a train station sign that says "Harvard"

Harvard’s Dilemma

By Robert Bortins

In a society where bad ideas have infiltrated even our most prestigious universities, it is essential that we stand up for truth in thought and excellence in education. 

Former Harvard President Claudine Gay resigned due to significant public pressure after she failed to condemn antisemitic speech on campus and was discovered to have committed many acts of plagiarism throughout her professional career. Sadly, the corruption at Harvard will outlive Gay’s presidency as the school continues to promote critical theory and DIE initiatives. 

In Episode 78 of ‘Refining Rhetoric,’ I explore the implications of woke hiring and firing, low academic standards, and a godless worldview at our universities and throughout our broader culture. Also, I highlight the important role Christians have in speaking out against these dangerous ideas while holding fast to Biblical truth and excellence. 

This podcast originally aired on Jan. 10, 2024. Check out other freedom-loving episodes of Refining Rhetoric.

Robert Bortins is the CEO of Classical Conversations® and the host of Refining RhetoricThe company has grown from supporting homeschoolers in about 40 states to supporting homeschoolers in over 50 countries and has become the world’s largest classical homeschooling organization under his guidance.

a boy concentrates on his homework, studying the design of airplanes

What are Our Schools “Really” Teaching?

By Jennifer Bright

As contentious school board meetings were publicized in Virginia, I pondered about what was happening in my local area and what the schools were ‘really’ teaching. I started watching my local board meetings online to see the hot topics like library books, new curricula, charter schools, etc. For background, my community is one of the wealthier, conservative parishes with some of the best public schools. With the top schools, my area also has the largest number of homeschoolers in the state.

In addition to this, I wasn’t surprised to see inconspicuous, redefined language regarding social-emotional learning in the curriculum. So, I took a closer look at a few curriculum companies that my local school district uses:

Amplify Science

In early 2023, the local school board adopted a new science curriculum, Amplify Science. I did a quick search online to learn more about the company. From their website:

“Our goal is to make education, and thereby the world, more equitable and accessible… To do this, we hire and develop people with the broadest range of talents, life stories and experiences, and together we build a diverse and inclusive culture”.1

There are a few words that stick out: equitable, accessible, diverse, and inclusive. This is, on the surface DEI curriculum.

FranklinCovey Company: Leader in Me

Another curriculum company adopted this year by my local public schools is Leader in Me by the FranklinCovey company. Here is what the company says about itself:

“Inclusion is a core value at FranklinCovey. We know that building an inclusive work culture in which everyone is valued and respected contributes to our success. Our content and solutions encourage inclusion and embracing and celebrating different backgrounds, perspectives, and identities.

As a company, we prohibit discrimination as it relates to race, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, education, disability status, socioeconomic status, religion, or any other characteristic… We are committed to serving our customers with respect and helping them improve their individual, team, and organizational performance to achieve extraordinary results and lasting change.” 2… FranklinCovey works with clients every day to steward diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives bolstered by our learning programs… Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are in strong alignment with FranklinCovey’s core mission and values.”3

Do we not see those same words of diversity, inclusion, and equity (DEI) here as well? And the FranklinCovey company is committed to stewarding DEI in its learning programs, like Leader in Me.4

FranklinCovey company is very clear that they are proudly proclaiming DEI, CRT, and the alphabet mess.

Great Minds: Eureka Math

As a final test case, a popular math curriculum used by many schools around the country, as well as in my local public schools, is Eureka Math2; This math program states in its overview, “designed to advance equity in the math classroom.”5

In the Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 press release from Great Minds, they share “how its math and English language arts curricula integrate social and emotional learning into their core instruction.”

“Eureka Math® (PK–12) and Wit & Wisdom® (K–8) each foster the development of the five core competencies from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL): self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. The analyses explain how each curriculum aligns with the competencies and research, showing why the competencies are important to student development and academic learning.”6

This company was not as easy to identify if they were using CRT or committed to DEI. It is like a blip on a radar screen that is warning us that something is coming but not sure if it is a friend or foe. So, as a classically educated person, let’s define the terms:

What is Social Emotional Learning?

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) “is a systemic approach that emphasizes the importance of establishing equitable learning environments and coordinating practices across key settings of classrooms, schools, families, and communities to enhance all students’ social, emotional, and academic learning.”7

“Inequities based on race, ethnicity, class, language, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other factors are deeply ingrained in the vast majority of these systems and impact student and adult social, emotional, and academic learning. While SEL alone will not solve longstanding and deep-seated inequities in the education system, it can create the conditions needed for individuals and schools to examine and interrupt inequitable policies and practices, create more inclusive learning environments, and reveal and nurture the interests and assets of all individuals.”8

Is SEL a Trojan Horse for Critical Race Theory?

