The Hillsdale Conspiracy

 

I’ve been reluctant to write about Hillsdale’s conspiracy to educate our K-12 children, for fear of betraying one of the most effective schemes to restore the Republic ever devised by the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.

But, since public education is a perpetual topic of debate here among the center-right (see here, here, and here), I thought readers might like to know about my kids’ public charter school, which teaches a classical curriculum provided by Hillsdale College. Yes, that Hillsdale. The Hillsdale of Ricochet’s own Paul Rahe, the online courses on The Constitution and The Great Books, Imprimis, and the most excellent Hillsdale Dialogue interviews by Hugh Hewitt of President Larry Arnn and other members of the faculty.

When my daughter began her career at The Vanguard School as a freshman, we didn’t even know the curriculum was provided by Hillsdale. We only knew that Vanguard was the top-performing high school in Colorado as measured by standardized test scores, college attendance by graduates, and scholarship earnings of its graduates. Vanguard’s first graduating class of 22 students earned over two million dollars in scholarships.

We were also unaware that the school appears to be a job-placement program for Hillsdale graduates, who have been, uniformly, some of the best teachers (and most decent people) from whom my daughter has ever had the privilege of learning. And since she’s been educated in charter schools since 3rd grade, that’s saying something.

What does $6,000 per pupil of tax funding (roughly the going rate in Colorado) buy you? Allow me to share just a sampling of the freshman reading list (see a complete listing for all grades here):

History — Grade 9:

  • Aristotle, Politics.
  • Herodotus, Histories.
  • The Holy Bible, American Standard Version
  • Livy, Stories of Rome.
  • Plato, The Republic, et al.
  • Tacitus, Annals.
  • Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian Wars.

English — Grade 9:

  • Cicero, Selected Works.
  • The Holy Bible, American Standard Version.
  • Homer, The Iliad.
  • Homer, The Odyssey.
  • Shakespeare, Julius Caesar.
  • Sophocles, Three Theban Plays.
  • Golding, Lord of the Flies.

Freshman students are placed in math according to test scores (Algebra I and II, Geometry, Advanced Math, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, Statistics, and AP courses are offered) and are expected to complete one year of Latin and at least three years of a modern foreign language (Latin, Spanish, or German). Vanguard students are also required to complete one semester each of Music History and Art History.

To say the Vanguard system produces well-rounded American citizens is to understate the case. Every day starts with the Pledge of Allegiance. In junior high, where my other daughter started 7th grade this year, the Pledge is followed by a recitation of the Preamble to the Constitution. At Friday assemblies, the students sing the Star Spangled Banner.

As with all the charter schools in our experience, character education plays a central role. At Vanguard, the principal and vice-principal rotate through each grade-level monthly, lecturing on the virtues. Bullying, provocative clothing, and bad behavior are not tolerated. Open-door policies remain in each and every classroom, with seating provided for parents and guests in the back of the room. The faculty have nothing to hide and that’s what they model for, and expect from, their students.

I’m guessing not 1% of public school students in America receive the education my daughters are getting from their Hillsdale-model school. And that’s a damn shame for the 99%. This is the argument for school choice. Public education can save Western Civilization, if Hillsdale is providing the content.

Image Credit: Shutterstock user Robert Kneschke.

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  1. Devereaux Inactive
    Devereaux
    @Devereaux

    Was a time when all education in America  was private. It led to the fact that Americans of 1788 could debate and understand all the principles in the constitution while only having an average 8th grade education. Today 8th grade can barely tie their shoelaces, the result of all the “innovations” from our education unions. Each year we get dumb and dumber.

    Long ago we decided to school our children at a local private school. Best idea we had. Now our kids are well educated and doing great. And thankful for their experience.

    So here’s hoping yours do as well.

    • #1
  2. A Beleaguered Conservative Member
    A Beleaguered Conservative
    @

    Hillsdale is a national treasure.  We can only hope that it can keep the embers glowing.

    • #2
  3. Boomerang Inactive
    Boomerang
    @Boomerang

    A Beleaguered Conservative:

    Hillsdale is a national treasure. We can only hope that it can keep the embers glowing.

     That is so true. 

    WC,  thanks for this description of Hillsdale’s approach and curriculum.  I have loved listening to Dr. Larry Arnn and Hillsdale Faculty on Hugh Hewitt’s radio program once a week, and I am working on a couple of Hillsdale’s online courses.   Do you know how many K through 12 schools in the country use their curriculum?

    • #3
  4. Rosie Inactive
    Rosie
    @Nymeria

    I sigh in envy at the quality education your child is receiving.  As I read the curriculum I thought if only I had that.  If I ever have children I will make sure they receive a quality education no matter the sacrifice.

