Classical Education & The Recovery of Culture (Guest: Jeremy Tate)

December 15, 2023 00:49:01
Classical Education & The Recovery of Culture (Guest: Jeremy Tate)
Crisis Point
Classical Education & The Recovery of Culture (Guest: Jeremy Tate)

Dec 15 2023 | 00:49:01

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Eric Sammons

Show Notes

Virtually all our institutions today have been co-opted and used to push anti-Catholic and even anti-human ideologies. How can we take them back? The answer starts with education.
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Episode Transcript

[00:00:10] Speaker A: Virtually all institutions today have been co opted and used to push anti catholic and even anti human ideologies. How can we take them back? One way is to start with education. That's what we're going to talk about today on Crisis point. Hello, I'm Eric Samage, your host editor in chief of Crisis magazine. Before we get started, just want encourage people to smash that like button. To subscribe to the channel, follow us on social media at Crisis mag. Also, you can go to crisismagazine.com, subscribe to our email newsletter. And this month, we only do this twice a year. We are doing our fundraising, our twice a year fundraising. And so this month we're doing that. So if you go to crisismagazine.com, you'll probably ask to give us some money. And so we would appreciate that. Okay, so let's go and get started. We have Jeremy Tate with us here today. He is the co founder and the CEO of Classic Learning Test, which exists to reconnect knowledge and virtue by providing meaningful assessments and connections to seekers of truth, goodness, and beauty, which you can tell. I got that second part directly from your website, but we'll talk a little bit more detail about what it is. Welcome to the program, Jeremy. [00:01:11] Speaker B: Hey, Eric Simmons. Thanks so much for having me. [00:01:14] Speaker A: Yeah. So we're going to be talking about classical education, and I think you hear this term all the time in the catholic world. And I think it'd be good to just define what do you mean by classical education and how does it contrast with the education that you find in basically every public school and probably a lot of catholic schools as well. [00:01:34] Speaker B: Yeah, it's such a great question, and I love having this conversation. I think the first place to start, Eric, is with the telos or the goal. What's the point of know? I started my teaching career inner city New York. I think if you go back there to the school, I was at progress high school and say, what are we doing here? To any of the administrators, it would be something along the lines of getting students to graduate maybe as high as giving students a chance at college. If you go to almost any public school and a lot of catholic schools in the country and you ask the students, why are we here? What's the point of school? The vast majority, they're going to tell you something about to get a better job, right? That is a very, very impoverished view of what we're doing in this grand project that we call education, something Americans funnel hundreds of billions of dollars to collectively. If you go to a catholic school, like Sacred Heart Academy or a place like St. Jerome's in Hyattsville, Maryland, or Our lady of Lords in Denver. I think you're going to hear the administrators and the teachers and the students respond very differently. They may respond with things like, the point is to grow in wisdom, to grow in a love for the Lord Jesus Christ, to grow in a love for Christ and church. It is a different tellos that begins, and this was the ancient view of education that goes all the way back before the birth of was. I used to ask students, Eric, in my public school setting, what's the purpose of education? They would say, to get a better job. And then I would write this quote. It's not a direct quote, but it's kind of a synthesis from Plato's republic. The object of education is to learn to love what is beautiful. They'd be like, what is that? They had no category for this. Who's Plato anyway? Right? And this is something that Catholics very much agree with, the ancients. We, of course, have made it clear that it's ultimately cultivating a love for Christ and church, but that education is formation. And you think about for generations and generations, they didn't even call it education. They would say a young man or woman is being sent off to formation, especially if someone was going to enter the seminary to become a catholic priest. This vision of education as formation has been wholly lost in the public school arena, and it has been nearly lost in many, many catholic schools. But there is now a revival, a renaissance. You can call it classical education. A lot of great catholic educators don't like that term. They prefer to say education from the heart of the church. And I think the language in both cases is great. [00:04:27] Speaker A: Yeah. So it's interesting. My dad was actually a public school teacher, then principal, administrator and superintendent, finally in 30 some years. And so it was awkward when we started having kids and we didn't want them in public schools. But the idea of public schools, like this idea of get a job, and I would even argue it's somewhat of a conditioning of kids to be good citizens. And I don't mean that necessarily in a good way. I mean that more in a compliant citizens, probably that's a better way to put it, compliant citizens. And that seems to be very common in how education is done, because you see it's going be, because a lot of stuff they're teaching in the schools today isn't even about getting a good job. It's about. Right, think the ideology. Going on with the ideology. How did this all happen? I mean, if the classical idea, if the ancient ideas and medieval idea was education