Hillsdale College is one of the most conservative colleges in the nation. It describes itself as nonsectarian Christian. It sets itself up as the font of moral, patriotic education, whose students emerge as militant carriers of the Hillsdale message. Hypocrisy is occasionally exposed, as when it turned out that the former president of Hillsdale, an expert in high morality, was having an affair with his daughter-in-law. She committed suicide; he resigned with a golden parachute. Undaunted, Hillsdale continues to present itself to the world as the ultimate defender of faith, morality, patriotism, etc.

Now Hillsdale has a new shtick: it has created a curriculum for the Barney chain of charter schools. The curriculum is based on Trump’s “1776 Curriculum,” a time when men were men, women wore petticoats, and many Black people were enslaved. .

Today’s three posts delve into Hillsdale’s ties to three states where rightwing extremists are in charge.

First is Florida, where Hillsdale’s president Larry Arnn has developed a close relationship with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

The Tampa Bay Times reported on Hillsdale’s influence in Florida:

TALLAHASSEE — The spotlight was on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, as it so often has been over the past three years.

“Our speaker tonight is one of the most important people living,” Larry P. Arnn said as he introduced DeSantis as the keynote speaker at the Hillsdale National Leadership Seminar on Feb. 23 in Naples. Arnn is the president of Hillsdale College, a politically influential private Christian college in southern Michigan.

“This person’s most important work is before him — and we need him.”

The introduction highlights the relationship between DeSantis and the conservative college, which 12 years ago set out to reshape public education through the growth of charter schools and in recent years has expanded its reach in Florida’s education system.

The college’s influence has been seen in the state’s rejection of math textbooks over what DeSantis called “indoctrinating concepts,” the state’s push to renew the importance of civics education in public schools, and the rapid growth of Hillsdale’s network of affiliated public charter schools in Florida.

Hillsdale also has had sway over the Republican-led Legislature. In 2019, lawmakers approved a law that allowed the college and three other groups to help the state revise its civics standards. Three years later, those guidelines are part of a DeSantis-led civics initiative that has concerned several educatorsabout an infusion of Christianity and conservative ideologies…

DeSantis talked about how since becoming governor, he has banned so-called sanctuary cities, fought lockdown policies during the pandemic, rejected “corporate media” pressures, and reshaped the Florida Supreme Court to what he referred to as “the most conservative Supreme Court of any state in the country.”

The governor also highlighted his push to reform the state’s education system by continuing the two-decades-long push by Republicans to expand school vouchers and charter schools. He also touted Hillsdale’s “flourishing” network of classical schools in Florida.

“I mean how many places, other than Hillsdale, are actually standing for truth, excellence and to produce people who will be leaders?” DeSantis said, after arguing that “woke-ism” is embedded in academic institutions.

A few months after DeSantis’ speech, two state-led efforts further highlighted the relationship between the governor and the college.

In April, the Department of Education made national headlines for its decision to reject dozens of math textbooks because they included references to critical race theory and other “prohibited topics” and “unsolicited strategies,” officials said at the time.

A Times/Herald review of nearly 6,000 pages of textbook examination showed only three of the 125 reviewers found objectionable content. Two of the three were affiliated with Hillsdale College. One was Jonah Apel, a sophomore student majoring in political science, and the other was Jordan Adams, a civics education specialist at the college.

The college declined the opportunity to review the math textbooks but suggested two consultants, neither of whom is a math educator.

Apel and Adams were invited by the state to review “prohibited topics,” though Florida Department of Education officials have not responded to questions inquiring why they specifically invited people to scour for contentious issues like critical race theory. The state paid “prohibited topic” reviewers $500 per review, $170 more than they paid others who reviewed books to ensure the books matched the rest of the state’s math standards, state records show.

Hillsdale has been actively involved in shaping DeSantis’s civics initiative, which is closely aligned with Trump’s 1776 Commission, as a project to glorify American history and minimize unpleasant episodes, like slavery and brutality towards Black and indigenous people.

Hillsdale’s approach to teaching history has drawn praise from DeSantis and former Florida Secretary of Education Richard Corcoran, as well as national conservative figures like former President Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos.

Arnn, the college’s president, was appointed by Trump to be the chairperson of the president’s Advisory 1776 Commission, which was formed to “advise the president about the core principles of the American founding and to protect those principles by promoting patriotic education,” according to Matthew Spalding, who Trump appointed as the commission’s executive director. Spalding is the vice president for Washington operations and the dean of the Van Andel Graduate School of Government at Hillsdale’s Washington, D.C., extension.

Hillsdale’s digital digest, Imprimis, features the writing of conservative thinkers like Christopher Rufo, who has worked with DeSantis to combat issues like critical race theory and gender identity.

Florida has seven Hillsdale-affiliated charter schools, with more on the way.