Reports from the states in the Gulf Region are uniformly positive this year and indicate a great deal of creative activity by Latin teachers and the various Classical organizations.
High school Latin programs appear to be doing well at the moment; the number of programs seems to be holding steady, and there are new programs announced in Mississippi. A concern voiced by Mark Clark of Mississippi and Scott Goins of Louisiana about teacher retirements and the closing of programs seems to be on everyones mind. The issue has received extensive discussion at recent ACL, APA, and CAMWS meetings, and will continue to be addressed in those larger venues, but the real work of preserving programs will fall on people at the local and state levels. The State VPs in the Gulf Region have shown exemplary initiative in contacting and staying in touch with the high school teachers in their states. The efforts of Ginny Lindzey of Texas, to make the high school teachers and contact information accessible on the Internet, are especially commendable.
The new Greek programs in Mississippi and Texas are very welcome news this year.
Classics programs at the colleges and universities in the Gulf Region are quite strong with undergraduate enrollments up in Louisiana and Texas. We are delighted with this news, since recent surveys indicate that on the national scene Latin enrollments are rising at the high school/junior high levels and falling at the post-secondary levels. Because the new Latin teachers needed to replace the retiring teachers will most likely be trained locally, the strength of our college and university programs is a promising sign. The distance-learning initiative in Louisiana seems to have great potential for helping to train Latin teachers, especially in small programs.
Classical associations seem to be dong well in our area. The revival of CASUS has been a boom for Classicists in Texas and New Mexico. The lack of Classic organizations in Mississippi is a cause for concern, as indicated by Mark Clark, although the creative teachers in Mississippi seem to be working around this limitation.
Since Robert Cape became Regional VP while on sabbatical and did not return until February 2001, the emphasis must be on future initiatives based upon the good practices repeated by our state VPs this year.
· encourage all high school Classics teachers in the Region to know and contact their state and Regional VPs if they feel their program is in jeopardy
· encourage state VPs to make a tour of their state to be in touch with teachers
· strengthen ties between the states; to this end the Regional VP will make a tour of the Region
· discuss initiatives to address the potential high school teacher shortage in our area with programs adapted to the particular strengths/requirements of our schools and Region
On the whole, Classics programs are doing well in Louisiana, although some programs remain in jeopardy because of a lack of teachers. Davina McClain at Loyola recently began an internet listing of available positions in the state which should help improve the situation.
The state JCL remains strong under the leadership of Natalie Roy of Episcopal High School. The Louisiana Classical Association is also thriving having recently had one of its largest meetings ever.
Classics enrollments are up at several of the state universities. The University of Louisiana at Monroe and McNeese State University have entered into a joint distance-learning program that is intended to offer more opportunities from students, especially those intending to become certified in Classics, to take Classics courses. So far the program has been very successful.
The year 2000 marked some progress for Classics in Mississippi. Reports from universities and colleges indicate that Classics programs are doing well and are drawing good numbers of students. Mississippi is fortunate to have a tradition of excellent teaching in Classics. In fact, during this past year two Classicists, Catherine Freis of Millsaps College and Robert Wolverton of Mississippi State, were recognized with awards from the Mississippi Humanities Council for their contributions in teaching Classics.
Reports from high schools indicated that Classics is also doing reasonably well, although some problems are evident. The most persistent problem over the past fifteen to twenty years has been the isolation of high school Latin teachers. The state lacks a Classics organization, participation by Classicists in the Mississippi Foreign Language Association has been minimal, and a steady decline in CAMWS membership has been evident. The isolation is somewhat surprising in light of the number of secondary teachers and the range of Classics programs in public and private schools: in public institutions, twenty-three instructors currently are offering at least two years of Latin; in private schools, approximately the same number is offering up to four years of Latin, and at least two instructors are offering courses in Greek.
Texas is fortunate to have TCA members who are actively involved in the state of teacher training and the development of and preparation for the Latin ExCET (Examination for the Certification of Educators in Texas). A few years back, under the leadership of former TCA President Tim Moore, we developed a mini website off of TCSs main website called Latin ExCET Preparation at http://www.fxclassics.org/excet.htm. This site contains information on dates for the exam, advice on taking the exam, practice questions and answers, and an outline of material covered on the exam. This exam was initiated in 1987 (I was a guinea pig taking the original exam!) and has always been considered a very difficult exam and one that is not focused on the authors that secondary teachers usually teach, but instead includes authors as difficult as Tacitus. The difficulty of the exam has prevented some teachers who would be suitable at the secondary level from being certified.
For some time we have been trying to get our various commissioners of education to address the issue of the difficulty of the test, especially because it was becoming a deterrent for some potential teachers. Many modern language exams had been revised and we were asking the same. Finally, a new revision is to take place. Bill Wales, who is with the State Board of Educator Certification, attended our fall TCA conference and handed out applications to serve on the committee to revise the Latin ExCET. In the winter issue of our biannual journal, Texas Classics in Action, there is a copy of this application. The CAMWS VP also just learned that this application is online and intend to link it to the website in the near future.
In addition, Tim Moore will be holding an ExCET Prep workshop at UT on March 24 for anyone interested in taking the exam this year.
Richard Evans, Linda Fleming, and Ginny Lindzey decided to pool resources and develop a page to promote the study of Greek. What began as a page developed into another mini website which can be found at http://www.txclassics.org/greek.htm. So far it includes articles about teaching Greek at the secondary level, lists of texts available, book reviews, links to many useful websites on Greek, and announcements about intensive Greek courses offered at Baylor and UT this summer, etc. Inspired by our little website, were also going to present a panel at ACL this summer on Greek at the secondary level.
The Classical Association of the Southwestern United States was revived last fall and held its conference in New Mexico. The CAMWS VP doesnt see CASUS as being in competition with CAMWS in any way because of its size. It does, however, meet the needs of people living in Texas and New Mexico (and Arizona?) because of similar regional interests, especially the Hispanic influence on culture in our part of the world. Texans, namely Pat Able in El Paso, Dr. Ed George at Texas Tech, and Patricia Retorik-Sprinkle in Denton, are the prime organizers in CASUS. In order to support their endeavors, a web page was made for CASUS to report on the fall conference and advertise their call for papers for next year. This page can be found at http://www.txclassics.org/casus.htm. At this point CASUS does not have membership fees and disseminates information strictly via the internet. Perhaps in the future there could be a joint meeting of CAMWS and CASUS?
In the winter issue of Texas Classics in Action, texts were included from the New World edited by Ed George which are about the conversion of the natives in the area of Mexico City to Catholicism. Being a native of south Texas and a person who can trace part of her family back to the Canary Island settlers sent over by the King of Spain, I read these texts with great interest. I am sure that other teachers and students in our state will enjoy them as much as I did
Ed Geor.ge also helped out earlier this year by providing a Spanish/English flyer on the benefits of taking Latin, directed at Hispanic students and their parents. The text of this flyer can be found at the National Committee for Latin and Greek website at http://www.promotelatin.org/latinspanish.htm.
This material was posted on the web by CPL Chair, Tom Sienkewicz, at Monmouth College, Monmouth, Illinois. If you have any questions, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.