exist, what happened to get it all off course? Where basically now it seems to be more about indoctrination or at best, just how to find the most high paying job? [00:05:35] Speaker B: Sure. I think there's a misperception that education just kind of gradually drifted in the wrong direction beginning in the 20th century. It was actually very coordinated and very intentional. There's a book that came out about a year ago, the battle for the american mind. This is one of my dear friends, David Goodwin. He's the president of the association of Classical Christian Schools, our protestant brothers there. He co authored this with Pete Hegseth over at Fox News. But it really chronicles the history of education in America and especially what happened when education became compulsory. And there very much was, and I think early kind of fringe progressives 100 years ago understood that you don't have to take control of every american institution to essentially own the culture. You just need to take control of education. If you control education, you're going to eventually influence and control everything else. And so the way we see it, Eric, there are kind of four main levers that education at the high level is controlled by. And so one of these is accreditation. If a school has to jump through hoops that are disconnected from its mission, catholic schools, if they have to jump through hoops to keep their accreditation, that's going to mean mission drift. Right. I've talked to catholic superintendents who say the days are numbered where a catholic school can be both accredited and authentically catholic because none of these accrediting agencies are catholic. Right. We're deferring to define legitimacy to these secular organizations. Another one is the control of public funds. Right. We funnel 95% of all tax dollars into one very new vision, philosophy of education, modern, secular, progressive education. And instead of catholic or classical education, Eric, here we believe another of these levers, of course, is standardized testing. Right. I think the really crass way to put it is that whoever controls testing in many ways controls education. The test tends to drive or dictate the curriculum, at least to some degree. I'm not saying that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it does seem to be kind of a reality that the test does drive the curriculum. The last one is teacher certification. And so if a student, a young person, a college student, has to go to the state ed school in order to teach and get a license, and they have to ingest a bunch of bad ideas for four years in order to get that license, that's going to have a profound impact. And we've been in that situation even at many catholic schools. A lot of catholic schools say you've got to have your state certification to teach here. But a lot of the new catholic schools, Eric, or a lot of the ones that have re embraced the tradition of the church, sometimes they view that certification as a liability. They understand that if a student has gotten the certification, they may have been formed in all the wrong ways. So they're hiring directly from Thomas Aquinas College, directly from Christianham, directly from Hillsdale. And I think often they're getting better teachers doing it that way. [00:08:52] Speaker A: Yeah. So I want to talk about the testing and whatnot in a minute, but we kind of both made a comment, somewhat derogatory comment, about just education to get a job. But on the other hand, obviously people need to make a living. Particularly I'm thinking of a father of a family, needs to have some type of skills that he can make a man raise his family, whether it be a plumber, computer programmer, lawyer, whatever the case may be. And so what is the distinction then between education as you're talking about and for lack of better term, like skills training, I guess, in order to have a livelihood? And is there like a progression you see as ideal? Like, okay, you do the classical education early on, but then at some age you start now doing skill training or something like that. How does that all kind of come together? Because I think that's a big debate is like, okay, I'm going to college because I can get better paying job than if I don't go to college. I can support my family better. It doesn't even have to be like, greedy, just might be, hey, I can support my family better if I go to college. So at what point do you think that? Is there a point in which a school, whether it be a high school university, should do skills training rather than more classical education? [00:10:10] Speaker B: It's such a great question. I'm sitting here in downtown Annapolis, just about two blocks from St. John's College. St. John's College is not a catholic or christian school, but it is a classical college. It is great books only. There are no majors. And when parents tour the school and students, they say, okay, this seems interesting, a deep dive into the western intellectual tradition. That sounds interesting. What is my kid going to do with this? And as an employer, as an employer, we're over here saying, you can't send us enough of these young people. They've learned how to actually think, they've learned how to write well and speak well, listen well. And these are rare traits or virtues that are increasingly hard to find. And I think it's know about a fourth of our graduates are from Hillsdale College. This is a school that is not doing kind of the pragmatic, practical thing. And so in a job market like ours, where it's rapidly changing and the changing continues to accelerate, the ability to think about markets, to anticipate where industry is going, a disproportionately high number of entrepreneurs have had some kind of a classical education, to be able to be kind of both in the weeds and take the 10,000 foot perspective as