From a 2021 article, the Washington Examiner said social-emotional learning is a “Trojan horse” for both critical race theory and transgender advocacy being introduced and propagated in public schools. It is also being referred to as a “new variant of the “CRT-virus,” and “SEL education pipeline.”

Critical Race Theory (CRT) has evolved into a Social and Emotional Learning curriculum (SEL) known as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).  This has crept into our public school systems through its school curricula via teacher training programs. Words like “equity,” “social justice,” “diversity and inclusion,” and “culturally responsive teaching” sound harmless and pleasing, but their actual definitions are different than what they commonly mean.9

My local school district banned Critical Race theory from being taught in public schools. I am not so sure. So what are your local schools ‘really’ teaching?

Engage and Educate

We can’t just do internet searches on DEI and CRT and expect to find everything anymore. The enemy always appears as an angel of light, shifting its language to accomplish its goals. This is just scratching the surface of the cultural battle raging around us. Parents, we need to be sober and attentive to what curriculum providers are promoting. Do they align with our Christian values and beliefs?

We need to engage the culture, stand firm, and choose to educate in the Truth!

Classical Conversations has created a new math curriculum that is classical in pedagogy, with a Christian worldview, to teach and disciple our children in the Truth.  Check it out!

To learn more about the difference between equality and equity, read our recent blog.

Jennifer Bright is the Communication Manager for Research and Quality Assurance for Classical Conversations. Jennifer’s passions are classical Christian education and discipling the next generation to live for Christ. She supports homeschool families by tutoring their students with the classical tools of learning. Jennifer and her husband began their homeschool journey almost 20 years ago in Russia while serving as missionaries, and currently, they reside in Covington, Louisiana.

  1. DEIA Statement”. Amplify. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  2. Commitment to Diversity”. Franklin Covey. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  3. Commitment to Diversity”. Franklin Covey. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  4. Commitment to Diversity”. Franklin Covey. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  5. Eureka Math Squared”. Great Minds. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  6. Colby, Chad. “Great Minds Curricula Integrate Social Emotional Learning with Instruction”. Great Minds. October 4, 2019. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  7. Fundamentals of SEL—What is the Casel Framework”. CASEL. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  8. Fundamentals of SEL—What is the Casel Framework”. CASEL. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  9. Letter: The Failing Acronyms of CRT DEI and SEL”. Orange Town News. September 28, 2023. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
a window view of a Christmas store, with Christmas trees, wreaths, and presents on display

Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas

By Lauren Gideon

There is something special about childhood. Overlay the beauty and simplicity of childhood with the sacred spectacular atmosphere of the holidays, and that intersection seems nothing short of magical. This wedge, where those two events overlap, is so powerful that grown adults constantly search for ways to replicate that experience and those sentiments. Our song lyrics and storylines are strong indicators of this reality. What changes as we age? Why can’t we always (only) experience that perceived magical atmosphere? Why does everything feel so complicated? 

A few years ago, I was in line at the grocery store, listening to the conversation between the cashier and a customer unfolding in front of me. As the customer prepares to depart, the cashier extends the farewell of “Happy Holidays.” In disgust, the customer replies with a harsh and sharp, “Merry Christmas!” 

Wait. What just happened?

My thoughts started taking inventory. “Did that customer just use a Christmas salutation as retaliation?” In true sports commentary fashion, let’s look at the replay. In this scenario, the cashier was perceived to have been using the “happy holidays” greeting as a way to deny the real “reason for the season.” But was she? Is there anything wrong with “happy holidays”? Was the cashier maliciously trying to cancel Christ? Was the offended customer claiming to be a Christian? The irony of the retort was amusing, to say the least. There was nothing merry about her tone or her intent. And I’m not very confident that Person, whose birth she thought she was defending, would have been pleased by her style. 

However, can we sympathize with both parties? The grown-up world is complicated. We struggle even to greet a stranger this time of year. You see, in addition to the holidays, we have learned there are conflicting worldviews. We have learned that the holders of these worldviews are frequently hostile to holders of other worldviews. As Christians, we know that in this world we will have trouble, but that Christ has overcome the world. (John 16:33) 

How many times have we met Christians who not only go looking for trouble but also for a chance to be this type of “overcomer.” This customer was clearly frustrated; hopefully, her misstep is a cautionary tale to other Christians. Still, we can understand that navigating a bold allegiance to Christ in a world full of people we are called to love is…complicated.  