    • #4
  5. lesserson Member
    lesserson
    @LesserSonofBarsham

    I don’t suppose they have a list somewhere of schools that use their curriculum do they? I don’t have kids yet, but it’s never too early to scope these things out…

    • #5
  6. user_517406 Inactive
    user_517406
    @MerinaSmith

    Wow–wish my kids had had this education!  I think there would be a high demand for such schools  if parents had their way.  Unfortunately teacher’s unions have their way instead.  But has anybody followed Bobby Jindal’s revolt against common core?  Go B.J.!  He’s rising to the top of my list for 2016!

    • #6
  7. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Boomerang: Do you know how many K through 12 schools in the country use their curriculum?

     I’ve never looked into it. We visited Hillsdale for a tour with CtheE this summer and I noticed there’s a K-12 campus on the map of Hillsdale’s campus. I imagine this is where Hillsdale graduates do their teaching practicum. 

    If my kids weren’t already going to a Hillsdale school, I’d be looking for one, though. And if we weren’t blessed to have one in our city (it’s worth the 30 minute commute), I’d be banding together with other parents to start one. It’s not just for our kids’ sake, but for the sake of the nation and for Western Civilization. Hillsdale produces old-school Westerners.

    • #7
  8. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    I’m impressed.  This is a good Jesuit high school education from 60 years ago (and that’s intended as a compliment).  A bit light on the Latin, though.  And why does the blonde with her hand up have such a huge notebook?

    • #8
  9. Yutch Coolidge
    Yutch
    @Bigfoot

    This is amazing and uplifting. I would prefer 2 years of Latin.

    How does science look there?

    • #9
  10. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Rosie:

    I sigh in envy at the quality education your child is receiving. As I read the curriculum I thought if only I had that. If I ever have children I will make sure they receive a quality education no matter the sacrifice.

    Well, I hope you have children some day, Rosie. They guarantee to bring suffering (you can’t love anyone that much without it hurting), but the fullness of life they bring is worth it.

    The curriculum is so good, it’s the first time in mlrphlemmurl-years I’ve wanted to go back to high school. Correction — make that first time ever! CtheE is already much better read and educated than her mother, and she’s only a junior!

    • #10
  11. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    I guess I’ll be moving to Colorado Springs…

    • #11
  12. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Bigfoot:

    This is amazing and uplifting. I would prefer 2 years of Latin.

    How does science look there?

     Oof — I think I may have that wrong. I think it is two years of Latin?? I’ll have to check.

    • #12
  13. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Bigfoot:

    This is amazing and uplifting. I would prefer 2 years of Latin.

    How does science look there?

    All classes offered at Vanguard are honors-level. Science requirements include Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Most kids seem to opt for AP science courses once they reach their junior or senior year. AP Physics is kick-bahookie.

    • #13
  14. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Basil Fawlty:

    I’m impressed. This is a good Jesuit high school education from 60 years ago (and that’s intended as a compliment). A bit light on the Latin, though. And why does the blonde with her hand up have such a huge notebook?

    I didn’t pick the image (thank you Editor), but large binders are standard equipment for students at Vanguard. Reading (not just texts, but related handouts) and writing (notes, essays, papers) are full-time occupations for students. Sports and arts are encouraged (there’s a “free period” at the end of the day for students to attend practice, rehearsals, lessons, or clubs), but the bulk of the day (and evening) is taken up with academics.

    • #14
  15. EmilyAnn Inactive
    EmilyAnn
    @EmilyAnn

    Spin:

    I guess I’ll be moving to Colorado Springs…

     You might not have to. Hillsdale has been opening around 4 new charter schools each year around the country. It may be that Hillsdale will soon be coming to you. I know in 2014 schools opened in Naples, FL, Atlanta, GA, Las Vegas, NV, and Leader, TX. And in 2015 there are already two schools slated to be opened in Palm Bay, FL, and in Jefferson County, CO.

    • #15
  16. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    EmilyAnn: Jefferson County, CO

     Ooh, JeffCo. It really is a conspiracy.

    • #16
  17. MLH Inactive
    MLH
    @MLH

    Does anyone know how the Basis School curriculum compares to the Hillsdale Charter “package?”

    • #17
  18. raycon and lindacon Inactive
    raycon and lindacon
    @rayconandlindacon

    This is the list of new schools from the Hillsdale site.  Missing is the Colorado Springs school.  How long has it been here?

    • #18
  19. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    raycon and lindacon:

    This is the list of new schools from the Hillsdale site. Missing is the Colorado Springs school. How long has it been here?

     Hurmmm, I want to say seven or eight years? The Elder is in her third year there, and it was about five years old when she started.

    • #19
  20. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Everybody who wishes they’d known about Hillsdale when they were choosing which college to attend, raise your hand.

    < misthiocracy raises hand, even though he really did enjoy the heck out of the University of Windsor, and got a lot of value from his post-secondary education, and also suspects his A.D.D.  would have prevented him from succeeding academically at Hillsdale … >

    • #20
  21. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Basil Fawlty:

    I’m impressed. This is a good Jesuit high school education from 60 years ago (and that’s intended as a compliment). A bit light on the Latin, though. And why does the blonde with her hand up have such a huge notebook?