well. These are kind of the fruits of a well trained mind, that a classical education is becoming far more, I think, not less valuable in terms of navigating this. Think about the birth of the kind of industrial factory school this is, again, right after the civil war, the origins of this in Massachusetts, really borrowing from the industrial revolution and trying to make basically economically efficient economies of scale to mass educate in order for graduates to then be able to go essentially work in the factory. We're in a very different job market right now. A lot of young people are piecing together three or four different jobs. A lot of people do freelance work. And so it takes more thought, I think, maybe, than ever before, to have a really successful career and to navigate this rapidly changing market. And I think these students are especially equipped to do that. [00:12:35] Speaker A: Well, I remember this is probably 20 years ago, probably. I was working for an Internet startup company, and I was in charge. One of the things I did was I was in charge of customer service to answer questions when people had problems with their, it was a hosting company, but I remember I was hiring people who were in college and as well as graduates. And one of the biggest frustrations to me is they couldn't communicate with the customers like they were technically adept. But the problem is the customer, for example, would write in and they would say, oh, I can't do this. And the customer wouldn't always necessarily know what their real problem was, obviously because they have a problem. And I would get frustrated because the text, their writing skills were just very poor, to the point where sometimes I would even see where they would respond, and it'd be the opposite of what they actually meant to say, almost. And that was something kind of, to your point, of they might have the tech skills that if they knew what the problem was, they could actually go into the computer and they could fix it, but they couldn't actually problem solve and determine, like, okay, what does this person really need and then communicate with them that. So that was kind of a light bulb for me of the need for more than just having these tech skills. Now, that all being said, how would you argue then? For example, there are some jobs where you just need plumbing, being a plumber or an electrician, like a lawyer. How would you then say for somebody like that, what is the value of classical education? And should there be a point where at what point do they then move on to, okay, I have to actually get some specific skills for these jobs. [00:14:23] Speaker B: Yeah. There's a couple newish colleges I'm so excited about. So one of these is the College of St. Joseph, the worker, where I think they've identified exactly what you're talking about. And not only do we have a crisis, and I think we've all experienced this during, you know, the fridge breaks, and we all realize, like, wow, there's not many people who know how to fix this. And what often happens as well is that to have a plumber come in, to have a skilled tradesperson come in, who can also be great with the customer, who can be empathetic. Right. And have these personal skills as well. This is what the College of St. Joseph, the worker, has identified. So they're marrying a serious catholic, great books education with HVAC and welding and plumbing. Harmel Academy is doing the same thing in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. I'll be out there at the end of January. But the same concept, and we've been a part at CLT of a number of new colleges trying to launch. It's really hard to launch a college right now in kind of a contracting market. Less kids are going to four year brick and mortar colleges than they were ten years ago. But this particular vision of marrying the hard trades and dignifying the work of the hands, but doing it in a way that is also combined with serious catholic formation, I think this is the very best of both worlds. I think the young people graduating from Harmel Academy or the College of St. Joseph, the worker, not only are they going to be great plumbers and tradesmen, but I think they're going to go on to launch great plumbing companies as well, and to be leaders in these very important industries. [00:16:10] Speaker A: Yes. So what then would you say is kind of the ideal? Because high school, obviously, and before you have classical education, then you have college level, university level, classical education. Excuse my ignorance here, but would the university level just be more intense than the high school level if you've gone to a classical high school education or let's say you're home schooled in our curriculum is very much to classics based. What then is the purpose of going off to a college that would also be classically based at that point? Or is there, should they maybe go some other route? [00:16:47] Speaker B: We know the ages of 18 to 22 are uniquely formative for a young person. So a lot of kids, they will say to mom and dad or to the college counselor, I've done twelve years at this classical catholic school, or I want something a little different. I think many of these students, my daughter being one, she's graduating in May from an all girls catholic school, Mountain of sales academy. We felt like she was in a good place. People to go off to a public university. She's an athlete. She's going to be running in college. I think every student's going to be a little bit different in terms of where they're at, in terms of their maturity. Some are going to be followers, some are going to be leaders. But it's a really great question, and we're living through right now, Eric, a seismic shift and in some ways a collapse of kind of education as we've known it. Right. It was only five or six years ago a Harvard professor