Anchored by the Classic Learning Test

Office Hours with Jeremy Tate | Banning Books, The Remedy to America’s Loneliness, and The Breaking News in Florida

September 26, 2023 Classic Learning Test
Anchored by the Classic Learning Test
Office Hours with Jeremy Tate | Banning Books, The Remedy to America’s Loneliness, and The Breaking News in Florida
Show Notes Transcript

On Office Hours with Jeremy Tate, a new segment of the Anchored podcast, Jeremy and Soren dive into the most recent, need-to-know news surrounding the education renewal movement. Tune in to hear about: a school in Canada that was caught removing every library book published before 2008 in the name of inclusivity and equity; an article published by the Heritage Foundation suggesting that classical education could be a remedy to the loneliness epidemic in America; and the Florida Board of Governor's vote to approve the CLT as an accepted admissions test at all state public universities.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (00:01.118)
A school in Canada is caught removing almost every library book published before 2008 in the name of, quote, inclusivity and equity. The Heritage Foundation suggests that classical education could be a remedy to the loneliness epidemic in America. And the Florida Board of Governors votes to approve the classic learning test as an accepted admissions test at all state public universities. This is Office Hours with Jeremy Tate. 

Soren Schwab (CLT) (00:33.302)
Welcome to a very special episode of Anchored. In fact, it is the first episode in a new series that we're calling Office Hours with Jeremy Tate. My name is Noor Sorenschwaab. I'm the vice president here at the Classic Learning Test. And we're gonna bring you the latest news in the educational renewal movement. And I'm here with none other than CLT's CEO and founder, Mr. Jeremy Tate.

Jeremy (00:55.661)
Thorne, I am so pumped about this. We talk about news in the movement, the classical ed movement all the time together.

And I think at some point we just had this idea, like what if we just kind of make this a 10 minute, 15 minute kind of news feature every week. So thrilled to be getting started with this, brother.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (01:12.89)
I love it. I love it. Sometimes, you know, late night conversations after 10 minutes, we should have recorded this. So here we are recording this. Top story here, we're talking about banning books, not a new thing per se, but this one is interesting. So this library in a public school district in Canada is not just removing books, but particularly books published in or before 2008 around kind of their new equity-based process.

Jeremy (01:19.915)
That's right.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (01:42.198)
So they're calling it weeding out books. Seems a little strange, doesn't it?

Jeremy (01:48.339)
So, and this is straight up like Babylon Beak. I mean, can you make this up? Anything just before 2008 is going to get the job, this arbitrary date. I guess they want to make sure that everything the kids are saying came about during their own lifetime.

and that they're not gonna have any connection to the thousands of years of history before that. It's absolutely insane.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (02:10.498)
So essentially goodbye classics, goodbye anything that kind of what Hirsch would call cultural literacy, right? It's all kind of out the door.

Jeremy (02:20.972)
Sure, and I think it underestimates students and you may have experienced this in the classroom, but when you're showing students, hey, this book just came out, brand new, super relevant, we think that has a big impact on students, but they know it's gonna be irrelevant in another two or three years as well, versus if you share with them the Odyssey and you say, hey, for...

more than 2,000 years, this book, this story has been passed down and now it's your turn. That dignifies a student. It draws them into something bigger than themselves.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (02:49.262)
Yeah, yeah, I struggle a little bit too, Jeremy, with like, just even using banning, the banning of books. You know, when you go to Barnes & Noble, there's like the banned book section where you can literally purchase the banned books. But a lot of it is about, you know, removing. So sometimes not even what we've put in, but actually what we're removing from what we don't want our students to read. And it seems a little asinine to heavily scrutinize books written before 2008.

You would think it's the opposite, right? Hey, this book just came out. We don't really know if it's gonna, so maybe we should scrutinize it, but that's fine, right? But the old stuff, we gotta scrutinize, like make it make sense.

Jeremy (03:23.36)

Jeremy (03:29.191)
I sort of, I'd be interested in your take on this. Can it have the opposite impact though, potentially? I mean, when they have banned books historically, you think of like Catcher in the Rye, it actually kind of added some, like this is dangerous. The new university in Austin, Pano Canoles' new college, they have a summer program just on banned books. Young people are kind of drawn to this. What do you think?

Soren Schwab (CLT) (03:52.462)
I would think so. And I think when I talk to Barnes and Noble, that's the appeal, right? It's like this forbidden fruit that we want to taste, right? Why was this book at some point banned, or why was it at least deemed controversial? And I think I'm OK with that, right? And I think we have to look at age appropriateness. There are a lot of books that should not be banned, but maybe should also not be in the grammar school reading section of the library, right?

