If you ever told yourself that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis would stop with his insidious Don’t Say Gay legislation, I’m sorry to report that he certainly has not stopped, and in fact shows no signs of slowing down his brigade of hate. And that’s part of why it’s so important to cover each and every anti-queer and anti-trans bit of legislation Republicans put forward; they seem outrageous and impossible to become reality until they don’t. And then more and more far-reaching bills and plans pop up.
What’s next? As reported by the Miami Herald, the Department of Education for the state of Florida has met with the folks who created the Classical Learning Test (CLT) with an eye toward switching public school students from the SAT and ACT to the CLT. The CLT, which is mostly used by homeschoolers and some private schools, is a standardized test aimed at middle and high schoolers. The SAT and ACT are college entrance exams often (but not always) required for college admission.
Why the possible change? Well, DeSantis is apparently worried the College Board is too woke … and the College Board is frustrated by the “slander” coming from the state’s Department of Education that suggested the AP African studies course doesn’t have enough educational value, per a statement released on Feb. 11. So, of course, DeSantis is seemingly responding by going to war with the people who administer college entrance tests, because why not?
He seemingly has no problem toppling Florida’s education system if it means getting him a better chance at the 2024 presidential run.
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“AP is kind of with the College Board,” DeSantis posited during a recent press conference, as reported by Vice. “Who elected them? Are there other people that provide services?” He went on to say it’s not “clear to him” that this “particular operator” is what will be used moving forward.
Enter, apparently, CLT.
Who is behind the CLT? Is it really that bad of an alternative? In a word: Yes. Jeremy Wayne Tate founded Classic Learning Initiatives back in 2015 with an eye allegedly toward the Socratic teaching method and a focus on the Western literary canon, as reported by local outlet News 4 Jax.
Per the outlet, Chad Pecknold, who serves on the board of CLTI, referred to the exam as an alternative to the College Board that “orients people to the perennial truths of the great classical and Christian tradition.”
If that sounds like a focus on dead white men, you’d be right! Another way of approaching this is who isn’t included … and that’s quite the curious overlap when we consider DeSantis is dead set on getting rid of books by and about LGBTQ+ folks and people of color.
We don’t even need to dig deep to make the argument. For example, as covered here at Daily Kos by my colleague Rebekah Sager, DeSantis’ education department already rejected a new Advanced Placement (AP) course on African American studies. In fact, he hypothesized about getting rid of AP classes in Florida public schools, period.
Mind you, AP classes are a chance for high schoolers to earn college credits while still in high school. It’s arguably preparation for college in terms of workload and skill, but it’s also a chance to earn “free” credits by placing out of introduction-level courses once at college. For students who are low-income, on scholarships, or simply trying to keep costs low, AP classes can be a great way to save money.
AP courses can also be a valuable boost to a young student’s self-esteem and self-image; applying for college (or jobs, for that matter) can be incredibly stressful and competitive, and AP courses can let students get a taste of college-style courses while still having camaraderie and support from their peers and high school teachers. If a student is interested, and the courses are actually accessible, they’re a real win-win.
But it really does go without saying that DeSantis isn’t interested in young minds actually getting a diverse and nuanced education, or else he wouldn't be spreading mass hysteria about critical race theory and parental consent.
And if you're curious about Tate, it’s a real … challenge to give his views the benefit of the doubt, association with DeSantis notwithstanding. In speaking to the Herald, for example, Tate accused the SAT of censoring the “entire Christian-Catholic intellectual tradition” and said it’s become “increasingly ideological.” He denies that his company is explicitly right-wing, but he does serve on an anti-abortion advocacy group per the HuffPost, and his social media includes rants about the decline of the West because people have moved away from Christianity.
Sometimes, the simplest explanation is the most honest one. Especially as we move into an election year.