said that he thought within a ten year period, 50% of american four year brick and mortar colleges are going to close. And we have seen a number close already. I don't know. I believe Chris was the professor. I don't think it's going to be quite that high, but I think it could be 25 or 30% of colleges that close. And the reason is because we've got online, and as long as you have a vision for education, it's only credentialing, it's only acquiring knowledge. Right. There's no reason an online program can't take the place. But if education is know, a young person goes out to Wyoming Catholic, they come back different. They're a different kind of person when they graduate. And that's why really, really excited about the future of a lot of Newman guide type colleges, a lot of the faithfully catholic colleges. But it's also not for everyone. And I think that we have bought into a very silly idea that college is for everyone. It wasn't for everyone 50 years ago. It shouldn't be for everyone now. I think a lot of people are starting to wake up to that reality. [00:19:02] Speaker A: Yeah, I want to explore that for just a minute, because I have had four of my children go off to four year colleges over the past eight years. So I know that world at know what's involved with it. And I just think that it seems like, and they all went to Franciscan University, University of Dallas, so good schools, but just looking at the whole arena, when we were exploring public universities and catholic universities, whatnot, or not going to university and maybe getting a trade, something like that, it just seems like it's a house of cards that has to fall apart because the costs are just so ridiculously high now. And like you said, ultimately, schools proved it during COVID that they didn't even need to have all this stuff. You didn't need to have the bricks and the mortar because they literally said, well, we're going to charge you the exact same amount, but now you just do it from your house. Well, what's the point of paying for all these. Everything else, then, if it's just. I mean, a lot of it which is left unsaid is simply for the party experience, which is translated in the college experience, which is translated into party with your friends for four years without the parents around. And so it just seems like the whole thing is going to collapse. Is your prediction like, probably within ten years, we'll see a massive number of schools that are closing and will cost go down. And what are the schools that are probably the most vulnerable to collapse? [00:20:30] Speaker B: Yeah, it's a great question. There's always a lag between new disruptive technologies and totally displacing. So when the car is invented, it's not like every horse and buggy are out of a job the next day, but it happens within a decade or two. And we're seeing just now, in some ways, the university system having to wrestle with the fact that it no longer owns access to knowledge. That was the value prop. Right? The Harvard library was the library. And now you've got more on your smartphone than the Harvard library could ever dream of. So then what is Harvard offering? Right. And essentially, in the case of Harvard, they're offering networking, credentialing, a brand to connect your name to. But in terms of the actual, there is this lag between the degree that is supposed to be, which is essentially a signal, and how that gets kind of redigested and people rethink. So, you know, a degree from a place like doesn't, I don't think it means what it used to mean. And at the same time, I think a degree from a place like the University of Dallas, where employers are figuring this out, right, employers are will. If I know nothing else and I have to choose between a UD graduate and a Harvard graduate, I'm going Ud every single right, because I know the way that they've actually been formed. Right. And they haven't just been formed to know well read. They've been formed to be virtuous. In a world right now where people can work from home and kind of phone it in and get by doing that and jump from one job to another, the greatest need for almost every employer is virtuous employees who are going to do right by their employer, who are going to do the right thing when nobody's looking. And these schools are doing that, they're forming young people. I think it's been a lot of the, kind of the secret sauce for why CLT has been able to do what we've been able to do is specifically hiring young people from these kinds of colleges. [00:22:44] Speaker A: Okay, I'm going to get to CLT here in a minute. Every time you say something, I think of something else. I'm like, okay, I got to ask this. I'm going to put you on the spot here a little bit. I know there's a Newman guide, of course, for good catholic colleges, and I think most of us catholic parents who are listening, we've consulted that, and it's been just a godsend. But do you have yourself certain catholic colleges that you think are kind of the cream of the crop, like, really ones that you like? You just said if you got a UD versus a Harvard person, you would go with University of Dallas person. Are there certain schools where you're like, if you see that on their resume, that you're like, that's somebody that I know is going to be a solid worker? And all the things you said. [00:23:26] Speaker B: Yeah, I love all the Newman guide schools. I'd be super hard pressed to pick one over another. There's some great colleges as well that are not Newman guide. I think of a place like the catholic study center at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. It's a small enclave in a very large catholic university that is just gold. And so there are some solidly catholic options even outside the Newman guide. One of them that's very special to me is Thomas Aquinas College. I had a chance to go