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AP Latin Literature Cancelled -- Please Add Your Name


As many of you know, AP Latin Literature is being cancelled, although AP Vergil will remain in place for the immediate future. Please read the letter from the AP in the news section on the right and the letter from Ronnie Ancona in the Blog, and if you feel strongly about keeping the AP Latin Literature program alive and active in the United States, please add a comment to this post with your name and school affiliation attached. I will collect these in preparation for what is sure to be a counter-offensive by some of the leading lights in US Classics education. Thanks for adding your names to the list.

Andrew Reinhard
Director of eLearning
Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers

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Possibly they will back us up in a boycott. My school is in Bergen County, one of the wealthiest in the nation, and our the parents are huge supporters of our Latin program because they believe it prepares them so well for academic life after high school, not because we offer AP classes. This year, we have over 200 Latin students of whom fewer than 10% are enrolled in AP. Keep in mind that a number of private schools are dumping AP's and substituting seminars; here is a quote from a New York Times article, February 2002 that makes me think we have a tenable argument worth pursuing:

The Fieldston School, a selective private high school in Riverdale, the Bronx, was deeply worried when it decided to abolish Advanced Placement classes more than a year ago, fearing the change might hurt the chances of its seniors in the increasingly fierce competition for college.

But last month, when this year's seniors, the first class to graduate in three decades without taking one Advanced Placement class, heard back from colleges about early admission decisions, the school felt vindicated. Of the 65 Fieldston students who applied early, at least 40 were admitted through early decision to their first-choice schools, and about a dozen were admitted through ''early action'' selections that are nonbinding for the students.

The totals constituted the highest early acceptance rate for the school in several years, said Rachel Friis Stettler, the principal of its high school, which is part of the larger combined elementary and high school known as Ethical Culture Fieldston School.

Fieldston's apparently successful abandonment of A. P. classes comes in the face of the persistent, perhaps growing use by the nation's top colleges of performance in such classes as a measure of a candidate.

But Fieldston is in the vanguard of a small movement of selective private schools in New York City and across the nation who are uncomfortable offering A. P. classes. They say the classes, often survey courses covering a lot of broad ground in a short period of time, restrict teacher creativity and the ability to probe enticing themes, while increasing stress on students.

See full article at: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9506E1DE173DF932A357...
I can tell you that some teachers (including myself), particularly in public school districts which by policy do not offer honors foreign language classes, would find that without AP, their programs would simply die when forced to compete with larger programs with AP offerings.
Our students deserve as many opportunities to display thier success. It is a great skill to read Latin literature, which countless Universities would appreciate to see in their applicant pools. Why limit the rewards and possibilities for our students?

Ashley Irminger
Rocky Mount Preparatory School
Rocky Mount, North Carolina
I am one of the teachers who alternate AP Latin Literature (Catullus and Ovid) with Vergil every other year. This has proven to be very popular with the students and our numbers are growing every year. Almost without exception the students prefer Catullus and Ovid to Vergil, but like being able to do both. I don't know what we'll do if the AP Latin Literature is eliminated.

Hugh Maxwell
Latin and German teacher
Northern High School
Durham, North Carolina
Though I am not currently teaching the AP Latin Lit syllabus, I was looking forward teaching it next year (and really wanted to try out the AP Cicero syllabus!). As much as I love Vergil and the Aeneid, I believe that only offering the one AP Latin test is a bit one-sided and does not offer enough of a choice for teachers. I would expect the number of overall AP Latin test takers actually to decrease if only one AP test was offered.

I hearily agree with what others more knowledgeable than I have said about the short-sightedness of this decision, and I would ask the College Board and ETS to reconsider.

Keith Toda
Latin teacher and all-around nice guy
Brookwood High School
Snellville, GA
Stercus tauri from the College Board

From: David McCarthy (latinlovermccarthy@hotmail.com)
Silver Lake Regional High School
260 Pembroke St., Kingston, MA 02364

Let me apologize in advance for venting my spleen about the 'not-for-profit' entity a.k.a., the tail wagging the educational dog. I admire those of you who can dispassionately express your disappointment. I tried to post my screed on the AP Latin EDG; I am most perplexed that it never was posted:

I have just received notice from the College Board advising that they will not offer an AP Latin Literature exam after 2009.

Needless to say, this royally screws many Latin IV/V sequences.

They have the audacity to claim that they're losing money.

These parasitic bean-counters forced over-worked high school teachers all across the country to jump through their ridiculous AP SYLLABUS hoops; less than a year later, they pull the rug out from underneath us. As their compensation packages soar close to a million dollars, they claim that they cannot afford to offer 2 measly AP Latin exams?

How long do they think that we'll continue to consume our Recommended Daily Allowance of ETS Kool-Aid and thereby delude ourselves into believing the "We're a 'not-for-profit' corporation" fairy tale. We just had a long series of submissions regarding "Students beyond the AP." ETS, in their ultimate wisdom, now has put many more students 'beyond the AP.' Is screwing advanced Latin students out of AP credit the sort of public service a 'not-for-profit' corporation is required to do?