A Free Society Will Bring Confusion, and That’s a Good Thing

This year, I was told another story about a workplace DEI book club. The week’s topic was how not to talk about Christmas in the workplace. Contrast this with those who insist that we must speak about Christmas all the more because it’s our “first-amendment right.”  

Highlighted here is the deep complexity of the free market, the civil sphere, limited congress, public-policy-governing employers, confusion over the origin of rights, the Constitution, natural law, and the Creator.  

We confuse spheres of governance vs. mechanisms of enforcement and fail to consider the consequences of misunderstanding and misusing these. Additional elements include mechanisms of the free market, obligations of citizens, obligations of consumers, and labor providers in a free market. Each one of these components is an inescapably complicated layer that adds to the weight of responsibility. This makes our simple childhood memories much more precious and explains why grown adults prefer discovering a path back to childhood than navigating a way forward. 

While it seems that Christians’ primary conflict is with those outside the faith, this is evidently false. Is there an answer to all this madness? 

How to Navigate With Romans 14

Romans 14:5-9 gives us a 3-part navigation process.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”

Part One: Be convinced. 

Convinced has nothing to do with opinion. Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines convinced as persuaded in mind; satisfied with evidence; convicted. Being blessed with freedom, both civilly and economically, comes with responsibility. Embrace it, steward it, protect it, and afford it to others. Gather and wrestle through the evidence, and put the evidence on trial until you reach a satisfactory verdict. And then, when new evidence presents itself, rinse and repeat.

Part Two: Be gracious with others. 

They bear the same responsibility, and they also will give an account. We know the stakes are high, and the task is heavy; therefore, we should not complicate what is already sufficiently complicated. If anything, we should model the diligence, sobriety, and reverence we have for this responsibility and the ability to stay out of our neighbor’s figurative courtroom. 

 Part Three: Chill out, be thankful, and live and die for an audience of One. 

The whole passage can be summed up with a single parallel text, Micah 6:8. 

He has told you, O man, what is good;

     and what does the Lord require of you

 but to do justice, and to love kindness,

     and to walk humbly with your God?

So, to my friends near and far who may read this: happy holiday, and Merry Christmas.  

Lauren Gideon is the Director of Public Relations for Classical Conversations. She co-leads and teaches through an organization committed to raising citizenship IQ on U.S. founding documents. She and her husband homeschool their seven children on their small acreage, where they are enjoying their new adventures in homesteading.

paper in a typewriter with the word "equality" printed out

Equality vs Equity

By Elise DeYoung

Today, it is typical for social movements in Western civilization to claim they are fighting for the founding principles of America: liberty, justice, and, most of all, equality for all.

Feminism, that age-old movement, claims that women are inherently oppressed by men. Betty Friedan, in her modern feminist manifesto The Feminine Mystique, makes the case that for women to gain equality with men, they must become empowered, strong, independent girl bosses. Ladies, we’ve all heard this line.

The Pro-Choice movement, through Planned Parenthood, claims to be an agent of equality as they kill unborn children so that women, like their male counterparts, can experience sexual freedom without fear of the consequences. On its website, Planned Parenthood defines itself as “an equal opportunity employer [that] welcomes all qualified applicants, regardless of gender, race, age, sexuality, or disability.”1

The Black Lives Matter movement implores us all to “Join the Movement to fight for Freedom, Liberation and Justice.” “Their vision aims at “achieving liberation” for all minority groups, including (but not exclusive to), “Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, undocumented folks, folks with records, women, and all Black lives along the gender spectrum.”2

Through the rise of the LGBTQ movement, individuals are fighting to protect the rights of so-called “trans-identifying individuals.” These allies of pride celebrate legislation such as the Equality Act, passed by the British Parliament in 2010, as a small step towards ensuring that each individual has the equal right to identify as whatever they want. 

It is clear that many movements today are seeking radical social reforms in the name of “equality.” So, if equality is an American value, shouldn’t we, as conservatives, support these causes?

The answer is a resounding “no.”

Why, you may ask? Even though these movements use the word equality in their messaging, equality is not what they are fighting for. Rather, they are striving for the perverted “equality” of Karl Marx, known today as equity. Understanding the distinctions between these words and how they have been weaponized against America is vital as we seek to conserve our founding values and way of life.

This article will explore the drastic differences between these two values, expose the danger that equity poses to Western society, and provide a greater understanding of why Marxist movements, such as those listed above, must be stopped.

Equality vs Equity

We have all heard it said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This statement must not be underappreciated. Thomas Jefferson established the great American experiment by penning these words in 1776 onto the Declaration of Independence. No society in the history of the world had been founded on words as profound as these. No society in the history of the world has been established on the principle of equality for all.