out and visit about a year ago, and you've got 15 students. They're well dressed. They're wearing blazers and ties. They're sitting around a big roundtable, no devices to be seen. Talking at a deep level about the kind of the texts that have shaped human history. I think a tac grad, a UD grad. You talk to them for five minutes, and every time it's kind of like you're a uniquely educated person. You just get that there's a humility, there's an intellectual humility, there's a curiosity as well, and ability to get to the bottom of things as well, which is, again, increasingly hard to come by. [00:24:39] Speaker A: Yeah. How about speaking of a non catholic option? It wouldn't be on Newman guy because it's not Catholic. Hillsdale, the guy who brought me into the church, actually, 30 years ago, he's a professor there. And we have had a number of people at our parish who are actually converts to Catholicism. They went to Hillsdale as a Protestant and became Catholic, even though the school is not itself catholic. Do you have experience with Hillsdale and what it produces? Yeah. [00:25:04] Speaker B: Hillsdale is one of our closest partner colleges, and in fact, about a fourth of all CLT employees are Hillsdale college graduates. So we love to hire. They were one of the early adopters. 2016 17, more than any other college, kind of put us through the wringer. I remember the phone call with Doug Bamber, who's the vp of partnerships, and he said, we love the concept, Jeremy, but we're not going to put the Hillsdale name behind it unless it's up to snuff and form two separate committees to really investigate what we were up to. But really they have helped. The impact of Hillsdale goes far, far beyond Hillsdale, Michigan. And I think they have allowed Americans to reimagine what a college can look like. In fact, one of their taglines is what college ought to be. The first time I saw that, I'm like, that is arrogant right there. And the more I've gotten to know Hillsdale, I'm like, yeah, no, it's basically just accurate. And it really is. And look, they're down to a 17% acceptance rate. And, yeah, no questions asked. I mean, same thing I said about ud. I would say about Hillsdale, if we see a Hillzill applicant coming in, we take that very seriously. And we've never been disappointed. We've never been disappointed. Our whole marketing team, there's four of them, all Hillsdale graduates. And it's a real gift. I think America owes a debt of gratitude to Hillsdale College. [00:26:36] Speaker A: Yeah, I've only heard good things. I'm actually going up next year to Michigan, making a trip. I'm going to try and make a trip over there, because I've actually never been there, even though, like I said, my friend's a professor. So let's talk a little bit now about CLT itself. And so why don't you just explain why did you start it up. And what is it? Because some people might have no idea, actually, what the classic learning test is. [00:27:00] Speaker B: Sure. Yeah. And it's interesting, Eric, because I think folks can initially be a bit skeptical, like, oh, standardized testing. That's not classical. Isn't that where everything went wrong with education? I think it requires starting with what is the college board. The college board is the most powerful organization in american education. They have tentacles in every school in America. Almost not everyone, but 95% right. They control AP curriculum, AP testing, acuplacer, PSAT, SAT, and in fact, the CEO of the college board, David Coleman, I heard him speak, and he put it this way. He said that it is a statement of reality, though not a pretty one, that teachers will teach towards the test and that there's no force on earth strong enough to prevent that. That's the CEO of the college board saying that this is a reality. Teachers will teach towards the test. Okay, so then what do they put on the SAT and the PSAT, if teachers teach towards the test? Well, two years ago, it was Bernie Sanders they put on the SAT. They put a bunch of left wing progressive text. They completely ignore and censor the entire catholic christian intellectual tradition like it just doesn't exist. They pretty much ignore the entire western intellectual tradition as well, in favor of multicultural texts and that kind of thing. So if you imagine just as kind of a thought experiment, what would american education be like if every teacher and student and parent knew that on the SAT, you're likely to encounter St. Augustine or Thomas Aquinas or Aristotle, maybe something from Plato's Republic, it would have a profound, profound impact on american education. So, again, as I said when we hopped on here, I think a really crass way that I heard somebody put it a few years ago was that whoever owns testing ends up kind of controlling and owning education, or having a big influence on it as well. And so what we're doing at CLT is trying to challenge the college board by offering an alternative that colleges can still use. Colleges can equate an SAT and a CLT score to essentially mean something similar in terms of the level of academic ability a student has. But students who are well read, they're comfortable reading Dante, they're comfortable reading Boethius. They're going to be able to do better on the classic learning test than students who have never been exposed to these kinds of texts. And so the hopes here are very big. And ultimately, we hope that in ten years, and I think to some degree, this is happening already, even the parent who's just a pure pragmatist. They just want their kid to get into the best college, and that's all they're thinking about. If we can make the CLT a gold standard in american education, the parents going to say, you know what? If we want them to do well in that, we need to get them into a classical school, a classical christian school, a serious catholic