Indiana Daily Student

Charter school tries to increase support in Bloomington

Proponents of Seven Oaks Classical School spoke to members of the Bloomington community Saturday at the Monroe County Public Library about the charter school they hope to open in fall 2015.

Seven Oaks would teach their students using a classical education curriculum, which emphasizes things like cultural literacy, Socratic discussion, character education and music and the arts.

The school will be overseen by the Hillsdale College Barney Charter School Initiative.
Lindsey Weaver, a parent who hopes to send her children to Seven Oaks, said an understanding of music, history, literature and philosophy are intrinsic parts of a classical education.

Phil Kilgore, director of the Barney Initiative, said he supports classical education in the classroom.

“We have deep convictions about the need for restoration of classical education,” Kilgore said.

Kilgore said four charter schools are now open in the United States under the leadership of the Barney Initiative in Texas, New Mexico, Georgia and Arkansas.

The Barney Initiative is currently helping the founding board of Seven Oaks get the school up and running and will help the school find a leader once the school is implemented.

Kilgore said once the school is in operation, they will visit again and spend time in the classrooms.

Terrence Moore, a history professor at Hillsdale, outlined the curriculum that Seven Oaks would implement.

“Indiana needs a classical charter school like this one,” he said.

Moore said Seven Oaks would help put more beauty in students’ lives through the instruction of art and music. Students would also be required to read and write poetry.

Students would study Latin as well as French or Spanish and learn history, social studies and about the Renaissance in middle school.

“These are going to be the things that feed their minds and souls,” Moore said.
Moore said teachers at Seven Oaks will be ones who put learning first. He said he believes in charter schools because they give families choices.

“Not to have that choice in a town like Bloomington is odd,” he said.

He compared the classical education to the education his grandparents had, when he said students knew how to do math without a calculator.

Moore spoke about an experience he had when a cashier was not able to give him proper change because the cashier could not do the math without a calculator.

For the initial enrollment at the school, every student who wants to be enrolled would get in until all spots were filled. When a child leaves the school, new families could get their child enrolled through a lottery system.

“A lot of parents are looking for this kind of choice,” Moore said.

The Green School is a second charter school hoping to serve Monroe and surrounding counties. The Green School’s curriculum would be focused on environmental sustainability and social justice.

As of Jan. 27, the Green School founders are still working on the charter application.
The Indiana Charter School Board oversees Indiana’s charter schools and reviews applications for new charter schools.

The application process for a charter school to be opened consists of six steps — a letter of intent, full application, application evaluation, interview, a public hearing and an ICSB board meeting.

“The ICSB’s mission is to authorize and hold accountable a portfolio of high-performing charter schools in which students achieve high levels of growth and graduate prepared for college and careers,” according to the ICSB mission statement.

Follow reporter Sydney Murray on Twitter @sydlm13.

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