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March Madness in York, Pennsylvania

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The term “March Madness’ often evokes thoughts of Cinderella storied basketball teams that beat the odds to make a successful run at glory, along with shining moments that completely change the dynamic felt by all the players involved.

But these principles can easily be applied to the developments of New Hope Academy in York, PA, when a recent school board meeting provided a moment more shocking than when the 14th seed Mercer upset number 2 Duke.

In what can only be described as a gutless move, the York County School Board motioned for police to escort New Hope performing arts director Cal Weary out, after refusing to acknowledge Weary because he apparently didn’t sign in to be recognized. So naturally, this somehow warranted police intervention.

“What I would have said to them is this — we are all part of the same community. All we want is fair representation,” Weary said following the meeting. “We’re asking for a seat at the table.” There’s a certain sadness to the silencing of the only side of the table calling for compromise and dialogue.

After refusing to hear from New Hope supporters throughout the meeting, Board member Margie Orr also refused to hear from students, claiming the Board is solely accountable to “taxpayers.” The revealing mindset that school officials aren’t accountable to the students they serve is nothing short of astonishing and appalling.

Since last year, New Hope has been embroiled in a fight to keep its school doors open in the face of local adversity, all the while boasting achievement data that shows remarkable gains posted by students coming from the traditional school setting.

The courts of Pennsylvania will now decide New Hope’s fate, and hopefully there’s room for one more Cinderella Story to beat the odds and show that they belong. New Hope

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The new, new SAT – Path to Obscurity?

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The College Board has once again made changes to the SAT, reducing writing and vocabulary expectations that negatively affect the exam’s rigor. The latest installment in the over two decade-long struggle to implement what always appear to be well-intentioned modifications, is nothing short of the SAT’s battle to avoid obscurity.

This is just another instance when student outcomes are not the impetus behind changes. And each change has brought about more confusion, and frankly, lower expectations being set for our children. Who could forget the “contentless writing” debates of 2005.

Lagging test scores on the SAT were no different in 2001 than they are today. The real issue at stake is whether or not children are learning and whether we’ve set expectations so low (eliminating “obscure words”) for them that they themselves are on a path to obscurity.

Kara Kerwin
President, The Center for Education Reform


The Renaissance Kids: First Fridays Washington Latin School Visit

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A Renaissance man is defined as someone who has expertise in a number of different subject areas and uses that knowledge in order to problem-solve. The faculty and teachers at the Washington Latin School are molding the next generation of Renaissance men; but since this is the 21st century and more than just men can master many different areas of academia, I shall call these students “The Renaissance Kids”.

Washington Latin School, located at 5200 2nd St., NW, offers a classical education curriculum to an extremely diverse population of students.  From 5th to 8th grade, all students study Latin. By 9th grade, the students begin to take another language, French, Arabic or Chinese. The students learn through drill and memorization and are taught to be fluid writers. They have Socratic seminars, which involve the study of public speaking and debate. They study dance and drama and are required to play sports.

It was amazing seeing the Renaissance kids in action. We visited a 6th grade history class, where they were learning how to pass a bill in the American political system. They already knew that it started in the House, moved the Senate, went to the desk of the President and even the role the Supreme Court played. They were asking questions about Executive Order; something I did not fully understand until my freshman year of college. They were extremely engaged and the teacher used Lego animated figures in his PowerPoint. In a 9th grade Chinese 1 class, the teacher only spoke Chinese and they recited their vocabulary words with precision, while at the same time having fun with a game of Simon Says.

As I saw the Renaissance Kids in the hallway, they were happy, greeting their teachers with respect yet with a sense of familiarity. The teachers care and that

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