You know, when you talk about things that are happening in Florida, so much about it, it's not about canceling books or banning books, it's about when is the appropriate time to read a certain book. I think that I can get behind, but just to say, oh, this was written before 2008, we should probably chop it, right? Seems a bit off. Yeah. Oh, well. Let's get to our second story. And this article came across my desk. I absolutely love it. Rachel Kamber, Heritage Foundation.

Jeremy (04:37.997)

Soren Schwab (CLT) (04:50.41)
The title is Classical Education's Remedy for America's Loneliness Epidemic. She calls it an epidemic. And so a little bit of context, but you know this because we both read Ben Sasse's The Vanishing of the American Adult, is that in-person social engagement has been decreasing across all age groups. And the average number of close friends that Americans have gets smaller and smaller every year. And then she makes the case that classical education

could be a remedy to that. Knowing what you know about the classical renewal movement, what do you think of that?

Jeremy (05:26.515)
Yeah, you know, I was so thrilled to see this article and a huge shout out to Heritage. Heritage is on offense, as Dr. Kevin Roberts, the president there, puts it. Absolutely. I mean, we witnessed a record, all-time record, of suicides in America in 2022. The numbers just came out and it beat the old record by over 5%, more than 50,000. And we know there's a direct correlation between screen time.

and severe depression, anxiety, and even suicide as well. Actually, every hour I saw increases the likelihood by 9%. We're talking about average screen time for young people now about eight hours per day. And this older form of education, which removes students from screens, draws them into discussion about the things that matter most. It creates real friendship. I think Heritage was right on the money with this.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (06:18.554)
And I keep on thinking about the difference between being alone and being lonely. And you can be surrounded by... I mean, we constantly feel like we are connected, right? But so many people are lonely because they lack those deeper relationships. And I wonder, you know, my experience in the charter school...

And I know a lot of folks in the classical schools, there is not this over emphasis on just the practicality of things. You just got to take these AP classes to get this number, to get this piece of paper, to go to this school. So much about it now is just about that. Well, as Lewis said, friendship is kind of unnecessary when you think of it in these practical terms. Well, are we sending the wrong signals to the next generation? Friendship is a lot of work too. Is it worth it?

Jeremy (06:54.809)

Jeremy (07:12.903)
Yeah, and you know, you two are probably...

far more schools than I have, but I think there's something really special about the relationships between faculty. And this has an impact on the whole school. It has a huge impact on the students. When the faculty are close, when they have a community that spills over into the life and culture of the school as a whole, and this is born out of a common love, right? And so when they have this shared love for the great books, for these great texts, for this education that's built around the formation of the whole human person,

I think about these schools and I feel like I tour them and you just see genuine friendships among the administration, among the parents. I mean, a place like Veritas, where we've all been and visited, it's a community that Keith Nix is building down there. It's not just a school, it's a whole community. I was so encouraged to see this article.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (08:04.598)
Yeah, it makes a big difference for sure. Well, the last story here, and I cautioning our listeners here, not every episode is going to be like self-promotional CLT, but if we're talking about educational news, this one is a big one. And of course, we're talking about the recent decision by the Board of Governors in Florida to accept CLT as an admissions test for all 12 major Florida universities. And thereby, for the first time,

breaking up the duopoly of ACT-SAT. It's been around since the 50s, the ACT since the 50s, SAT even longer. So I'm sure a lot of our listeners heard about, you know, CLT and the big news in Florida, but I'm sure they're interested in a little bit of behind the scenes about these last few months, Jeremy. So to share a little bit with us, just kind of what transpired and some of the larger impact there.

Jeremy (08:52.334)

Jeremy (08:58.06)
Very, yeah, and sort of, it'd be hard to kind of remove how personal this is for all of us here in the office, in Annapolis. I mean, it'd be difficult to put into words what a kind of big deal this is. I mean, this is the university system. They've got two in the top 20, I think maybe the only state that's got two, both the University of Florida now at number four, US News and World Report. And we can debate these on another episode, the value of US News and World Report.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (09:23.338)
Yeah, please.

Jeremy (09:24.723)
Florida State though at number 20.

an incredible system managed by a board of governors that is very, very focused on educational excellence. And this is what I thought was so exciting about CLT and the way they viewed CLT is wanting to be a state that establishes a high standard for academic excellence. And CLT is another way to get there. And these are not test optional colleges. Every student in Florida to qualify for Bright Futures and graduation requirements are using these tests.

