COMMENTARY: Top-ranked schools offer Latin

COMMENTARY: Top-ranked schools offer Latin


Sarah Knapp Palumbo, a member of the Coginchaug Class of 1993, is a Latin instructor and state chair of the Arizona Junior Classical League. She sent the following letter to the RSD Board of Education.

To the members of the Regional School District 13's School Board, I am sure by now you have received a number of letters from the public expressing their concern about the reduction of the Latin program. Without a doubt, you all know the benefits of Latin. I know you have seen the research that shows us that Latin helps students with their SAT scores, aids them with their study of the law and sciences, and provides them with a solid foundation of grammatical concepts that will help them with their study of English language and literature.

You also probably have heard that the study of Latin provides students more of an advantage when applying to college. All of the benefits mentioned above fulfill the district’s mission: “Through engagement in authentic learning, all Regional School District 13 students are empowered to thrive and contribute as global citizens.” 

I am writing to tell you what will happen if you do not support a strong Latin program.

I have been teaching Latin in Arizona for 20 years. When I first arrived to this state, Latin was offered in the public schools. However, as time went on, many school districts began to offer Mandarin and American Sign Language and Latin began to disappear from the public schools and, for the mostpart, is now only offered in the public charter schools.

I do not know if you follow what is happening in Arizona, but a large number of the students have been fleeing to the charter schools because the charter schools offer many things that the public schools do not, one of them being Latin.

You may have heard about the top-ranked charter school system, BASIS, which is based in Arizona. This school requires its students to take Latin during middle school. You may also have heard about another top-ranked public charter school system, Great Hearts Academies, another program that is very successful and requires its students to enroll in Latin in the middle grades.

The list of successful public charter schools where Latin is required can go on.

Parents, not only in Arizona but now in other states where these campuses are growing, are flocking to these campuses because they want to provide their children with the opportunities that public schools do not. This will happen to your schools in Regional School District 13, where valuable programs such as Latin face cuts.

I am a graduate of Coginchaug Regional High School and have been so lucky to attend all the schools, K-12, because my parents made the choice to move to Durham from Middletown. They wanted to provide me, as well as my brother and sister who are both graduates, with many opportunities provided by RSD13 not available in other surrounding districts.

By reducing the Latin program, you are denying many students the opportunity to learn Latin and about the foundations of Western Civilization. Those students will flee your district looking for the opportunity elsewhere as it has happened to so many schools in Arizona.

I urge you to support the Latin program.



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