Frequently Asked Questions:
What is a charter school?
Charter schools are public schools, open and accessible to all. Just like any other public school, they are tuition-free and must abide by all state and federal regulations. A charter school's independence allows for innovation, thus allowing parents a choice in how their children are educated. Leaders involved in the founding of a charter school create a charter plan describing the school’s mission, principles, structure and performance measures. In Wisconsin, if an authorizer (either a state-appointed independent authorizer or a school district board) approves the founding group's application, a charter (or contract) between the school and the authorizer is developed, approved and followed. Once the school becomes operational, the state will begin funding the charter school on a per-pupil basis.
What is a classical education?
Classical education is a “getting back to the basics” approach by providing a strong liberal arts foundation — a general knowledge in the four core subjects of literature, history, science and mathematics, as well as attention to performance in art and music. It requires a traditional learning environment using teacher-led instruction and ongoing teacher-student engagement. In addition, classical education provides further depth by teaching students the timeless skills of logic, critical thinking and self-expression.
More than a pattern of learning, classical education is language-focused: learning is accomplished through words — written and spoken — rather than through images. Image-learning allows one’s mind to be passive, whereas language-learning requires one’s mind to work harder resulting in better understanding and retention. For example, when reading the brain is forced to translate a symbol (words on a page) into a concept, which requires more mental muscle. Digital images, such as those in videos or on television, allow the mind to not work nearly as hard. Students who have mastered the English language — grammar and vocabulary, logical reasoning, and persuasive, eloquent speaking and writing — have the requisite tools necessary to study and master any subject they choose. By getting back to the basics, we are truly preparing these students for college and the rest of their lives.
Strong character development is also a cornerstone of classical education. The academic environment at LCCA will reinforce clear expectations of self-discipline, responsibility, and high achievement. Surrounding our students with examples of goodness, truth, and beauty from history and literature will enable them to make good judgments in their own lives. Learning to know, imitate, and seek excellence will enable our students to become productive, responsible and caring citizens who able to function well in a diverse society. By developing an atmosphere of respect, responsibility and compassion, LCCA hopes to be a close-knit community where everyone cares and respects one another, encourages each other and celebrates each others’ successes.
What are the benefits of becoming a BCSI affiliate school?
LCCA has been selected as an affiliate school of the Barney Charter School Initiative (BCSI), an outreach of Hillsdale College. BCSI works as a curricular advisor to 24 existing charter schools throughout the U.S. that are all locally governed. BCSI will provide a complete set of curricular and resource recommendations from Kindergarten through 12th grade and will provide ongoing board and teacher training. We are humbled and honored to be a part of the BCSI family of charter schools, which will provide LCCA with the needed support and guidance in the school founding process and beyond.
What curriculum will LCCA use?
LCCA will adopt a curriculum with a core focus on science, math, English language arts, and history. Second to these four cores, though integral to the curriculum, are the subjects of art, music, and foreign language. In high school, LCCA will also include government, economics, and moral philosophy as classes that are integral complements to the four core areas of study. The basis of the LCCA curriculum is a collaboration between the school and the BCSI.
In K-8, the basis of this curriculum is the Core Knowledge Sequence, prepared by the Core Knowledge Foundation and used widely across the United States for well-over twenty years. Following BCSI recommendations, LCCA will supplement the Core Knowledge Sequence with an intensive phonics program that uses the Orton-Gillingham research on language and cognition that has been developed by Access Literacy, LLC. LCCA will supplement the Core Knowledge Sequence in mathematics by using the Singapore Math curriculum from grades K-7. LCCA will also include instruction in Latin, beginning on a formal basis in 6th grade, preceded by the teaching of Latin and Greek roots in grades 4 and 5. The Well-Ordered Language curriculum will be the basis for formal grammar instruction in the upper elementary grades. In high school, LCCA will follow the BCSI course sequence. This includes four-and-a-half years of history; four years of literature, math, and science; three years of foreign language; one year of composition, and a semester each of government, economics, and moral philosophy.
What instructional strategies will be used at LCCA?
LCCA will use time-tested instructional approaches with proven track records of success. These methods are the cornerstone of classical education and support mastery of the State Standards. These instructional strategies include:
(1) Explicit and Systematic Phonics Instruction: Through the direct teaching of letter-sound relationships through a specified sequence, the foundation for literacy is established and provides students the ability to decode the printed word.
(2) Explicit English Grammar Instruction: Using tools such as diagramming and the study of root words, students will be equipped to speak and write with a high degree of communicative competence. As students learn to identify parts of speech and seek to develop syntax, they are able to communicate more clearly on all levels. The more they learn about the English language and its structure, their ability to easily and fluently express more complex thoughts becomes evident.
(3) Singapore Math: By using a three-step learning process — concrete, pictorial and abstract — students are taught to learn and master fewer mathematical concepts in greater detail. In the concrete step, students use hands-on learning using concrete objects such as bottle caps, dice or pennies. This is followed by having the students draw pictorial representations of these mathematical concepts. Students then use numbers and symbols to solve mathematical problems in an abstract manner.
