On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that a plan by pro-Trump youth organizer Charlie Kirk to create an "America First" K-12 online academy is falling apart, as an Arizona firm backing the project has pulled out.
"A company in the early stages of realizing Kirk’s vision was anticipating millions in revenue from Turning Point Academy — part of an effort to market K-12 curriculum to families seeking an 'America-first education,'" reported Isaac Stanley-Becker and Beth Reinhard. "A document circulated within StrongMind, an education firm in Arizona where programmers had begun work on the project, noted plans to open the online academy by the fall of 2022 and assessed its 'potential to generate over $40MM in gross revenue at full capacity (10K students).'"
"The firm’s plans disintegrated last week amid a Washington Post investigation and backlash from StrongMind employees concerned about the prospect of Turning Point-directed lesson plans. A key subcontractor tapped to prepare course material also backed out after learning that Kirk’s group was the ultimate client," said the report. "Kirk still intends to open the academy, though with other partners, said a spokesman, Andrew Kolvet, who called the agreement with StrongMind 'nonbinding and nonexclusive.'"
According to the report, one of the sources of conflict in the deal was that StrongMind employees were asked to alter coursework to be suitable for a project with Kirk: "As an example, the company manager said Turning Point might have problems with a lesson plan using a speech by a Republican president to highlight propaganda techniques, according to people familiar with the comments."
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Kirk is the director of Turning Point USA, a right-wing student association. Over the years, TPUSA has come under repeated controversy, with one member of its leadership fired — and then given a prestigious clerkship with a right-wing federal judge — after a series of racist texts, including "I hate blacks."
Kirk himself triggered outrage by calling murdered police brutality victim George Floyd a "scumbag," and has been accused of violating labor law by threatening to fire any employee who asks about COVID-19 safety protocols.
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