Document: RPA Instructional Program
1. What exactly is classical education?
A classical education is based on time tested methods which have been used for centuries and have produced many of the greatest minds in history, including our founding fathers. Grammar, logic and rhetoric are key components of a classical education. The aim of a classical education is to give children the basic tools of learning. As they learn a fundamental knowledge of Latin, for example, they will gain the linguistic foundation necessary to learn most European languages, including a powerful grasp of the English language. As they learn the basics of grammar and rhetoric, they learn what it takes to acquire a deep knowledge of any subject as well as knowledge of how to communicate what they know to others. A classically educated child can go on to excel in the rest of their life because they have attained the keys to knowledge. A classical education is a benefit to any child. Classical education gives the keys of knowledge to everyone, regardless of background and class. A classically educated child knows how to unlock the doors of society.
2. How is it different from “regular” education?
The classical method takes a focused approach toward the tools of learning and emphasizes mastery of the building blocks of education, such as mathematics, proper grammar, and writing skills. Separate “subjects” such as the formal study of literature and history are introduced when the student has mastered the tools needed to properly process higher level information. A classical approach insists on having a firm understanding of language and a thorough ability to express oneself and to evaluate the expressions of others.
3. Why Latin?
More than half of all English words are derived from Latin; therefore the study of Latin builds and enhances English vocabulary. Latin teaches grammar more effectively than any English curriculum and provides excellent preparation for the study of foreign languages. Students of Latin have a much larger vocabulary than their peers and surpass their peers in SAT scores. Latin trains students in valuable mental habits such as memory, order, and attention to detail. Up until recently, Latin was a required course of study. Its significance is still evident today. Latin provides valuable preparation for higher level education and careers in such areas as the legal, scientific, and medical fields.
4. Is a classical education rigid and harsh?
Children enjoy learning. They are wired for it. Assuming that a child will not be able to succeed in a challenging environment is tempting, but simply not true. A common assumption is that a demanding curriculum results in unhappy children. However, most children thrive in a demanding yet nurturing environment. The excitement of children learning Latin grows as they become able to describe their world in a language many adults do not understand. Science and the history of Western Civilization comes alive for those who are encouraged to delve deeply into this subject. Literature becomes exciting as students see the beauty and relevance of excellence in the written word. Classical schools maintain order in the classroom. This does not translate to stoic, rigid classes. In fact, Renaissance Public Academy encourages extensive interaction between students and teachers. Students are not allowed to be disruptive, but they are constantly encouraged to offer observations, ask questions, interact, and make comments. The classical method encourages and succeeds at creating a stimulating and enjoyable learning environment for students.
5. Why a Uniform Dress Code?
A “uniform” Dress Code encourages a desirable learning environment and helps limit distractions in the classroom. When students are required to wear uniforms, productivity is increased and students feel a sense of belonging. Uniforms minimize peer pressure. Instead of clothing indicating status, class, or social standing, it becomes a unifying element and reinforces an academic atmosphere. (“Manual on School Uniforms,” U.S. Department of Education).
6. What is the purpose of charter school legislation (ORS chapter 338)?
In May of 1999, Oregon Public Charter School Legislation was passed to encourage the creation of flexible and innovative ways of educating students within the public school system.
7. What is a charter school?
Charter schools are publicly funded, independent schools of choice. Charter schools are founded by citizens, are focused on a specific philosophy and are mission driven.
8. Can anyone go to a charter school?
Yes. Any student may attend a charter school in any district. Homeschoolers are welcome to continue or supplement their education at a charter school, and those who prefer a private school education but have financial limitations may find that a charter school is an excellent option.
9. Do public charter school teachers and administrators need to be licensed by TSPC?
Fifty percent of the total FTE (full time equivalent) must be certified teachers and/or administrators. The other fifty percent must also be registered by TSPC. The staffing situation of each charter school may be dependent upon what entity acts as employer. Renaissance Public Academy will have teachers that are not only highly qualified, but are experts in their fields, and are passionate about education.
10. Are public charter schools expected to provide special educational services?
Yes, special education services must be provided and will be specifically agreed upon in the charter agreement. An IEP may be rewritten to reflect the new educational environment, but this must be mutually agreed upon by the IEP team. At Renaissance, we believe that every student at every level can benefit from our methods, and that every student has the ability to excel.