school. We are so quick to forget. We're so quick to forget as a people, as Catholics, we created universities. The modern university system was born out of medieval Christendom. We created so many of the first schools in America. Catholics were the standard for academic excellence. And I believe that the college board occupies the exact spot in american education that the Catholic Church ought to occupy. And unfortunately, that's not the case. And so what we're doing is trying to fill in the gap and offer an alternative that certainly leans into the catholic intellectual tradition and rewards students for being familiar with it. [00:30:57] Speaker A: So if I remember from my days taking many, many years ago, and my kids took it and I didn't pay attention that much, my wife was in charge of most of that. But I remember the SAT. You have your reading, writing, and then I think you have a math section. So how does the CLT fundamentally, what are an example of how the questions would be different, I would assume, on the math section, do you guys have a math section? And if you do, is it any different? But more on the writing and thinking, how does the CLT really bring out somebody who's classically educated, would do better? What's an example of how that would happen? [00:31:33] Speaker B: Sure. Let me give you maybe three or four kind of quick examples. So one of the things that the CLT did is we retained elements of aptitude testing. Aptitude testing. It's not achievement testing. Achievement testing measures mastery of particular body of content. Aptitude testing is trying to get at a well trained mind. Cognitive ability. One of the hallmarks of aptitude testing are analogies. When I took the SAT in the late 90s, early, I graduated in 2000, the SAT was full of analogies. There is not one analogy on the SAT anymore. Not one. Yeah, they completely got rid of them because they went in the direction of achievement testing. The SAT now and the ACt, they're both common core achievement tests is what both of them are. Another way that CLT is doing this is, again, through source material. And so whereas the college board. Maybe you're reading a passage about. I'll just tell you a few of the actual ones. The processing of greek yogurt. Right. Penguins in Antarctica, the Bernie Sanders op ed a couple years ago. Well, what do you see on the CLT? You may see a reading passage from, again, maybe Aristotle's politics, maybe in the modern age, something from Flannery O'Connor, or maybe C. S. Lewis. Right. We even have Dante. I mean, we even have Charles Darwin, Nietzsche on there. We have philosophy. And so this allows students that have had this kind of education to showcase this. It's been really interesting from a data perspective. Our public school students, they don't do very well on the philosophy, religion part of the CLT. They've often never been exposed to these kinds of texts in their life. They may be going into the test, and they've never even heard the word philosophy or theology. So we want to be able to do this on the math side, something very similar. And by the way, the CLP structurally is a very simple structure. It's 40 verbal reasoning questions, 40 grammar writing questions, and then 40 math or quantitative reasoning questions as well. And on the math side, we also retain elements of aptitude testing logic questions, logic questions that don't fall into an algebra one, two geometry or trig box questions that the SAT, again, has gotten away from completely with the new common core aligned SAT, which also has all of the weird common core math now built into it. The CLT math, it looks a lot more like SAt math from the 1980s or 90s, when they were really trying to get at a student's ability to reason well, to use logic to come to an answer. So those are just some of the high level ways. I think that we're quite a bit different. [00:34:29] Speaker A: Yes, it sounds like the SAT is a lot different today than it was when I took it, because I took it in the late eighty s. And I think that logic and reasoning, that's kind of what I was talking about when I was talking about the struggles I had with a lot of people who were in customer service for this tech company I was helping run, because, yeah, they might know the math, they might know the programming language, wherever, but they couldn't say, okay, you have this problem. What are the steps to go about to solve it? Just logically? Okay, if it's. Try this first. If it's not that, then do this. And you had to think some on that because it wasn't always the same. And so just the idea of, okay, I've eliminated these possibilities, so it has to be one of these possibilities. I didn't always see that with people, with a lot of the workers. And so I wonder how much that is, because it's just like you said, not being taught anymore. Now, the SAT and the act, I remember I took both back when I was doing it, and I think my kids might have taken both. Maybe they didn't take the act anymore. I can't remember now. But they are the dominant. They have been for a very long time. They are the dominant test that colleges use for forever. How did you then jump in? I guess it was 2015, I think you'd say you got started. How did you then start to make inroads? It's kind of like a small software company saying, I'm going to take on Apple, or something like that. How did you actually start taking on these behemoths, the CLT story, and just. [00:35:59] Speaker B: Tell you a bit about mean? It's kind of a funny story. What actually happened? And so I was running an SAT ACT prep company. I was working in Mountain de sales academy, a school run by the Nashville Dominicans. And the new SAT was announced. And everybody knew this was a common core alignment. In fact, SAT, the college board hired the chief architect of the Common Core standard, David Coleman, to come