As you've described it before, these tests are often detours from if you're Naples classical or true north in Florida, these are big detours that are not familiar. They're doing the weird common core math. I think this is a big win, not just for CLT, of course, but I think for the students at these great schools in Florida.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (10:16.422)
Oh, that's well put. Yeah. I mean, it's really for the students, for the parents. The word I often hear is compromise that they feel like so often we kind of have to compromise on. Maybe I have to stop teaching to prepare for the test or we have to even teach things that we don't really believe in. And so I think this is a big win for school reform, for school choice, for educational freedom. Because ultimately, when you think about it, Jeremy, we can talk about school choice, right? And if you have the choice to be a...

a Treasure Coast Classical, right? You have this beautiful curriculum, you have a chance to hire these amazing teachers, but you're still validate, you have to validate yourself based on scores on a test that is fundamentally disconnected from your educational principles, from your curriculum, right? It's like, something's not quite right. Are we truly free in that? And so I think that is the barrier that this decision has removed. That doesn't mean that every school in Florida is all of a sudden doing CLT, but the ones that are missionally aligned and that feel like, hey, this is a better reflection are now able to do that

Jeremy (10:55.909)

Soren Schwab (CLT) (11:13.77)
without compromising. I think that's a big, big win for everyone, not just for CLT.

Jeremy (11:17.984)
Yeah, yeah. And the media coverage with this soared, I mean, for us, it's kind of blown our mind. I mean, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Inside Higher Ed, Chronicle of Higher Ed, on and on and on.

And we've seen that some of these articles, it's very clear who does their homework and who doesn't. You've had the haters wanting to just simplify this and this is a DeSantis, Christian nationalism kind of a test. But I think even the folks, people like even New York Times, Dana Goldstein. What was the other one that came out, the very left publication Soarin'?

Soren Schwab (CLT) (11:53.715)
Oh, Mother, Mother Jones.

Jeremy (11:55.059)
Yeah, even Mother Jones, you know, Kiara Butler did her homework there and thought, wow, this is a kind of education that is focused on cultivating wonder, cultivating curiosity, helping students to learn to be patient and generous and kind. Who doesn't want this kind of education? And so it's a fun moment. I mean, I think we're right now living through kind of a tipping point of classical ed, and it's incredible that CLT gets to be a part of that.

Soren Schwab (CLT) (12:21.922)
And in a way, we're kind of at the nexus of a lot of this. I think that's why this Office Hour with Jeremy Tate is gonna be a smashing success because we hear about a lot what's going on in this space and really wanna share this with our wonderful audience. And so before we log off for the day here, Jeremy, give our reader recommendation. What are you currently reading? What do you recommend to them?

Jeremy (12:44.486)
Yes. All right, so I am currently reading, I believe it's Isaac Watson's new biography on Elon Musk. And talk about the way literature impacts a young child. And Elon talks about being blessed to grow up kind of before the internet age. Here's a guy who created PayPal,

Jeremy (13:07.957)
and he's reading the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He's reading the Lord of the Rings over and over. His imagination is being shaped by these great books. And for better or worse, I know there's a lot of Elon fans and Elon haters out there, but in terms of this kind of education, really catapulting a young person into a successful future, it's a good, I think, testimony to that. And also just the way that we're living through a wild disruption right now,

education but across all these different sectors so I would highly recommend it. So what are you what are you reading?

Soren Schwab (CLT) (13:44.13)
You know, I placed it on hold. I'm like number 77 in the library. So maybe I do have to go ahead and buy it. I just finished Great Expectations, Charles Dickens. And I had to humble myself. I've always been an American lit guy. And so, Dickens, why do I need Reed Dickens? But I think the longer I'm around people here at CLT and just the amazing they are, like, hmm.

Jeremy (13:56.587)
Okay, okay.

Jeremy (14:04.744)

Soren Schwab (CLT) (14:11.97)
think in Chester to Democracy of the Dead, right? They're much smarter people that came before me that have deemed Dickens a great white writer. If I don't like Dickens, that's a problem with me, not with Dickens, right? And so I picked it back up, it was just blown away. And so through everyone who maybe read it the first time and wasn't a big fan, it's worth picking up a second. It is great.

Jeremy (14:26.803)
What? OK.

Jeremy (14:32.584)
Between Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities, if you had to recommend one, what is it going to be?

Soren Schwab (CLT) (14:37.066)
Yeah, I think if you're struggling to get into Dickens, start with Tale of Two Cities. It's a bit more accessible and a bit shorter. But I think if I had to pick one as the greater book, I would say Great Expectations.

Wonderful. Well, this was a great first episode, Jeremy, to our audience. If you see stories, newspaper articles around education that you would like Jeremy and me to discuss, send us an email, anchored at We'd be sure to cover it. Jeremy Tate, thank you so much for joining today.

Jeremy (15:12.452)
Doren, thanks for being on.