Responsive Education Group is planning to start a new charter school in the Lubbock area for the 2018-19 school year.
Lubbock Classical Academy will teach students a strong liberal arts program with emphasis on American civics, art, music math, science and Latin, according to Tracy Phernetton, who will be the campus director.
Tanya Bell, regional director for Responsive Education Group schools in West Texas, said the organization is still seeking a location, but hopes to open next year for grades kindergarten through fifth grade. Eventually, it will expand all the way through high school. She said she hopes to have around200 students.
Bell told about 50 people gathered for a meeting of community leaders at the Science Spectrum in early December that the school is designed to feel more like a private school, but it will be a free, public school.
That’s because the company believes that school districts get so big that they don’t have a lot of parent communication, Phernetton said.
“We are big on parent involvement. Keeping it small, keeping the parents involved, moreso, and having a very rigorous curriculum lends itself more to feeling like a private entity,” Phernetton said.
Phernetton said the program at Lubbock Classical Academy will provide a classical program that reflects the motto of Charlotte Mason, which is education is an atmosphere, a discipline and a life.
“We believe a classical program is an effective way to promote wisdom and virtue, while preparing students to be able to learn anything and to be able to live as responsible citizens and lifelong learners in a society,” Phernetton said.
Responsive Education Group already has one school in Lubbock. Premier High School is one of the group’s schools, but it focuses on credit recovery for high school students. The charter college preparatory schools are a different type of school, Bell said. The group’s classical academies fall under that category of college preparatory schools, she said.
REG received its first charters from the state in 1998, she said, while it opened its first college preparatory schools in 2007.
“We are well-respected by TEA. TEA likes us for the variety and the choice that we can give parents and students. Our schools score well on that silly bad-worded test that we all hate to say, the STAAR test. But you know what? It’s how we’re measured, and our schools score well on that, consistently,” Bell said. “We don’t want to teach to the test. But our kids are so well-grounded and well-founded in the education, that they pass the test. And so we meet that standard in TEA.”
Bell was referring to the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness that all Texas public school students must take.
Bell’s husband, Brad Bell, is also regional director for the Responsive Education Group. He is handling building acquisition and start-up efforts.
“When it comes down to it, and when you boil it down to the essence of the thing, this is kind of a industry-driven curriculum and school that we’re seeing,” Brad Bell said.
The Lubbock Classical Academy will teach students how to think and problem solve, Brad Bell said, instead of just teaching them how to score on the STAAR test.