A growing number of families are enrolling their children in schools that provide classical education. We need a way to identify schools that use a content-rich curriculum, but the “classical” label may be too slippery—and too co-opted by political conservatives—to provide it.
A spate of articles over the past year have noted a surge of interest in classical schools. A study conducted in Texas found that a disproportionate number of students who left traditional public schools for the charter sector were going to classical schools, with several thousand on waitlists. An article in the National Review identified this as a national trend, with networks of classical schools expanding and unaffiliated classical schools “popping up across the country in response to local demand.”
Most recently, the state of Florida announced that its university system would now accept an alternative to the SAT and ACT—the CLT, or Classical Learning Test, which is generally aligned to the kind of curriculum used in classical schools.
What kind of curriculum is that? Generally—and we can only speak generally, because there’s no single defined classical curriculum—it relies on the study of “great books” from the Western tradition. For example, the CLT uses passages from authors like...