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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Wants Controversial Classic Learning Test To Compete Against SAT

Florida’s public university system which includes University of Florida and Florida State University is set to be the first state system to approve the Classic Learning Test for use in college admissions. This move marks another disruption to the education system by Governor Ron DeSantis, also a Republican presidential candidate, who has already clashed with the College Board over curriculum content.

DeSantis signed SB 266 in May which restricted certain topics from being taught in general education courses, the lower-level classes all students must take for their degrees. It also prohibits spending related to diversity, equity and inclusion programs beyond what is required by accreditors. SB 266 borrowed language from his “Stop Woke Act” that targeted “theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political and economic inequities.”

The CLT, developed by Classic Learning Initiatives, offers an alternative to the SAT and ACT, emphasizing the Western canon and Christian thought. The test's inclusion of religious and philosophical texts has stirred controversy, with critics citing concerns about its narrow focus. However, proponents argue that it introduces students to rich intellectual material and fosters skills like memorization, logic, and debate.

While the CLT features canonical works from Western civilization, it also includes diverse authors, such as Toni Morrison, Frederick Douglass, and Mohandas K. Gandhi, alongside Judeo-Christian thinkers like Saint Augustine and Martin Luther (not to be confused with civil rights icon Martin Luther King).

The CLT's expansion into the public education system is a long-term goal for the company, though there are concerns about it becoming associated with a particular partisan group. Critics also point out that classical education should not privilege one religion or culture above others. Classics, as a discipline, has become enmeshed in its own debates over diversity, and some classics scholars are trying to shake off its reputation as an elitist subject dominated by white men.

Link: NYTimes


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