of people. It’s devastating. It’s like a plague. … The teachers are trained in the dumbest part of the dumbest colleges in the country. And they are taught that they are going to do something to those kids. … My wife is English, and she is a gardener, big-time. And she doesn’t talk about what she is going to do to these plants. She talks about what they need. Because if you give them what they need, they will grow.”

• “The philosophic understanding at the heart of modern education is enslavement. … They’re messing with people’s children, and they feel entitled to do anything to them.”

Mainstream media has since run with the “…dumbest part of the dumbest colleges…” quote out of context and used that as fuel for headlines across the state and nationally.  

Governor Lee did not offer any pushback to Arnn’s comments and went on to tell the audience that his goal is for Hillsdale to open 100 charter schools in the Volunteer State.

Representative White, who is outspoken in his support of Tennessee teachers, many of whom have been outraged by mainstream news headlines, said that “the damage is done” for Hillsdale.


In a statement to The Tennessee Lookout, White acknowledged the charter approval process lies outside the Legislature but told the Tennessee Lookout if any bill comes before the Legislature dealing with Hillsdale it will be rejected.

Representative White claims to be a long-time supporter of school choice.  Last year, he sponsored an Open Enrollment bill that passed with bipartisan support.  

The Open Enrollment bill, which became Public Chapter 479, added transparency, gave parents options, and kept school boards from denying students the opportunity to transfer out of a failing school or one that wasn’t meeting their needs. Public Chapter 479 is scheduled to go into effect in advance of the 2022-23 school year.

But… in the General Session this year, White sponsored a bill that aimed to repeal all the changes made by last year’s Open Enrollment bill and allow school districts to return to how they operated in the past where each district was permitted to create their own policy.

According to our sources, districts would use school board decisions to “cherry-pick the best students and trap kids in under-performing/failing/overcrowded schools.”

White’s legislation to undo his previous legislation, however, failed to make it out of committee.

Partially for this attempted overturn of the small bit of School Choice that exists in Tennessee, Representative White made the Top 5 RINOs list in the Tennessee House in The Tennessee Conservative’s 2022 RINO Report and Freedom Caucus Awards.

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As stated in the RINO Report regarding School Choice, “Tennessee government schools are failing students and parents at historic levels and we need non-government alternatives to break the decades-long cycle of disaster.”

While the Hillsdale plan could potentially provide an education alternative for some Tennessee students, White stated, they (Hillsdale) will not be a part of the solution to Tennessee’s educational system problems and said, “this applies to any and all groups that denigrate others to advance their own cause.”

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White has posted on social media several times recently touting his support for Tennessee teachers.

One post from July 10th states, “As Chairman of the Education Committee I have been fortunate to work with educators across the state and have seen first hand the dedication they have to their students, bettering the education system, and providing a quality classroom setting.”

In another post, White states that his goal is to “support our Tennessee teachers…”

Meanwhile, as education officials across Tennessee are celebrating successes made on last year’s state assessments, the state’s students still are not quite up to par as more than 25% of them are still scoring below grade levels in some areas.

This year, over 36% of students show that they are “on track” for their grade level on English language arts assessments. This is an increase from the previous year’s mastery level of 29%. 

However, the number of students scoring below grade level also increased from 23.8% last year to 25.8% this year. This is the highest rate of students falling below since 2017.

An additional 39.1% of students fell in the “approaching” category, meaning they are almost meeting grade level requirements but not quite.

About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative  ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at

6 thoughts on “House Education Committee Chair To Use Influence To Block Charter Schools In General Assembly

  • July 14, 2022 at 5:48 pm

    Having been an Assistant Professor of Military Science at St Lawrence in NY, I also attended some education classes at the same institution and agree with Arn. As an adjunct political science instructor at with Columbia State for several years I also have observed the lack of preparedness of TN students for the college experience. White is absolutely off base. Hillsdale would be an ideal venue and I have supported Hillsdale for years simply because they are outstanding.

  • July 14, 2022 at 6:06 pm

    I have to wonder how much Mr. White will be receiving from educational PACs and teachers unions in his reelection bid. This dude is bought and paid for!

  • July 14, 2022 at 6:27 pm

    Seems nothing good comes outta Chicago, TN.

  • July 14, 2022 at 7:10 pm

    I agree and have seen the case of C of ED being too easy to do well.A better alternative would be for a LA degree with a major in a discipline(math,physics,chemistry) and a minor in teaching. IMO

  • July 15, 2022 at 1:09 pm

    I know that Teachers are not teaching our children, I have a Great-granddaughter in Public Schools who can’t get any help from teachers with problems she has with lessons.
    These children have no books to take home so how are they supposed to learn anything?

  • July 18, 2022 at 6:08 pm

    We could stand to have a new chair of House Education and we can expect that Rep. White, having voted to give illegal aliens in Tennessee access to professional and commercial licenses, he will bring back AGAIN for a fourth time, a bill to give illegal aliens in Tennessee in-state tuition.


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