Charter Application

In the spring of 2010 two mothers of preschoolers met while volunteering in their sons’ preschool. Both women had been researching schools to determine the right fit for their children. It became explicitly clear that a classical education best met their needs and goals.

Sadly, neither of their sons was able to win a seat in the lottery at the classical school of their choice. They soon learned that hundreds of children were on the waiting list, and hundreds more were on charter school waiting lists in Northern Colorado. Their desire and passion for a classical school program for their children grew to include wanting to create more classical education options for all the children in their community. Thus began the journey to create Loveland Classical Schools.

A Founders team quickly formed, and they agreed that a classical education was the means by which high standards would be achieved. Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise in "A Well-Trained Mind," define a classical education: "It is language-intensive—not image-focused. It demands that students use and understand words, not video images. It is history-intensive, providing students with a comprehensive view of human endeavor from the beginning until now. It trains the mind to analyze and draw conclusions. It demands self-discipline. It produces literate, curious, intelligent students who have a wide range of interests and the ability to follow up on them."

The LCS Founding Members believe that this content-rich approach provides the kind of stimulation and challenge that encourages an excitement and love for learning. In order to broaden the educational program, LCS will also include the Core Knowledge sequence for grades K-8, and build upon that foundation for grades 9-12.

Together, LCS’ vision and mission express a firm commitment to provide all students the opportunity to create a better life for themselves and their community. This American Dream will be implemented by a faculty and a principal, who understand the classical and the American ideals that govern LCS.

To accomplish this task, LCS will utilize a classical approach that is based on the educational paradigm of the trivium, which holds that every discipline has a grammar that needs to be explicitly taught by the teacher to the students; that the grammar is followed by the logical testing of the studied material, and that ultimately leads to rhetorical mastery in each discipline. In addition to this academic element of education, the classical approach also stresses the personal character and civic responsibility of each student. Classical education derives its curriculum from seminal events and great works of the tradition, which it inherits.

A classical education takes a traditional, common sense approach to what schools should do: They should try to improve their students’ knowledge and character. Following the model of the trivium (three ways) classical education begins with teaching students the grammar of each subject. In history students need to know dates and facts before they can think critically about them. In biology, they have to understand the basic facts of life before they can investigate how life works. (This emphasis on the primacy of knowledge is also found in E.D. Hirsch’s Core Knowledge Sequence.) When the students know the grammar of a subject they will be ready to ask many questions (because they are naturally curious human beings). This questioning defines the logic stage of the trivium and it naturally follows, and is even a part of, the acquisition of grammatical knowledge. Finally students will want to define where they stand vis-à-vis the learned and questioned materials: Thus they enter the rhetoric stage in which they make an argument about the logically tested grammar of each subject. In short, teachers in the classical education tradition simply begin by teaching knowledge, then lead the students to ask questions about what they now know, and ultimately help them to express their own thoughts about what they have learned. LCS teaches students to think, not just to know.

In addition to improving its students’ intelligence, classical education understands that students are always part of a community: in the classroom, the family, the local community, the nation, and even an entire civilization. As members of these communities, students have to understand their duties to others and their responsibility for a society that they did not create but inherited. It is the explicit goal of a classical education to cultivate the students’ private character as well as their public character. A classical education attempts to strengthen the private and public character of students by creating a school culture that embraces virtue as a means to happiness and that emphasizes the importance of belonging to a larger community, always beginning with the classroom and leading up to an entire civilization.

LCS will establish a school culture that focuses teachers, students, and parents on the importance of knowledge and the civilized discussions about it, creating an environment of thinkers and learners. LCS is also unique to the Thompson School District, as no other school in the area focuses on a classical education. On a practical level, LCS will be guided by an outside classical school consultant, which has already successfully implemented the curriculum and school culture that LCS will establish. Thus, LCS can follow an existing model and the LCS Principal and teachers can be coached by an existing classical Principal and teachers as they build a new school in Loveland.

LCS believes that its classical/liberal arts model can gain the support of broad demographic groups in the Loveland/Berthoud area. At the heart of our educational model is a belief that all students need to be equipped with the cultural literacy and moral foundations to become productive and contributing citizens to our country’s constitutional republic. We believe this educational model is something that is attractive to individuals across all races, ethnic groups, and socio-economic classes. This is relevant in the Loveland/Berthoud area based on current demographic figures.

Current data gathered from the Thompson School District indicates that of the more than 15,000 students in the district, 80.4% are White, 15.6% are Hispanic, 1.8% are Asian, and 1.3% are African-American. The data also indicate that approximately 26.2% of the population is eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch.

LCS welcomes all students, and intends to serve the Thompson School District and students from contiguous school districts. Several homeschooling, private school, and students attending schools in other school districts have committed to enroll at LCS—bringing in more students to the Thompson School District. (See Evidence of Support and Appendix A: Letters of Support) There are hundreds of children on the charter school waiting list in the Loveland area. At the time this document was created our Founding Members had tallied over 2,800 students on charter school waiting lists at three charters within Loveland and Fort Collins. The demand for charter schools, schools of choice, and alternative educational options continues to rise.

The Thompson School District currently has one K-8 Core Knowledge charter school, whose students are looking for a high school that continues an education in the traditional liberal arts. LCS will be able to meet this need. Many students leave traditional school districts to choose a classical education or another option. LCS provides an opportunity to bring these families back to our district, and to also reach out beyond our district borders for potential new students.

LCS will be led by a team of committed community members and parents. Our initial board will be appointed by our Founders, as well as include members of our Founders team. This team will be passionate about classical education, and adhere to the LCS Vision and Mission. (For more details on LCS Governance, see page 32.)

Download the Loveland Classical Schools charter application dated 8/24/2010.