and be the CEO and align the SAT with the common core in order to win big state contracts. And so I was running an SATA ACT prep company, and I heard people saying, we didn't sign up for this. We didn't sign on to this. Where's our test? So my idea was I would create a prep course for the new test, because of course there's going to be a new test. Everybody's upset about this alignment with common core. And so I was researching, who's making the new test? Where do you find that? And I realized, nobody's making the new test. And so I thought, wow, this is wild. I wasn't the only one saying, where's the new test? And because I was doing multiple things at the same time, working as a college counselor running an SCDACD prep company, it was easy to have early conversations with folks at places like Christendom and say, hey, how hard would it be to add an alternative? If there was an alternative to the SAT and act that better reflected a christian education, how hard would it be to add that as an option? And right away they said, we would actually love that. Nothing like that exists. And so there's kind of a proof of concept just from early conversations and early on connected with folks at the Newman guide, and they connected me to folks over at the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education, icle. And we started to imagine working with folks like Michael van Ecky. What could this look like we took from Thomas Aquinas College in St. John's, Indianapolis, kind of an initial author bank or kind of a framework for. What is this tradition? We fine tuned it a lot since then. And yeah, it's just been a matter of the more colleges that adopt. The first college to adopt was Magdalene. Unfortunately, Magdalene is shutting its doors, as you may know. But we're at about 250 colleges, and with every college it adopts, it's a lot easier to get new students. And the other thing we're trying to do, Eric, is combine this with really trying to be what I would describe as a chickfila of standardized suspicing, where if you go to chickfila, you can think, man, I'm going to be here for 2 hours. The lines forever, it's a mile long. And then like 90 seconds later, you've got your shake and your nuggets and the right sauce, and the person says, my pleasure. And you're like, man, this place is amazing. We want to offer the same high level of customer service. We exist to serve schools, we exist to serve students, we exist to serve parents. And that attitude of service has really been lost at the college board and at ACT. I remember as a college counselor, I'd have to call the college board a lot. You'd get transferred five times, they'd be annoyed that you're calling. And there is a need, a demand for another option. And a lot of this story, I never thought I would experience God's providence in a business arena, but it was kind of like every time we needed something, the right person seemed to show up. And so it's been an incredible adventure. We think of ourselves as David versus Goliath and like. But people love underdog stories and we love telling the CLT story because in many ways it should never have. No, we had no investors. We had nothing really, but an idea. And it's been a process of locking arms with people who share this vision for education as human formation, as the cultivation of love for Christ and church, that we've been able to do this seemingly impossible thing. But it's been a big effort and a lot of people have been instrumental in it. [00:40:11] Speaker A: I noticed that my older kids, they started going off to college, I think 2016, something like that, but then some. So through the COVID years and after Covid, well, during COVID it seemed like some of these universities were starting to drop testing, standardized testing requirements. And it seems that in some cases it's lingering on. And have you found that our schools in general, maybe not even ones that take CLT, but just maybe sat. Are more and more schools starting to drop the standardized testing and how does that impact you guys? [00:40:44] Speaker B: Yeah, it's really hard to respond here in less than five minutes because there's so much behind the test optional movement. So the test optional movement begins really about in college in the 1960s. It's been around for a long time and it grew over the years, groups like fair test and others. But it's become part of the conversation around diversity, equity and inclusion. And when you think about a place like Harvard or Chapel Hill, a standardized testing is a measure of objective criteria. And when there's a hyper focus on shaping a class around some of these issues involving race, if you have a standardized test, there's then a liability that you're not being fair. Right. And so as these colleges have become more and more focused on shaping a class that they want to bring in for these various reasons, that's a separate conversation. A standardized test has made it hard for them to do that. Now it also creates other challenges by moving away from that as well. Colleges want to have a high retention rate and not knowing where students are at on an objective criteria. Now, on the flip side, I think you've had on the right, and this is the case with Florida, Florida is now a CLT state. I mean, the whole public university system in Florida utilizes CLT. Florida State, University of Florida. More than half of our students are now in Florida. We're working with a lot of even districts. But I think in states where you've got red legislatures, where you've got more conservative board of governors, in these kind of states, they want this objective, hard look at academic performance, that regardless of race or ethnicity, that students are going to be held to the same level of academic excellence for both graduation and college entrants. So the future of test optional, I