The American education system used to be the envy of the world, and we need to return to the tried and true ways of traditional classical education, according to the founder of a standardized test for classical education that’s an alternative to the College Board’s SAT.
“The mainstream education system is at fault in a generation that thinks America is the big, bad bully and that isn’t grateful for the country. A country cannot be sustained on this,” Jeremy Tate, founder of the Classic Learning Test, told Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts on his “Kevin Roberts Show” podcast. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s news and commentary outlet.)
Tate, a former teacher, said he created the Classic Learning Test because of his concerns about the College Board, which he called “left-wing.” The test is for grades 3-12 and can be an alternative to the SAT and ACT for select colleges that value classical education models.
The College Board has “become deeply compromised” over the past 10 years, according to Tate. A 2020 report by the National Association of Scholars found the board has ties with the Chinese Communist Party. The report showed the board was whitewashing the revolution in China and diminishing the role of Christianity and Western Civilization.
The College Board has had a “tremendous opportunity” to decide what is and isn’t important in American education, and that even affects private religious schools. For example, many students won’t take classes such as philosophy and Christian apologetics at Catholic schools because the College Board doesn’t offer AP credits for them, and that could harm students’ GPAs even if they were to get As in those classes. That is because AP courses are graded on a different scale and can boost GPAs above 4.0.
“Here we have this left-wing organization, the College Board—make no mistake, it is a left-wing organization—calling the shots for our Catholic school … that kids are not taking philosophy or Christian apologetics because the College Board doesn’t prioritize it,” said Tate.
In response, Tate created the alternative test, which has three sections measuring verbal reasoning, grammar and writing, and quantitative reasoning, but uses different classic source materials for the assessment.
Tate said the College Board’s Sensitivity Committee “has gone totally insane” and everything is declared offensive to someone on the committee, according to people he spoke to who work there. He took the opposite approach with the Classic Learning Test and decided “if it’s not offensive to anyone, it’s probably not important either.”
“Education always is about cultivating the affections in some way for good or for ill,” Tate said, and this current generation isn’t taught “the genius of our system of government and how many millions of people it has lifted out of poverty.”
Particularly after the COVID-19 school shutdowns in 2020, math and reading scores for U.S. students dropped to the lowest levels in decades. Now, many are noticing the need for education reform.
“Everyone knows that we’re in a crisis and what we’ve needed is a solution,” said Tate. “I think classical education is now, I think, front and center as the alternative to the mainstream progressive nonsense that’s gotten us where we are.”
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