Knox County Commissioner Durrett Responds to the Arn/Bill Lee Incident

Knox County Commissioner Courtney Durrett, a Public School Teacher has sent an Open Letter regarding the Larry Arn incident where he spoke down to Public School teachers in Tennessee.

An Open Letter to Knox County School Board, Board Member Candidates, and Governor Lee:

​This letter is an open request to the Knox County School Board and all candidates seeking School Board seats to reject all charter school proposals associated with Hillsdale College.  Also, any charter schools who have relied on advice from Larry Arnn, President of Hillsdale College, should be rejected.  As a Knox County Commissioner, but more importantly a former public school teacher, I could never support any Knox County taxpayer dollars directed to such schools.

I, like so many others, am amazed at Larry Arnn’s comment that “teachers are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges.”  Why does Tennessee tolerate an outsider who insults our teachers and is critical of our colleges and universities?  Why does Governor Lee consider him worthy of starting charter schools in our state?  I take Mr. Arnn’s comments personally as I was a public school teacher for 7 years and obtained my Master of Science in Education degree from the University of Tennessee.  Mr. Arnn, am I dumb?

Adding insult to injury, Mr. Arnn is now trying to offer definitions of the term “dumb.”  Trying to justify his comments rather than apologizing for them, he offered such terms as unintelligent, ill-conceived, and misdirected.

Larry Arnn’s follow-up comments are simply digging the hole in which he is in deeper.  Unfortunately, Governor Lee is in this hole with Mr. Arnn and will remain in this hole until he refutes Mr. Arnn’s insulting comments of our teachers.  I began my career as a teacher at West High School, and I certainly feel insulted.  My parents were both public school teachers; they feel insulted.  And based on the letters I have received, the majority of our teachers across the state feel the same way.  

Knox County School Board, please refuse any association with Hillsdale College, and Governor Lee, please send Larry Arnn back to Michigan.  We don’t need him in Tennessee.


Courtney Durrett

Knox County Commissioner

Former Public School Teacher


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