Florida’s New College Entrance Exam: A Leap Backwards or Just Right-Leaning?

The Florida Education Board of Governors is on the brink of shaking up the college admissions game. They’re weighing the idea of embracing a new test – the Classic Learning Test (CLT). The catch? It’s not your average standardized test. Some say it’s steeped in Christian-centric views and leans heavily into Western thought.

Spawned in 2015, the CLT is currently waltzing its way into over 200 colleges and universities, most of which wave the Christian flag. Its main thrust? Emphasizing literature and humanities that shine a spotlight on Western society, especially those fun-loving Christian authors. It’s being toted as the cool alternative to the well-known SAT and ACT.

But here’s the juicy bit: The CLT seems tailor-made for students who’ve been marinated in a classical education. For the uninitiated, that’s an education style that harks back to Western literature classics, taught using the Socratic method. But wait, there’s more! Some of these classical education institutions are now pushing far-right ideals. Red flag, anyone?

Let’s talk about Hillsdale College in Michigan. Not only has it sprouted numerous K-12 classical education charter schools around the U.S., but it also threw its weight behind former President Trump’s “1776 Report” – a cheeky retort to the more inclusive 1619 Project. Critics argue the report was heavy on white nationalism and light on actual, comprehensive American history. And let’s not even get started on the Hillsdale-affiliated school that canned its principal over the “obscene” depiction of Michelangelo’s “David” sculpture.

The brains behind the CLT? They say they’re all about connecting “knowledge and virtue” and deny any political slant. But let’s be real: their language and promises sound eerily similar to the chatter from far-right corners that are hell-bent on revamping the nation’s educational blueprint.

Now, if you think this is just another test, think again. Analysts have highlighted that the CLT, much like the SAT and ACT, favors those with fatter wallets and plush educational backgrounds. Akil Bello from FairTest made waves with a biting critique in Forbes, calling out the state’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, for pushing this test to forward his vision of public education.

To quote Bello, “By approving the CLT, Florida’s powers-that-be are signaling they care more about belief in what the test might do, rather than the actuality of what it’s shown to do.”