    She’s blonde, so she writes her notes in crayon?

    I kid! I kid!

    • #21
  22. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Here are the academic requirements:

    Students are required to take a college preparatory course of study consisting of at least four years of English, four years of math, four years of history, three years of science, three years of the same world language, and at least one year of Latin. The English classes will be coordinated with history courses to provide a synergy between these two subjects. Latin will be used to create a classical grounding and to provide additional support for literary skills.

    • #22
  23. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Wait a minute. Are grade 9 students expected to read all those books from cover-to-cover, in ONE school year?!?!

    If yes, what the heck is expected of them in grade 10?!?!

    • #23
  24. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Western Chauvinist: Freshman students are placed in math according to test scores…

    My goodness I wish my school board had operated this way. Thanks to my overall test scores I was always placed in “gifted” or “advanced” streams.

    The problem is that I sucked at math and science (I blame the fact that I was in French Immersion. Math and science are hard enough without having to learn the terminology in a second language.)

    If I’d been placed in advanced English and History (and Computers, and Music, and Arts, etc…) classes, but remedial Math and Science, my math skills would be WAY better than they are now.

    • #24
  25. Howellis Inactive
    Howellis
    @ManWiththeAxe

    Western Chauvinist: History — Grade 9: Aristotle, Politics. Herodotus, Histories. The Holy Bible, American Standard Version Livy, Stories of Rome. Plato, The Republic, et al. Tacitus, Annals. Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian Wars. English — Grade 9: Cicero, Selected Works. The Holy Bible, American Standard Version. Homer, The Iliad. Homer, The Odyssey. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar. Sophocles, Three Theban Plays. Golding, Lord of the Flies.

     All dead white men. 

    Like the vast majority of those who lie in fields in Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Flanders, and Normandy.

    • #25
  26. Boomerang Inactive
    Boomerang
    @Boomerang

    Western Chauvinist:

    Boomerang: Do you know how many K through 12 schools in the country use their curriculum?

    I’ve never looked into it. We visited Hillsdale for a tour with CtheE this summer and I noticed there’s a K-12 campus on the map of Hillsdale’s campus. I imagine this is where Hillsdale graduates do their teaching practicum.

    If my kids weren’t already going to a Hillsdale school, I’d be looking for one, though. And if we weren’t blessed to have one in our city (it’s worth the 30 minute commute), I’d be banding together with other parents to start one. It’s not just for our kids’ sake, but for the sake of the nation and for Western Civilization. Hillsdale produces old-school Westerners.

     Just like us!

    • #26
  27. Lucy Pevensie Inactive
    Lucy Pevensie
    @LucyPevensie

    I am so jealous.  There are charter schools around here, but none that appear to be of this quality.

    • #27
  28. Boomerang Inactive
    Boomerang
    @Boomerang

    Misthiocracy:

    Everybody who wishes they’d known about Hillsdale when they were choosing which college to attend, raise your hand.

    < misthiocracy raises hand, even though he really did enjoy the heck out of the University of Windsor, and got a lot of value from his post-secondary education, and also suspects his A.D.D. would have prevented him from succeeding academically at Hillsdale … >

     My hand is up.

    There were so many poor professors at my highly respected state school that the five good ones still stand out in my mind decades later.  Several nieces and nephews who attended 20 years after me were molded into unapologetic leftists. 

    As Dennis Praeger said yesterday of the state of our colleges, “never have so many people paid so much money to have their children indoctrinated to reject their own most deeply held values.”

    • #28
  29. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Howellis:

    Western Chauvinist: History — Grade 9: Aristotle, Politics. Herodotus, Histories. The Holy Bible, American Standard Version Livy, Stories of Rome. Plato, The Republic, et al. Tacitus, Annals. Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian Wars. English — Grade 9: Cicero, Selected Works. The Holy Bible, American Standard Version. Homer, The Iliad. Homer, The Odyssey. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar. Sophocles, Three Theban Plays. Golding, Lord of the Flies.

    All dead white men.

    Like the vast majority of those who lie in fields in Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Flanders, and Normandy.

    I don’t consider the Ancient Greeks, the Romans, or the authors of the Bible “white”. They were Mediterranean/Semitic.

    From my (non-expert) readings, the term “white” was originally used by the Romans solely to describe the inhabitants of the British Isles. It was a reference to the white cliffs of Dover. It was also a derogatory term akin to “barbarian”.

    The use of the word “white” to describe “caucasians” came much later, and was the result of 18th century German racial theory.

    (Apropos of nothing: The earliest known classification of “light skinned” as a racial category was from Ancient Egypt (pre 14th century BC), and it referred to the Semites of the Levant.)

    • #29
  30. douglaswatt25@yahoo.com Moderator
    douglaswatt25@yahoo.com
    @DougWatt

    If this is a conspiracy then count me in. Students should be taught how to think, not what to think. This is a great curriculum.

    • #30