Michigan College Cuts Ties with Florida Charter School After Principal Resigns Over ‘David’ Sculpture

A Michigan college has ended its relationship with the Florida charter school whose principal was pressured to resign after parents complained that her Renaissance art syllabus, which included a picture of Michelangelo’s David, was inappropriate for sixth-graders. 

The Tallahassee Classical School, which was licensed to use Hillsdale College’s classical education curriculum, is no longer affiliated with the small, Christian college, Hillsdale spokesperson Emily Stack Davis said in a statement to MLive.com.

“This drama around teaching Michelangelo’s David sculpture, one of the most important works of art in existence, has become a distraction from, and a parody of, the actual aims of classical education,” Davis said. “Of course, Hillsdale’s K-12 art curriculum includes Michelangelo’s David and other works of art that depict the human form.”

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David by Michelangelo (Photo by © Arte & Immagini srl/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

The charter school license was “revoked and will expire at the end of the school year,” Davis added.

Hope Carrasquilla, the principal of Tallahassee Classical School, resigned earlier this month. The high-profile controversy began after the school children were shown Michelangelo’s David, which one parent called “pornographic,” the Tallahassee Democrat reported. The lesson also included Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, both of which contain nudity. 

In an interview with Slate, the chair of the school’s board, Barney Bishop III, said that the administration did not take issue with the sculpture, but the teacher’s description of it to the children as “nonpornographic picture” and the lack of advance notice.

Carrasquilla told HuffPost Thursday that the standard protocol is to notify parents ahead of lessons on classical artwork, but due to a “series of miscommunications,” a picture of the marble masterpiece was unveiled without warning.

According to Carrasquilla, one parent felt “point-blank upset” and expressed that “her child should not be viewing” the 16th-century Renaissance sculpture, which depicts the Old Testament figure David preparing for his fight against the giant Goliath. 

The school follows the “classical education curriculum model” popular in Florida primary education. The pedagogical model stresses the “centrality of the Western tradition,” or, as the Tampa Bay Times describes it, “a historical focus on white, Western European and Judeo-Christian foundations.” The model is most used in charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately operated, though conservative legislators in the state have attempted to widen its influence. 

“Showing the entire statue of David is appropriate at some age,” said Bishop.

“We’re going to figure out when that is,” he added. “And you don’t have to show the whole statue! Maybe to kindergartners we only show the head. You can appreciate that. You can show the hands, the arms, the muscles, the beautiful work Michelangelo did in marble, without showing the whole thing.”

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