don't know. We saw MIT go back to requiring a test. Purdue went back, University of Dallas just went back to requiring a could. I think that we're going to see a little bit of a pendulum swing back towards testing, but I don't think it'll be like it was before, or at least for some time. But I think increasingly it is more conservative educators or education states that are really leaning into it still. [00:43:26] Speaker A: Okay, I want to wrap it up. [00:43:28] Speaker B: Here in a minute. [00:43:29] Speaker A: I just want to ask from like a parent perspective because I think a lot of our listeners probably have parents, maybe younger kids and stuff like that. But as a parent, what would you recommend to parents looking on the education of their kids for both. And we haven't really talked about homeschooling, obviously, and there's homeschooling options that are classical and things like that. But for parents who are looking at schools for high school and for college that aren't homeschool options, what would be kind of the recommendation of the guidelines, obviously, the Newman guide and stuff like that. And then there's certain high schools. But what should the parents be looking for when they're looking for these schools for their kids? [00:44:12] Speaker B: Yeah, it's incredible. I would say one of the things, especially as catholic, certainly access to the sacraments, I think it's the best indication of how serious catholic school is, is how are you connected to the sacramental life of the church? How often do your kids have access to confession? How often do you go to mass as an entire school? Is it every day? My kiddos go to Divine Mercy Academy and daily mass every day starts off with mass. A lot of catholic schools, maybe once a month. There's a lot of catholic schools that have NFL level athletic complex and they've got no chapel. They do chapel a couple of times a semester in the cafeteria or something. It's kind of a distant afterthought. So I think touring campus, getting a sense of how prioritized are the sacraments of the church, I think it's the best way to do it. [00:45:06] Speaker A: Okay. Well, yeah, that does sound to be the priority. What else can you tell? Anything. Tell us how to find out more about CLT. Like as a parent, as an educator, if somebody with university is watching or anything like that, how can you find out more about it? Yeah. [00:45:22] Speaker B: Thanks, Eric. Yeah. Cltexam.com is our website. We offer assessments from third grade all the way to the CLT senior year in high school. One note. A lot of people don't use the CLT for college entrance. A lot of schools, a lot of high schools, they use the CLT more for internal insight into the academic progress of their students every year. And so if you're a catholic school and you care, how are kids doing in terms of their ability to read and understand? Great philosophy, great religious text, classical literature. CLT is really the only standardized testing assessment they can get at that kind of data. [00:46:06] Speaker A: Well, good. So I will make sure I link to the website in the description, the show notes so people can find it. I think it's great. I know that the SAT, I don't think we'd heard of CLT. When my oldest went off to school and having her take the SAT and ACT, my wife would just tell her basically this is just a thing we have to do and we're just going to game the system. It doesn't mean this is a stupid test, but we have to do it. And so I'm going to make it so you can do well in this test. But I haven't educated you at all to do well in this test because this test is stupid. And so it was nice and by the time our fourth kid was there was this option, okay, just take this test and we're going to see how well we did because we homeschooled how well we did teaching them. And I think that's something homeschoolers as well can get some benefit from is taking these tests as well to kind of see, okay, how am I doing? How's the program I'm using doing? [00:47:04] Speaker B: Eric, I really want to stress before we get off, we don't want to over. I graduated in 2000 and back then it was almost like your SAT score was like branded on your forehead. You're a 1020 for life. You're a 1020. And there was an overemphasis on what this score meant and how it. [00:47:24] Speaker A: I actually still know my score. I'm not going to say what it is. I know my score on my SAT. I know it to this day from more than 30 years, 35 years ago just because like you said, it's like branded into you. This is your identity. Sorry to interrupt, but I just reminded you. [00:47:39] Speaker B: Yeah. And it's not that. It's not that big of a deal, but it's also not no deal. And so what we want to say is, look, this is a helpful snapshot into where your son or daughter is at in some key academic areas at a given moment in time. It's not anything more than that. It doesn't mean you failed as a parent, but you might see, wow, we've got some work to do in grammar writing. We've got some work to do in terms of geometry. You're going to be able to get that kind of insight. But it's really important that parents sit down with their kiddos and kind of process and have the conversation about scores because we don't want students to make this the end all be all. It's far more important that students love learning, that they love books than that they get a good CLT score. [00:48:26] Speaker A: Right. Great. Well, thank you. I really appreciate, Jeremy, you being on the program. Hopefully people check you guys out and keep up the good work. I mean, it's great to have an option against the borg of the college board. So I really appreciate. So thanks for being on, Jeremy. [00:48:40] Speaker B: Eric, thanks so much for having me. [00:48:42] Speaker A: Okay, until next time, love.

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