Anchored by the Classic Learning Test

Clark Durant and Anika Prather on Bringing Classical Education to Inner-City Detroit - Part 2

July 20, 2023 Classic Learning Test
Anchored by the Classic Learning Test
Clark Durant and Anika Prather on Bringing Classical Education to Inner-City Detroit - Part 2
Show Notes Transcript

On this episode of Anchored, Soren is again joined by Clark Durant and welcomes Anika Prather, author of The Black Intellectual Tradition: Reading Freedom in Classical Literature and founder of The Living Water School and Center. The three discuss the influence of canon philosophers and thought on Civil Rights Movement leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. Durant and Prather also talk about their unlikely partnership and shared passion for the great conversation of common humanity, serviced best by classical education. Durant explains the thought process and steps behind transitioning Cornerstone schools to a classical education model and gives a message to aspiring classical school teachers and leaders. Prather talks about her new role as Director of High-Quality Curriculum Instruction at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy and its role in improving schools' curricula through research. 


Soren Schwab (CLT):

Welcome back to the Anchored Podcast, the official podcast of the Classic Learning Test. My name is Soren Chua, VP of Partnerships here at CLT. And today is part two of our conversation with Clark Durant, CEO of the Cornerstones Education Group, a charter management company that serves over 3,000 children across five campuses. For this second episode, we're also joined by our very good friend, Anika Prather. Dr. Prather earned her BA from Howard University in Elementary Education. She also has earned several graduate degrees in education from NYU and Howard University. She has a master's in liberal arts from St. John's College in Annapolis, and a PhD in English theater and literacy education from the University of Maryland College Park. Her research focus is on building literacy with African-American students through engagement in the books of the canon. She is the author of, Living in the Consolation of the Canon, the Lived Experiences of African-American Students, Reading Great Books Literature. which she self-published. Anika is also the co-author of the Black Intellectual Tradition, along with her fellow CLT board member, Dr. Angel Parm. She currently serves as director of high quality curriculum instruction at Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. And she's the founder of the Living Water School, a unique Christian school for independent learners based on the educational philosophies of classical education and the Sudbury model. In the spring of 2022, Anika and her husband opened the Living Water Centre, located in Alexandria, Maryland, where activities for the Living Water School, book talks, and other events are hosted. She and her wonderful husband Damon have three young children in the other side, not far from the CLT offices in the DC metropolitan area. Clark, Anika, we're so delighted to have you on today.


Anika:

Thank


clark durant:

Our


Anika:

you.


clark durant:

pleasure.


Anika:

And that's Alexandria, Virginia, actually. We moved


Soren Schwab (CLT):

Virginia,


Anika:

to Virginia.


Soren Schwab (CLT):

you're right, you're right. I should


Anika:

Right


Soren Schwab (CLT):

know


Anika:

by


Soren Schwab (CLT):

that,


Anika:

you.


Soren Schwab (CLT):

it's just down the street, you're right.


Anika:

Yeah.


Soren Schwab (CLT):

Gosh, I love King Street. It's a charming,


Anika:

Yes.


Soren Schwab (CLT):

charming town. Also welcome back to our listeners. If you have not checked out Tuesday's episode with Clark, I encourage you to do so. Clark has an amazing life story and he is a fantastic storyteller, as I'm sure he will demonstrate again here today. Last time, Clark, we talked about how your practicing law led to you founding the Cornerstone schools in Detroit. We learned about the school's history and mission and the transitioning of the schools to a classical model. We finished the episode by briefly talking about your good friend Andrew J. Young. So I'd love to pick it up there, Clark. Tell us about the Andrew J. Young Cornerstone Center for Complete Life.


clark durant:

Well, it's interesting, Sorin, that you want to lead the conversation with that. Um, on July 3rd, just before Independence Day, uh, Ambassador Young, I call him Andy, Andy called me, um, to just get caught up. He was asking about the schools, about our teachers. Um, Andy had been married. His first wife, Jean had been an elementary school teacher, the mother of their four children. And when Jean died, uh, Andy married another teacher. Uh, Carolyn and they've been married for well over 25 years now, uh, but both teachers and Andy was just checking in, uh, given the independence day was coming up, uh, and so what was so precious about the call, it was in October of 2021, uh, that we did the dedication, uh, Delta airlines, uh, the CEO at Bastion. came up from Atlanta and joined us with Ambassador Young in Detroit on Grove Street to celebrate the creation of the Andrew J. Young Cornerstone Center for the Complete Life. And it was really a remarkable thing because it really began our journey into the Cole Classical mindset, which is a mindset rich in seeking after the things that are good. the things that are just, the things that are true and beautiful. And our dedication closed with a very beautiful moment. If you recall, there was an iconic photograph, um, of a young, uh, Reverend Andrew Young in the parking lot of a Baptist church with all these different civil rights leaders on their knees. And it is just, it's 1965, and it is just before they were about to begin a journey into hell across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and all around their knees. And young Reverend Andrew Young is standing there with his hand out stretched. And you can see that he is invoking and asking the love and the power of God to be with these men and women before they begin this journey. It's an iconic photograph, not well known. But as we finished the program, I got down from the little stage that we'd created, an auditorium full of children, their families, teachers and staff, and I walked over to the ambassador. And I asked him to close this journey of creating this center for complete life. Now, that complete life, as the Reverend Dr. King taught us, is to live for a purpose born. to be a person for others and to know God. And so I said to the ambassador, I said, would you close our dedication with the prayer you gave that day in that parking lot in 1965? Now, Ambassador Young has had, he's 90 years old now, 91 really, and he's got a little scooter, so he doesn't stand up very much. But you could see. the way he began to try to rise, to stand on his own feet. And slowly he was pushing himself up and he reached his hand out just as he had done that day in 1965 and began to pray for the dedication and the gathering that we had. There was not


Anika:

I'm out.


clark durant:

a sound to be heard except the silk and music of his voice. And it was a beautiful moment. but it's also a classical moment because going all the way back to Athens, to Socrates, to Plato, to Rome, Jerusalem, all of it is rooted in an understanding of an ordered universe and that there is a purpose for every person and that we have to live to that purpose. So for Cornerstone, that dedication with Ambassador Young, and I was very touched, honestly, uh, by his call. I mean, he can talk to anybody and I'm a nothing, but he made that call on July 3rd and we talked about, um, the. Rich classical education that King had because 60 years ago in 1963, King gave two very seminal and classical addresses. The first was a letter written from a Birmingham jail. And that was in April. of 1963. That August, it was on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the I have a dream. And both of those remarks, talks, letters are richly enhanced because of his classical education. We talked about other things. In fact, I'm sending out a letter to our Cornerstone partner community tomorrow that reflects that dimension of learning. And Sorin and Anika, I'll see that you get a copy too. And you can share it with your listeners, but it's a beautiful thing because we've begun a journey. Uh, and I'm very grateful to Anika, uh, and to her, you know, co-author of the black intellectual tradition, uh, Angel Parham. These are great women, women in what they have done to open up the moral imagination for people to appreciate why. All of us should be taking this journey to live a more full and flourishing human life.


Soren Schwab (CLT):

That is absolutely beautiful. And I can only agree, Clark, and as some of our listeners might know, both Anika and Angel are serving on our board, and we're just so grateful to have them. And during one quarter last year, as a whole company, we read Anika and Angel's book, and I encourage everyone to get a copy. It's called The Black Intellectual Tradition by Classical Academic Press, published by Classical Academic Press. And it was just beautiful to see, because I know both of you, and reading the different chapters, I can hear you and I can hear Angel through your voice and your writing is different, but it is absolutely beautiful. Well, Anika and Clark, you have such a sweet relationship. I can tell just in the few minutes leading up to the recording. Anika, why don't you tell us, when did you first meet Clark or hear about Clark and where?