(4) Ability Groupings in the core subjects of Reading, Writing and Math: To best differentiate instruction, providing individualized supports for all learners while maintaining the same expectations of outcome, ability groupings will allow LCCA to tailor instructional techniques and class time to meet the needs of all students.
(5) Utilization of Primary Source Documents: Primary sources are materials that were created by those who participated in or witnessed the events of the past. They can include letters, reports, photographs, drawings, sound recordings, motion pictures, and artifacts, as well as books. Although sometimes life lessons (e.g., motives, ethics, and “cause and effect”) are not necessarily obvious or easy to define, primary sources can bring them to life. They reflect events and experiences that actually occurred and introduce students to the individuals who lived them.
(6) Teaching of Study Skills: Time management, organizing, memory techniques, note taking, and outlining will be emphasized throughout LCCA and integrated throughout the curriculum to equip students for higher learning. Developing stamina for challenging and complex work is imperative for the promotion of a strong work ethic.
(7) The Socratic Method: The use of direct, intentional questions to guide students’ understanding of problems and their solutions will be a fundamental part of instruction, particularly in literature and history courses.
Why study Latin?
In addition to boosting SAT scores (college-bound seniors who took Latin had a mean score of 685 in critical reading and 682 in writing; data taken from College Board SAT Total Group Report, 2016), Latin provides a a bridge to improving students’ reading, writing, vocabulary and grammar. Latin is the root tongue for 60% of English words (90% of words over two syllables) and 80% of Spanish. Greek and Latin equip a person with the strongest single foundation for mastering the romantic languages of French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish. In addition, a Latin student’s awareness of the ancient cultures of Greece and Rome promotes tolerance and understanding of the different customs and values of other people today.
What role do teachers play in a classical school?
All knowledge and content will be delivered to students through compelling teachers. We want to put the teachers back up on the stage, leading the instruction in the classroom. Teachers will remain the heart of the classroom — not facilitators using so-called “student-centered” or “student-driven” learning methods. This doesn’t mean teachers will just lecture to students — the students will still participate and play an active role in class and small-group discussions. Technology will never take the place of teacher-delivered instruction.
What role do parents play in a classical school?
LCCA will work with and for parents. As a classical school, authority over children will be delegated to us from parents who have enlisted us to help them in their educational task. This means that teachers will serve the parents by listening carefully to their feedback and forge true relationships with parents in order to best understand and educate their children. Parents will be welcome in the classroom, meaning that parents will take their responsibility seriously by reviewing and helping with homework, encouraging their children to be disciplined and diligent, and generally supporting teachers and staff of LCCA. There will also be opportunities for parents to be involved at LCCA through various volunteer opportunities both in and outside of the classroom.
How will technology be utilized in the classroom?
We believe that technology should be regarded as a tool — it will never take the place of teacher-led instruction. If helpful, we will favor its use. Where it may be a hindrance, we will avoid it. Use of cell phones will not be permitted during the school day, and this policy will be strictly enforced. Various electronic tools, including student laptops, will be available for use at the discretion of the teacher. We will have a computer lab, and laptops will be utilized for state testing. Each teacher will have a computer, projector, and document camera.
When will enrollment for LCCA begin, and who can apply?
As an independent (2r), public, tuition-free charter school, enrollment will be open to all students. In early fall 2020, LCCA will communicate open registration dates on its website, in community papers, social media and in its monthly e-newsletter. Families will be invited to attend one of several parent information meetings in October 2020 to meet with staff and learn additional details about LCCA. There will be several enrollment periods, beginning in late fall of 2020. Depending on the demand/interest, a lottery system may be used for new applicants. Students not selected in the lottery will be placed on a waiting list.
Will LCCA admit students who are receiving special education services?
Yes. As a public school we will accept ALL students. Our Student Services department will provide assistance to those with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), English Language Learners, and students who are significantly behind grade level. Classroom teachers and student services staff will collaborate to ensure that students remain in the general classroom as much as possible with minimal alterations to the curriculum.
Where will LCCA be located?
We are currently searching for a potential school location. Our plan is to secure and renovate an existing space or build a new school in the northwestern corner of Waukesha County, also known as Lake Country.
Is LCCA a private religious school?
No. LCCA is a public school. As such, it would be illegal to have religious identity or a religious mission. As with all public schools, world religions are taught only in the context of history and literature. Our aim is to inform, not to proselytize.
Will LCCA offer transportation?
No. Unlike conventional public schools, charter schools do not receive money through local property taxes for facilities or transportation. Parents are encouraged to form carpools to help ensure an efficient carline.
Will LCCA require uniforms?
Yes. In order to foster an atmosphere of respect and minimize distraction, students will be required to wear uniforms. Studies have reaffirmed what we already know to be true — that uniforms are conducive to a good learning environment. The school will make every effort to provide assistance to families in need.
For any other questions, please email us at LakeCountryClassical@gmail.com.