(As originally published with bells and whistles, Mon, February 20th 2023, 3:44 PM EST)
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (TND) — Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis fired his first shot at The College Board when he rejected an advanced placement African American studies course, saying it pushes a political agenda.
Now, it seems he was just getting started.
Top state officials have reportedly been meeting the founder of a college entrance exam called the Classic Learning Test, considered an “alternative” to The College Board’s SAT.
We’re thrilled they like what we’re doing,” Jeremy Tate told the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald. “We’re talking to people in the administration, again, really, almost every day right now.
Tate said the SAT has become “increasingly ideological.” He blamed test writers who “censored the entire Christian-Catholic intellectual tradition” and other “thinkers in the history of Western thought.”
Instead, the Classic Learning Test, founded in 2015, “offers assessments that evaluate English, grammar, and mathematical skills, providing a comprehensive measure of achievement and aptitude,” according to its website.
But, it claims, “Unlike other tests that change according to educational or cultural trends, CLT exams emphasize foundational critical thinking skills and are accessible to students from a variety of educational backgrounds.
Going further, it says the word “classic” refers to using “classic literature and historical texts for the reading selections on our exams,” calling the content “meaningful” and leading to “a more edifying testing experience.”
Two things about the Classic Learning Test arguably caught the attention of DeSantis: Who takes the test and which colleges care about the students’ scores.
The homepage of the test says it helps “highlight the strengths of students with a home-school, private, or charter school education,” as opposed to public schools.
It also claims the scores on the test are “accepted at over 200 colleges,” and the six logos of schools chosen as examples to use on its homepage have one thing in common:
- The King’s College, a private non-denominational Christian college
- Colorado Christian University
- Wyoming Catholic College
- The University of Dallas, a private Catholic university
- Mount St. Mary’s University, a private Roman Catholic university
- Wheaton College, a private Evangelical Christian college
All are private and all are religious.
Quite simply, the money spent to take the Classic Learning Test will mean fewer students and parents paying to take the SAT, which is owned by The College Board, and the ACT, its chief competitor.
And the governor could persuade lawmakers and the chancellor of the State University System of Florida could incentivize the new test.
Standardized testing companies play huge roles in post-secondary education, from helping college admission offices compare what potential students around the world know, and deciding which students get certain scholarships.
Of course, DeSantis has had his hand in education, from championing laws for school choice, against teachers unions, some known nationally as “don’t say gay” to the Stop Woke Act, to intensifying scrutiny of school library books and instructional materials, and imposing term limits on school board members.
As for higher education in particular, a leaked copy of a controversial bill called for more control over professors because universities are full of liberal bias and need to be reformed.
The governor wants an end to tenure and hiring handled by university boards of trustees rather than university presidents.
He signed a bill to force schools to periodically change accreditors, saying groups such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission have an “inordinate amount of power,”
It’s all about trying to make these institutions more in line with what the state’s priorities are, and quite frankly the priorities of parents throughout the state of Florida,” DeSantis claimed.
Meanwhile, the state’s senior chancellor, Henry Mack III, tweeted his approval, saying the Classic Learning Test “offers the opportunity for all our colleges & universities to rightsize their priorities.”
As for Tate, his Twitter profile calls himself “Catholic, husband and father of 6 kiddos, CEO @CLT_Exam, classical education enthusiast.”
His LinkedIn profile says he has a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and teaching, and a master’s in religious studies — theology.
In a tweet just hours old, he did not say where the classroom in the picture he chose to show was located.
Tate has also taken shots at The College Board.
As for DeSantis, he has long pushed for students to choose vocational education for good jobs, without the expensive degree and the testing needed for admission.
In his very first month in office, when he signed an executive order directing the state department of education to do an internal audit on its career- and technical-education programs.
Graduates of Indian River State College are receiving technical and vocational certificates to become everything from a nurse to a mechanic.
Just a year ago, while running for reelection, he announced $89 million for workforce education initiatives that include dual enrollment for high school programs, apprenticeships, and cybersecurity and IT training.