Anika:

God is so amazing because I met Clark many years ago, before my daughter was even born, so it was probably about 12 years ago. I had just taken on a position as a principal at a school called Cornerstone, D.C. And I was hired because I had been serving at my parents' classical school, bringing classical education to a black community there, and they wanted to now really transition the school to being more classical. but just needed someone who had done it before. And so they sent me as part of my training though, to Cornerstone DC to learn about fundraising and how at that time I think one of your schools or some of your schools were not charter yet. And so there was a whole fundraising process that they wanted me to learn that they had modeled themselves after. And so Cornerstone DC has really, I mean, Cornerstone Detroit has really been a model for schools that are bringing Christian or private school education to underserved populations without depending on the government, but using private funding. And so I went there and as you can see, that's 12 years ago, but I just never can forget Clark's personality. I, he was a really, had a really short meeting because most of my time was spent in the schools and visiting the schools and with the development team and different principals. And there was a woman, he was who was helping to lead the schools at the time. But I had a brief meeting,


clark durant:

Ernest Ains Sanders.


Anika:

yes, Ernestine Sanders, and my time with her was very memorable as well. But Clark, I couldn't forget his name, his first and last name, I couldn't forget his face. And I think what made him so memorable is his passion for Detroit. And he didn't have to be, you know? And a lot of times, you know, I'm... I know a lot of times people may read that and think different things, but when I met him, I saw such sincerity about bringing a quality education to this community. You know, and I was, my parents served a similar community and then Cornerstone was in one of the worst neighborhoods of Detroit, I mean, of DC, the one I was serving in. And those are communities that are often forgotten. Our own, sometimes our government in the public school system forgets these communities. that deserve these children, these families, deserves equitable education just as good as any other child, no matter who their parent is or what neighborhood they live in. And so I was just really drawn to his passion for that. And I just never forgot it. Move on, I thought I'd never see him again. I did all my training and I just kept thinking about his joy for this work. And then... a mutual friend of ours, Eric Twist, and I had developed a friendship through my work with Great Hearts. And Eric reached out to me, he said, listen, there's a school, I've been telling the founder about you, and have you ever heard of Clark Durant? I was like, Clark, yes, I remember Clark! And he says, well, they're wanting, he wants to make his schools classical. I said, oh, I would love to see him again! And... And so it was almost like we picked up from where we left off in that brief meeting. And I was just honored. My husband is from Detroit. He graduated from Detroit Public Schools. He grew up in the neighborhoods of Detroit. I go to Detroit at least twice a year to hang out with family and friends because all of my in-laws there and I also have some friends there. At the church we attend, we have like another church home in Detroit, is right in the heart of Detroit. And so I, yeah, I've developed a love and a heart for Detroit and that community myself. So this, this reconnection, um, with Clark Rosedale, Rosedale Baptist church was the name of the, that's the name of the church I attend when I go. But, um, I felt this opportunity to reconnect with Clark started back then, because I felt like God really connected us, uh, with similar vision. And then the other part that I, and then, and so here we are reconnected again and I'm talking with Clark and even in what he's just shared with you, I think what really drew me is he constantly gets back to this great conversation that has involved, involved all of our voices, you know, like coming into the classical world, you just don't see people have that kind of a conversation. where Martin Luther King is in dialogue with St. Thomas Aquinas, you know, or as even himself, he's practicing it, his relationship with Andrew Young, you know, and then you go to visit the schools and you see the murals all around the school that he's really trying to pass that understanding onto that community that this creation and founding and progress of America has been a joint effort with blacks and whites and many others. engaged in this great conversation around this literature that has shaped all of our thinking, especially the thinking of our ancestors. And so I feel like this move of cornerstone becoming classical is a natural, it makes sense. It makes sense because it connects very much to the heart of Clark. And it is an embodiment of what I feel God wants for our communities, that it's not his will. that we're segregated. And we know that racism plays a big part of that. But I feel, and I think I know Clark agrees, we've talked about this. I feel, and sorry, you know what I'm about to say, that classics is like, we need to gather around this fire of classics together. Our ancestors have been doing it, right? Frederick Douglass did it with Abraham Lincoln. Martin Luther King did it with all the different canon writers he wrote about and taught about at Morehouse. And it helped shape. He says it in his autobiography. These philosophers have shaped the civil rights movement for me. And so I feel like if we can train the next generation to continue that legacy. And especially the communities that are often the most forgotten. What an example that would be to the world. What an example that would be to the world to see Clark. and myself who are as different as literal night and day.


