Fla. Superintendent Draws Fire for Role in ‘American Exceptionalism’ Conference

By Lesli A. Maxwell — October 17, 2013 1 min read
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The superintendent of schools in Clay County, Fla., is clashing with members of the local school board over his decision to partner the school district with an organization that is hosting an upcoming conference on American exceptionalism.

Charlie Van Zant Jr., the superintendent of the 35,000-student district in northeast Florida near Jacksonville, had agreed recently that the school district would be a co-sponsor of “Dare to Think: A Conference on Restoring America’s Heritage,” to be held in early November, and had helped make arrangements for the event to be held a nearby conference center, according to local media reports.

School board members were upset that Van Zant had agreed to help with the conference without consulting them, and directed the school district’s attorney to have any reference to Clay County schools removed from conference advertisments and materials. An Eventbrite notice of the conference still lists Clay County and the superintendent as co-hosts.

The main organizer of the event is William Korach, the publisher of The Report Card, an online magazine that focuses on curriculum reform from a conservative viewpoint. The Report Card’s website prominently features a notice of the upcoming conference and lists Clay County schools as a co-sponsor.

Van Zant told local media that the conference is about teaching American history in schools. And Korach himself appeared before the school board earlier this week to urge members to support the conference which he described as being a nonpartisan education event, according to the Florida Times-Union.

In general, American exceptionalism is the notion that America is unique from every other nation in the world in its historical development and is a popular ideal among political conservatives.

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.