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Latin Under Attack in TEXAS!

I never thought it would happen. Never thought I’d see the day that Latin would so openly come under attack in Austin, Texas. We are blessed to have here the University of Texas Classics Dept, the largest and best classics dept. in the nation. The department is internationally renowned and has a phenomenal faculty who love to support Latin in the secondary schools. Latin has for many years been the second most popular foreign language study in Texas, second only to Spanish. When I was in school, every Austin middle and high school had a Latin program. The middle school programs have dwindled largely due to a lack of teachers to sustain them, but the high school programs have remained strong. Until today. This week Austin Independent School District administrators decided to cut the Latin programs at three major high schools: Austin H.S., Bowie H.S., and the Liberal Arts and Science Academy (known as LASA). The programs at these schools were large in student number with only one teacher overseeing each one. These were vibrant programs. The LASA Latin Club has in fact won the Latin Club of the year contest at the state Junior Classical League convention four years running. I understand that the economy is tight and that cut backs are necessary. But do we really cut a successful program whose numbers do not justify such a cut? Our nation’s educational system is struggling. Our students are performing poorly compared to their peers world wide in literacy, in science, and in math. Does it make sense to cut a course that has been proven time and again to increase verbal and problem solving skills? Does it make sense to cut a course in the very language of science? Keep in mind that it is not a requirement that we are taking away, but even the option. Students in public school often have no choice on what school they attend. Many cannot afford to choose a private school or home school option. If Latin is not offered, it is a lost opportunity.

If you live in Texas, I encourage you to write to our AISD superintendent and the principals of these schools (contact info provided below). I would encourage you to write to our Governor Perry who supposedly believes in Latin’s importance as evidenced by his numerous declarations of Latin Day each April 21, and even more by choosing this as a language for his own son’s education.

Time is of the essence. The final board meeting on this issue is scheduled for Feb. 28, 2011.

Please also consider joining the Facebook Campaign being waged by LASA students. Visit the “Save the LASA Program” FB page.

If you live in another state I would encourage you to look around. Many areas are facing this same battle in times of economic crisis. We have in just two generations gone from a nation who treasured our Latin heritage and the enormous benefits classical education provided, to a society who has decided we just don’t need it anymore. I believe it is a change of course that will have lasting consequences. If this course can change so dramatically in the heart of Texas, in UT’s backyard, it can happen anywhere.

If you are reading this and wondering to yourself, “why in the world is she so passionate about this dead language?” Then I encourage you to visit posts on this site on the value and benefits of classical study. I encourage you to seek out and read about the benefits of classical education. I am sold. And I believe you will be too if you take the time to look.
Here are some great places to start:

The Benefits of a Classical Education

Letters/Phone calls regarding the Latin programs being cut in AISD may be addressed to the following:

Meria Carstarphen
1111 W. 6th Street
Austin, TX 78703
phone: (512) 414-2412
fax: (512) 414-1700

AISD Office Address for All Board Members
1111 West 6th Street
Austin, TX 78703
Fax: 414-1486

Below are school addresses and school Administrators’ names:
Dr. Lucio Calzada
Austin High School
1715 W. Cesar Chavez
Austin, TX 78703
phone: (512) 414-2505
fax: (512) 414-7373

Mr. Stephen Kane
Bowie High School
4103 Slaughter Ln.
Austin, TX 78749
phone: (512) 414-5247
fax: (512) 292-0527

Mr. Scott Lipton
Liberal Arts and Science Academy
7309 Lazy Creek Dr.
Austin, TX 78724
Phone: (512) 414-5272
fax: (512) 414-6050

One Response to “Latin Under Attack in TEXAS!”

  • Karen Moore:

    Good News! As a result of the outcry of students and classicists around Austin and Texas, the Latin program at LASA has been saved (at least for now).

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