Soren Schwab (CLT):

Ha ha


clark durant:

Yeah, I play golf and she doesn't.


Anika:

Hahaha


Soren Schwab (CLT):

I'm gonna go.


Anika:

coming together for this common purpose to engage in this great conversation. And so sometimes people will ask me, why don't I talk about some of the, am I gonna say the names, the different theories and philosophies that are out now? And I tell people, I'm having a whole other conversation. You can come over here and join me over at this conversation. We're not having these politically charged conversation. I just wanna have a conversation about our common humanity. And we modeled that. by engaging with those who also wrote about common humanity of their time. And then we work through our differences. We come to understand each other's context, each other's stories. And then this work is involving training the young people to do that so they can carry on that legacy. So that's how, and all of that is connected to, I believe what connected Clark and I back then and what continues to forge our friendship. even now.


Soren Schwab (CLT):

That is really, really special. Well, Clark, when you made the decision to transition your schools to a classical model, I mean, what was the thought process, not only going into it, but it seems like a large task. Where do you start? Well, there's pedagogy, there's curriculum, there's what else is there? Can you talk to us a little bit? And then of course, how you ended up connecting with Eric and then through Eric with Anika and her role in that.


clark durant:

Well, it started with me taking five people to New York City, but to have them visit the classical schools in the Bronx. There are five of them there, four of them there. But I did it in the context where we would spend time. They didn't know the agenda. I knew the agenda. They just trusted me and we'll just go to New York. We'll spend two days. So what was the experience? We obviously went to the charter schools in the Bronx, but I also took them to a play on Broadway, into the woods, the Sondheim production, because there was a cornerstone graduate who had a role in that play on Broadway. And so we talked with him afterwards. I took them to a poetry reading that first things, had sponsored in a sort of an upper warehouse loft, if you will. So they heard a poet from Louisiana read poetry. It was a beautiful evening. We had, you know, some cheese crackers, the usual thing. Then we had further conversation back where we were staying. I took some early in the morning, honestly, to mass. so that they could see in a very classically beautiful New York church, the architecture but also the liturgy of the high mass. It was just an experience to begin to taste an aspect of this conversation. I like the way Anika talks about that, to taste this conversation in a couple of different venues. When we got back, A friend of mine, I was chairman of the board of the Society of Gilbert Keith Chesterton. And as you know, they have almost 50 classical Catholic schools around the country. And one of the board members I recruited, I called and said, look, I'm thinking about this for Cornerstone. I don't want this to be my decision. I want it to be a decision that arises organically because it's the right direction to go. He recommended Eric Twist. Uh, so I invited Eric out to have dinner with some of our people and just to talk. Uh, then I gathered in a conference room, uh, two of our principals, our academic leader and a couple of other strategic leader, and just to talk about what would this look like. On the, we were there for a few hours, to put it mildly. And then in that conversation, Eric brings out this book and he gives it to one of our principals, Monica Thompson. who was also on the trip to New York with me. And it's the Black intellectual tradition, reading the classics on the road to freedom by Anika and Angel. And I'm looking over Monica's shoulder, I'm saying, Eric, you got another copy of that? And Monica said, okay, Mr. Durant, you can read mine. I said, no, you keep it. I'm a prime guy, I'll have it by tomorrow. So anyway, I read it. I was very touched by the approach and I thought it was really good because both Angel and Anika write in a different way and had a sort of a different emphasis, but that made it even better. So then I said, I need to take people, that room in the conference room said, we'd like to go in this direction. And you can't do, you gotta have a small core, but you gotta build from that. So then I identified with that group, 17 people. that I would then take to Phoenix for the national classical school convention in February of this year. And I ordered enough copies, you know, Anika is going to be able to retire. Well, I've ordered so many copies of her book,


Anika:

Hehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehe


clark durant:

but anyway, uh, I ordered more than 18 copies, but I gave one to every person who was going to go with, go with me, uh, and then I made sure they had to read it before they go. And then, you know, when you travel with me, it's There's no break. You start early, you finish late, you get some sleep, you get some food, sometimes on the run. But we had a beautiful experience over those three days. And at that Friday, when we were doing a debrief, and it was really a rich, in fact, Angel Parham, who was one of the speakers there, agreed to have lunch with our 18 people. And that was a beautiful conversation. It was a beautiful conversation. Anyway, that Friday afternoon, I said to the group, Um, you know, the debrief and at the end of it, I said, do you want to go in this direction? And this is why what an Anika's insight is so good. You know, I'm a conservative Republican and I know that the politics of some of the people who work for me are not what I am, but that's okay. To a person, to a person without reservation, they all want to take this journey. So when we got back, um, I don't let anything. You know, I don't let, if this is a good moment, you gotta take advantage of it. So I called together the boards of our four charter schools. There are five of them, but there are only four boards. And I asked the group and 12 of them were available to do it to come and make a presentation to the board members. What did they learn? Why did they wanna do this? And it was very touching because they were all different. with the common thing that this will take us to a place we need to go.


Anika:

Yes, yes,


Soren Schwab (CLT):

Well,


clark durant:

It was a beautiful thing. So


Anika:

yes.


Soren Schwab (CLT):

well.


clark durant:

by organically trying to move in this direction is much better than just trying, I could have just, as the founder and CEO, all this stuff, but that would never then be able to plant the seeds into the garden, that it's the garden that has to bear fruit. And that's really what this.


Anika:

Yes.


Soren Schwab (CLT):

Wow, wow, that is amazing. Well, Anika, as I mentioned in the introduction, you serve as Director of High Quality Curriculum and Instruction at Johns Hopkins for Education Policy. So tell us a little bit about the Institute, your work there, and then of course your work with Cornerstone Schools moving forward. Because I assume it's not gonna end at, we read your book, right? There's gonna be some involvement, so why don't


Anika:

Yes,


Soren Schwab (CLT):

you share about that?


Anika:

yes, I've been at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. Next year it will be one year. And my, I wear several hats there in my role. I support the Knowledge Map, which is the director of that is Amy Fuller. And what she does is an online way of assessing the quality of curriculum, covering different seminal topic areas and making sure different things are covered or not covered. It's done very privately. We don't promote the findings for each school or publisher that wants us to do it. But it just shows them the weak areas, the strengths, the points that they're hitting well. So they can know if the curriculum is knowledge rich. So that's the knowledge map. And then we make recommendations for that. And Amy runs that, but I support that, help with the reviews, help with giving the reports and giving the curriculum suggestions. Then I have my own curated projects that I lead. And one of them will be something like Cornerstone. It's always designed by the client. They come to us with a specific need that they have. And if it fits the expertise that I have in education, then I design a project to help them reach that goal. But that project is connected to research. So that, for the client, and we also believe that the work we do is not just for the client, but it is because we believe all of this work that we're doing with these individual clients. is or people who come to us is to give society a better understanding of education and what needs to be done to improve it. And so everything we do has to go beyond just, hey, let me help you with your curriculum, let me help you make your school better. But there has to be some data, some type of, most times it's quantitative data to just show, look, when we did this with this school, look what happened in their school. Look how the lives of the students changed. Look how their scores are there. testing with that. Look how the mentality of teachers and the community changed as a result of this. And then that becomes some type of report released out to the public so that others can learn about the implications that this project has for other schools and other learning communities. And so this project that I'm doing with Cornerstone is one that I've designed that is connected to looking at how this change in classical education, going from a traditional charter school. into being a classical charter school will affect the thinking of the community, the mindset of the community and their viewpoints on learning, their viewpoints on history and what is really, what is academic rigor? What does that really mean? And how does that help me reach my goals when I become an adult? And all of this will hopefully tell the world a story. The mistake that people make about classical education is that it is racist, that it is white supremacist, that people who are bringing classical education into these various diverse communities have some type of political agenda. And I go back to that and I think about the history of education in America, we as a country, I know my community, since we got out of captivity, have fought for equal education, have fought to have a rigorous, high quality education. All of Du Bois' writings are on this topic. It is a battle and a Julia Cooper was constantly fighting. Martin Luther King has spoken on this. James Baldwin


clark durant:

Thank


Anika:

has spoken


clark durant:

you.


