The Barney Charter School Ini­tiative has increased two-fold after opening four new charter schools this summer.

Since 2009, the ini­tiative has spread liberal arts edu­cation throughout the country. This ini­tiative seeks to institute a clas­sical cur­riculum in schools that wish to asso­ciate with the college in the renewal of edu­cation throughout America.

Phillip Kilgore, the director of the ini­tiative, said that the college works with com­mu­nities, parents, edu­cators, and local school dis­tricts who are dis­sat­isfied with the downward trend of pro­gressive edu­cation.

“It is really driven by a response to people who are like minded and who share our edu­ca­tional  phi­losophy,” Kilgore said.

Eight new charter schools have opened their doors since 2012. This past August four new schools opened, located in Georgia, Florida, Nevada, and Texas. The growth pro­jection rate is five schools per year, with the hope of having 50 charter schools open by 2022.

Kilgore said that because the word is out, he receives weekly enquiries about the ini­tiative, even from states that do not have charter school laws. These charter schools, which are pub­li­cally funded yet inde­pen­dently operated, reflect the learning and rigour of the liberal arts edu­cation that is taught at the college. These schools have tremendous cur­ricular freedom, Kilgore said, because they are allowed to depart from the state’s dic­tates for regular public schools.

“Hillsdale pro­vides the cur­ricular design,” he said. “Our role is to be the architect of the aca­demic program, and the cur­riculum is a sig­nif­icant piece in that.”

Hillsdale hosted a teacher training session in June, which 100 teachers from four charter schools attended, and over 30 faculty members from the college delivered ses­sions.

Kilgore empha­sized the impor­tance of content; teachers have to be knowl­edgeable in order to fully teach a liberal arts edu­cation.

“I had Dr. Grant teaching about Article 1, Section 8 of the Con­sti­tution, because there’s a gov­ernment class. I had Dr. Smith talking about “Henry V” because that book is taught in the eighth grade. I had Dr. Birzer talking about American Indians because first grade teachers teach that,” Kilgore said. “That’s some top-grade teacher training.”

Kilgore also added that every American should be con­cerned with edu­cation because of its con­nection with the health of the republic.

“Edu­cation is some­thing that touches every family. There is no one who doesn’t have a dog in the fight in some way,” he said.

Kilgore said that, besides the fact that stu­dents throughout America are edu­cated, he hopes that the ini­tiative will have a leav­ening effect in public edu­cation.

“We are showing that edu­cation in the public school domain can be done in the right manner, and we want parents and policy makers to see that,” he said. “Public schooling needs to be restored to what it once was, and these schools serve as the example that it can be done.”

The eight schools, which have a total of 4,000 stu­dents enrolled, are also a haven for Hillsdale College alumni. According to Assistant Director Rebecca Fleming, there are a total of 30 alumni working at the schools, who have grad­uated any­where from 2006 – 2014.

Emily Flynn, ’14 cur­rently teaches at the Atlanta Clas­sical Academy (ACA) in Georgia. With a degree in history and a minor in art history, Flynn oversees a fifth-grade class of 27 stu­dents.

Flynn heard about the ACA at the Clas­sical Schools Job Fair that the college hosts every Feb­ruary.

“It has been exciting and chal­lenging to be a part of this, espe­cially as a new teacher,” Flynn said. “I have the oppor­tunity to help form a school, and thus its stu­dents, in an envi­ronment which pro­motes virtue and aca­demic rigor. It feels very Hillsdale-ian.”

Flynn added that Dr. Ter­rence Moore, pre­vious pro­fessor of history at Hillsdale, is the prin­cipal at the ACA and is very involved in the ini­tiative. She said that she is encouraged by the support she has received from both the com­munity at ACA and members and faculty back at Hillsdale.

Flynn echoes Kilgore’s aspi­ra­tions for the ini­tiative and for the renewal of edu­cation throughout the country. The Barney Charter School Ini­tiative is vital not only as a means for the learning of the liberal arts, but also as an edu­cation for leading a vir­tuous life.

“If we only emphasize aca­d­emics, we are for­getting that we are devel­oping human beings, not just brains,” Flynn said. “Devel­oping char­acter is an essential com­ponent of ACA and other Barney charter schools, and it is this emphasis on virtue that will allow the stu­dents of these schools to excel aca­d­e­m­i­cally and morally in our world, for they will be able to interpret and seek out the good, the true, and the beau­tiful.”


  • Christie Syftestad

    My family and others out here in our once Golden state find the efforts made by Hillsdale to spread its much-needed and liberty-pro­moting influence throughout our country a breath of fresh air, to say the least. I, myself, a public school graduate who loved history, went through both our CSU and UC systems here in Cal­i­fornia with nary an inkling of what I should have learned about America, liberty, and a host of crucial sub­jects. But thanks ini­tially to your won­derful “Imprimis pub­li­cation, my eyes were opened…so much so that we sent our daughter to Hillsdale (Yay-class of 2018!) and have sought to help shore up the con­sid­erable holes in our own edu­ca­tional back­grounds. I am deeply grateful to Hillsdale and all who con­tribute to it’s worthy efforts. Our family now believes so whole­heartedly in the necessity of the Charter school movement and a liberal edu­cation, that I earned mul­tiple teaching cre­den­tials and am now working in a like-minded Charter school, the John Adams Academy. I pray that similar migra­tions to the light will swell. And we’re excited about our prospects. Many Cal­i­for­nians still hunger for truth and a rig­orous edu­cation, and if just sending out Imprimis can bring about such changes in our family, what could be accom­plished through more and more liberty-minded Charter schools?! Keep fighting the good fight, Hillsdale!

  • Pingback: New Jeffco Charter Applications – Golden View Classical Academy | YourHub()