Equality is the belief, as Jefferson wrote, that all men are created equal. It is not a result of sex, race, social status, wealth, or religion, but it is a truth because God has created all men in Imago Dei.

How often do you hear that message today?

Equality for all has been the bedrock of our great nation for centuries. Systems like capitalism and ideas such as the American Dream have been born out of our strong belief in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This beautiful idea is why the American experiment was, and is, successful.

However, in our modern day, this truth seems to be battered and bruised by radical progressive thought that abuses equality and threatens to blot out Jefferson’s words. Where did this threat come from? How can we put an end to it?

Equity

To discover the origin of this anti-equality ideology, we must examine 19th-century Eastern thought.

Karl Marx officially founded communism in 1848 when he and Friedrich Engles wrote The Communist Manifesto. The political pamphlet combined the thoughts of German revolutionaries into a persuasive and passionate call to action. Marx argued in favor of annihilating capitalism and the class system through a complete revolutionary restructuring of society. However, his ideas did not take root until 1917, when Vladimir Lenin led the first successful communist revolution in Russia. Since then, communism has been tried, and communism has killed many in different countries.

Marx’s ideas have evolved, and his ideology has seeped into Western social trends and economics. Present-day communism upholds equity as its central value in the same way that Americanism upholds equality. Its entire system depends on it.

But what is equity? Equity calls for destroying distinctions to ensure that everyone in a society achieves the same outcome.

What does this look like in practice? It means that distinctions between individuals that may lead to “unequitable” or different outcomes must be abolished. Factors like race, religion, property ownership, sex, class, age, wealth, and health must be eradicated from an equitable society. This is the radical and unavoidable consequence of communism through equity. Thankfully, such extreme measures have not yet been accepted by the West. This does not mean, however, that we cannot see traces of the poison of equity throughout the country.

The Infiltration of Equity

Like a virus, equity seeps into a society unnoticed. Like a virus, you might notice some symptoms at first, but you’d never guess the true source of the illness. And just like a virus, equity will eventually make itself known, but by then, it will be too late.

For many years, the ideas of Marx infiltrated the West under the guise of “equality.” We have already seen how many radical leftist movements claim they are fighting for the equality of some minorities. Women, would-be mothers, African Americans, or those who claim to be LGBT or Q are told that they have unequal rights compared to the dreaded straight, white, evangelical man. These movements do not care that there is no American law on the books that discriminates against any minority group or individual. But I digress.

The message to America is that the differences between men and women, “a clump of cells” and babies, white and black people, and those who are straight and gay must be rendered obsolete before “equality” can be ensured. This is not equality, which promises equal opportunity to all; this is equity, which promises equal outcome to all.

Today, the virus of equity is beginning to make itself known in our sick nation. If you are a college student or an employee of a large corporation, you have heard the acronym DEI or, as Jordan B. Peterson refers to it, DIE. DIE stands for diversity, inclusion, and equity. These values have been infused into universities across the United States and the rest of the West. They have been accepted by teachers, bosses, and even our President and are now being promoted as so-called “American values.”

Radical Marxist movements, supported by large masses of college students, have begun to wave these values unashamedly as their banners and shout them as their anthems.

There is no doubt that equity has infiltrated our society and way of life. And just like a virus that cannot help but corrupt its victim, equity, if it is not soon eradicated, will continue to infuse itself into the West until the words of Jefferson are dead and gone.

Equality for All

“We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence.

With this declaration, Jefferson freed a nation. Now, with this same declaration, we must maintain that freedom.

Today, we are urged by the Left to fight against America in the name of America. We must not be fooled! “Equality for all,” as we have seen, is not the aim of these radical leftist movements. What they want is the implementation of Marxism through equity in our free nation.

Is this a sinister and purposeful attack being made by those in power? Or is it merely a misunderstanding born of ignorance? We may never know, but what we can know is that Americans deserve their God-given right to equality. We must recognize this as our battlefront as we seek to conserve our nation’s principles.

Equity and equality are as different as the East is from the West (literally). The two cannot coexist, so one must overcome the other. Which will it be? If we value the words of Jefferson and the American way, we must stand firmly against Marxist movements and stand up for the right to equality, for all.

Elise DeYoung is a Public Relations and Communications Associate and a Classical Conversations graduate. With CC, she strives to know God and make Him known in all aspects of her life. She is a servant of Christ, an avid reader, and a professional nap-taker. As she continues her journey towards the Celestial City, she is determined to gain wisdom and understanding wherever it can be found. Soli Deo gloria!


  1. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us ↩︎
  2. https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/ ↩︎