Anika:

on this. And I could go on and on. Even the Black Panther started their own school to address this problem. It has been a constant battle of, I was watching the hidden figures, like libraries, the Black library, not having high quality books just to read, that sometimes Black people had to sneak into the white library to get the quality books they needed to learn more, to expand their learning. Here we have charter schools, though, are going into these same communities and saying, we want to give you this, the very thing your ancestors yearned for. We're gonna give it to you. And so we see evidence of this possibility. It could something like this close the knowledge gap. You know? What can happen in black communities? Are they gonna come through these schools and wanna vote for the next Republican candidate? No, that's not the message that's being taught there. It's simply people having a perspective that maybe we can heal. what we're going through by providing this language, this literacy that all of our ancestors had, of all races that will find themselves here in America. And maybe these tools will give them what they need to write things like letter from a Birmingham jail. Like we're literally, the charter schools that I visit, Cornerstone now, transitioning into this, but I think of Hillsdale, I think of Optima, I think of Cornerstone DC does this. I think of Great Hearts, I think, and if I'm not mentioning your name, charge it to my head, not to my heart. All of these schools have this, they're doing something very similar. I see Black history, they're trying to bring in Black history in light of its connection to how the canon has undergirded many Black liberation movements. And they're trying to provide this way of giving our students access to another part of their heritage that has been kept from them so that they can become equal participants in our democratic process. And so that's what I see in Clark. And we definitely have different perspectives politically, but that's a whole nother conversation for another day. But


Soren Schwab (CLT):

Episode


Anika:

one


Soren Schwab (CLT):

3


Anika:

thing we...


Soren Schwab (CLT):

of


Anika:

Right. But,


Soren Schwab (CLT):

Anchored


Anika:

right.


Soren Schwab (CLT):

coming up. Just kidding.


Anika:

But we do agree on this. We do agree that this education is for everyone, every child.


clark durant:

You know, it's interesting, and I'm grateful for the way Anika has framed this. But if you want to take one little allegory, and it's the allegory of the cave in Plato's Republic.


Anika:

Yes.


clark durant:

So what does it really mean? It's about that what Plato is trying to say in this conversation with Socrates is that we live in a world of shadows and reflections.


Anika:

Mm-hmm.


clark durant:

and not in reality. That we live in a world in which we are firmly convinced that we see these shadows on the wall as the reality,


Anika:

Yes.


clark durant:

when in point of fact, they're not.


Anika:

Yes.


clark durant:

And how do you then develop the discernment, which requires humility, which requires deep humility, to look inside oneself


Anika:

Yes.


clark durant:

and say, how do I walk out of the cave into the sunlight And as Churchill referred to the uplands, the sunlit uplands,


Anika:

Yes.


clark durant:

in order to really come to grips with the things that are real and that are richly beyond ourselves. The world is ultimately beyond ourselves. And we have this sense of living in the cave and limiting the true beauty that has been created for us to live in.


Anika:

You know, and I think one thing people don't realize, everyone, all communities don't realize that America's creation and progress was one great big conversation.


clark durant:

Sure was.


Anika:

You know, and so, and a lot of times the communities that places like Cornishone will be serving in some of the other schools that I've mentioned, my school, the Living Water School, is another school. It's not a charter school, but same vision is It's a way of inviting these communities into the conversation. Historically, there's been a desire to keep them out of the conversation. But when I think of people like John Lewis, he said, no, no. I'm going to insert myself into this conversation. But he had to be equipped to do that. And so when you look at the different stories of, especially if we just even let's put a microscope on American history. When we think about the founding fathers, we only think it's only them. But we also realize that as America was created and established and through all of its pain, there is this other beautiful story that I see. And some people get frustrated with me because I always talk about this beautiful story in the midst of the other stuff. But as a woman of faith, the Lord tells me to think on those things that are good and true and virtuous. So I choose to think about those things. if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, he admonishes us again, think on these things. So it's not that I'm forgetting my history, I definitely think about it, but I don't stay there. And then I hone in and I see this other beautiful story. And this beautiful story involves people like John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, and so on and so forth. engaged in this great conversation. There were arguments, there was fighting, there was, I don't agree with you. I don't want to have the kind of government you want to have. You know, America wasn't, it looks like it, but America wasn't founded as a dictatorship. It looks like it. I know if anyone's listening to me, but that's not really how it was founded. It was founded to invite people to the conversation. Once America established who was all, that all these people were all human, no matter the shade of their skin, then we invite everyone to this great conversation. And so The role of these charter schools is saying that we're not trying to indoctrinate you into a certain way, regardless of what the founder may believe. And I'm not actually, I'm not political law because they all get on my nerves, but that's also another story. But my point is that we're saying we need your diverse opinions. We need your different worldviews. So that America, this is, if you look at even the Congress, you have two sides of. You have two sides so that you can have this conversation, this argument in this structured way to hash out some really difficult decisions so we get closer and closer to America becoming a more perfect union. So these charter schools are engaged in training its students to be a part of that democratic process. It's the only way forward.


clark durant:

You know, one of the things that's, and I appreciate again what Awanika has teed this up in the way in which she has in her sort of low key shy manner,


Anika:

I'm going to go ahead and turn it off.


clark durant:

that Cornerstone intentionally names our schools after a founder and a civil rights leader.


Anika:

But that's right.


clark durant:

So we have Washington and Parks. We have Lincoln and King, Madison and Carver, Jefferson and Douglas. Now that's an interesting conversation.


Anika:

Yeah.


clark durant:

Adams and Adams and Young.


Anika:

Yes.


clark durant:

But we do it because


Anika:

I


clark durant:

we


Anika:

love


clark durant:

want


Anika:

that.


clark durant:

ourselves and our kids and everybody to understand it's an unfolding story


Anika:

Yes.


clark durant:

with glory and failure, but it's an unfolding story toward this more perfect union. And it's, it's really rich because there were differences of opinion, in the forming of this, the Harvard historian, Bernard Balin, once remarked that one of the significant reasons the Declaration of Independence was so important. He said, prior to the declaration, people didn't focus very much on the question of slavery. It was, people were used to it, it'd been a part of human history and whatever. And he said, but after 17, July 4, 1776, that's about all a lot of people wanted to talk about because the... a covenantial document of our country would recognize something that was inconsistent with the founding promise.


Anika:

Yes.


clark durant:

And this unfolding conversation and effort to live to our promises is why this, you know, Ronald Reagan, I'm going to tell two things. Ronald Reagan said America is the last best hope for the world. And Andrew Young on the phone call with me on Monday. said the same thing, recognizing both men, recognizing the uniqueness of this experiment that in good faith would allow this kind of conversation. And Andy always refers to the fact that the healing will come through forgiveness


Anika:

Yes.


clark durant:

and gratitude. It cannot come through any other way because it's like carrying a grudge. And it weighs you down. And what Anika said about focusing on the things that are good, forgiveness allows the deck to be clean and for people to re-see each other.


Anika:

Yes.


clark durant:

That's a classical road.


Anika:

And then another good attribute and connected to that is when the phrase, when they say classical education talks about the good, the true. So as we work through that forgiveness and see, this is why I say classics or the canon is like a great equalizer. It kind of stabilizes things. It helps to neutralize as well so that you may come with your life and human experiences. and you may come to this place where you're still hurting about that. When you share a book with someone, but I wish I could remember that quote that Cormac, he just passed away. It's a great author. He wrote


Soren Schwab (CLT):

McCarthy.


Anika:

this book about how books have out of, no matter what arguments you're having, a book will bond you together like blood. And so what happens is when I myself, a black woman who goes through racist experiences, even today, has gone through them throughout her life, but finds a book of someone written outside of my time. This is why, like you said earlier, Soren, that beyond 20 years ago, but before I was even born, hundreds of years ago. And I share that book with someone like Clark, and I can talk to him about my experiences, and he can talk to me about his experiences. And we may not always agree or come to a full connection. but it creates a safe space to have these hard conversations. So that as we're working towards forgiveness, that forgiveness is rooted in truth. And that we each are able to share where we're coming from, from our human experiences. And then we figure out, and this book can inspire, a book can inspire us to think about, okay, this is who I am, this is who you are. Where do we go from here? And maybe this book gives some enlightenment for that process.


Soren Schwab (CLT):

Beautiful. Well, I think, and I think thank you both for sharing. In my time here with CLT and visiting so many schools, I think, the one thing that I've noticed in particular at classical schools, it just feels different, right? And let's take the curriculum, you know, or maybe even pedagogy, but just you walk through the halls and there seems to be just a joy for learning. that these schools instill this love for learning, that they want to know more about all these people, even people that don't look like them. They want to know more about the history. They want to learn the philosophy behind it. And I think part of that is also good teachers. Like good teachers go into these schools having a heart for this kind of education, but most importantly, having a heart for these children, wanting to pass down the best of what's been thought and said to them and building up that next generation. Clark. We've had many anchored episodes talking about kind of the void or the leadership gap of teachers, right? And we don't have enough to meet the demand. If you can kind of share a little bit about, you know, kind of how are you trying to recruit or what would you tell maybe young teacher that's listening, that is looking for a challenge? What would you say to them as they might be thinking about their next steps in their career?


clark durant:

In a curious way, it's sort of simple. Everybody wants to know that their life counted for something. And it will count for even more when it's no longer about your life. It is about the life of those that you help. It's about the life of those that you learn with. And it's a rare opportunity to teach in an environment that is about the things we've been talking about for this last 45 minutes to an hour. And to bring a heart seeking, not a job, but a calling, but also a chance to grow oneself. And there are many teaching jobs and I'm not looking for people who want to fill a slot. I really am looking for people and I'm just going to put it this way, even though we're a public school. I'm looking for people that God has called for such a time as this to be a part of this unfolding story, to be able to be more than just yourself, but to really be this person for others. And I know there are teachers out there who've been teaching for five years, 10 years, who've never taught yet. But all of them are people that are just waiting to be called and invited. And I've just invited you. If you want to come, come.


Soren Schwab (CLT):

Wow, what a beautiful way to end this episode and this two-part series. This has been an absolute joy. If you wanna learn more, Clark, tell us, is it cornerstoneschools.org? What's the website to learn more?


clark durant:

Well, should I give you my cell number?


Soren Schwab (CLT):

If you want to share it, absolutely. I'm sure they get a lot of calls.


clark durant:

248-672-0677. There you got it. But we have a cornerstone website, cornerstoneschools.org. My email is Clark Durant, 1936, at gmail.com. 1936 is not my date of birth. It is the date of the death of a great man. His name was Gilbert Keith Chesterton, a poet, an essayist, a journalist. And I honor him because he was a teacher as well and a great writer. So, clarkdurant1936 at gmail.com because this is a personal relationship, it's not just a job.


Soren Schwab (CLT):

Well, I appreciate the work that both of you do. I cannot wait to see Anika, your role with the Cornerstone Schools, and maybe we'll get you back on the year, two years from now, one year, two years from now, and kind of seeing some of that research. Anika, I think


Anika:

Yes,


Soren Schwab (CLT):

part of the challenge too in


Anika:

a year


Soren Schwab (CLT):

our movement


Anika:

ago.


Soren Schwab (CLT):

is quantifying the things that


clark durant:

Thank you.


Soren Schwab (CLT):

are so hard to quantify, because


Anika:

Yes.


Soren Schwab (CLT):

we oftentimes go back to, oh, we'll get test scores. But there's


Anika:

Yes.


Soren Schwab (CLT):

so much more about what classical education does to the hearts, minds, and souls, not just of the individual. but of the community and being able to take a look at that and then sharing your results with us


Anika:

Yes.


Soren Schwab (CLT):

is gonna be a beautiful thing to behold. Anika, Clark, thank you both so much for sharing your story and joining us today at Anchor.


clark durant:

Thank you, Sauron. Our pleasure.