ETS is, by the admission of its CEO, a 'billion dollar commercial entity.' While they line their pockets with over $2 million in bonuses in 2001alone, we just get jerked around by their assertions of poverty.

Their claim that they cannot afford to administer 2 separate AP Latin exams because of the cost should be recognized for what is really is: pure, unmitigated stercus tauri.

I include below an article form the NY Times to belie their poor-mouthing. (Admittedly, the article is from 2002, but the bottom line profits surely have risen since then)

I think that it's time for a Boston 'SA'Tea Party. Does anybody know when the next shipment from Princeton is arriving?

Corporate Culture and Big Pay Come to Nonprofit Testing Service
Published: November 23, 2002
Buoyed by growing revenue, the Educational Testing Service, the not-for-profit group that produces the SAT, the Advanced Placement exams and the Graduate Record Exams, last year gave one-time bonuses of as much as $366,000 to 15 of its officers.
E.T.S., the world's largest testing organization, has traditionally paid salaries comparable to those at colleges, universities, and groups like the College Board, which administers the tests that the service devises for it.
But under the leadership of Kurt Landgraf, a former chief operating officer of the DuPont Company who became president of E.T.S. two years ago, compensation has soared.
Mr. Landgraf himself received nearly $800,000 for his first 10 months on the job -- about twice as much as Gaston Caperton, who heads the College Board -- and more than all but two college presidents in the nation. One new vice president earned $25,700 for her first five weeks on the job and received a one-time payment of $212,306.
E.T.S. was founded in 1947 as a tax-exempt organization to meet the growing demand for admissions tests for colleges and graduate schools. In large part, the pay changes reflect the service's conversion from an entity staffed mostly by academics to one that is run by executives recruited from the corporate world and that had revenue of more than $700 million in the last fiscal year.
Mr. Landgraf said the new compensation system was necessary to attract the people the service needs to help expand beyond college testing into a more global business. Those involve several new areas of operation, including English tests in countries like China, and state elementary-school assessment tests throughout the United States.
''This is a billion-dollar commercial entity,'' Mr. Landgraf said. ''We're an organization with a very strong social mission, but we are also a very large commercial enterprise. Our compensation is based on the simple principle that we have to attract people who can help us grow, and while we can never pay what DuPont or General Electric does, because we don't have tools like stock options, we can use incentive pay and other cash payments.''
Tax lawyers said that if a nonprofit seemed to be cashing out most of its excess revenues in the form of bonuses, that could be improper. But Mr. Landgraf said, ''We are not doing anything like that, and we are nowhere near the line.''
The bonuses totaled some $2 million for the fiscal year ending in June 2001, when the service had an operating surplus of $34 million.
Others take a different view, arguing that because the service is a tax-exempt group, it must operate in the public interest, and that it should use surplus revenue to reduce fees, not to enrich its officers.
''This money comes directly out of the pockets of test-takers, their parents and taxpayers from states that contract with E.T.S., people who have no choice but to pay for these tests,'' said Robert Schaeffer, the public education director of Fairtest, an advocacy group critical of standardized testing. ''It's very sad to think how many families' SAT and A.P. fees went straight into bonuses.''
More than two million students take the SAT each year, which costs $26, in line with the $25 the other leading college admissions test, ACT, charges. Fewer take the G.R.E., which costs $115, or the graduate management admissions test -- the G.M.A.T. -- which costs $200, exams that hold virtual monopolies in their fields. In all, the service says it develops and administers more than 12 million tests worldwide.
''If E.T.S. thinks of itself as a commercial enterprise,'' Mr. Schaeffer said, ''that reflects a basic misunderstanding of the difference between for-profits and not-for-profits.''
Mr. Landgraf rejected such criticism. ''We are not doing anything inappropriate,'' he said. ''What would be inappropriate would be to lose money, or be inefficient in our market space.''
He said that in some cases, specific payments were needed to recruit key people or to cover their relocation costs.

Yvette Donado, who joined E.T.S. as a vice president for human resources five weeks before the close of the fiscal year in June 2001, received $25,700 in salary and got a $215,306 one-time payment.
''That represented what I was leaving behind, which was a 26-year career for a technology company that had profit-sharing and all kinds of perks that don't exist in this environment,'' Ms. Donado said.
Two other officials who joined E.T.S. in January 2001 -- Arthur Chisholm, vice president for information systems and technology; and Leslie Francis, vice president for communications and public affairs -- were also given one-time payments ($151,237 and $178,355, respectively) that substantially exceeded their salaries.
Others who had been at the service well before Mr. Landgraf's arrival received large incentive payments. For example, John Yopp, a vice president for graduate and professional education, had base pay of $200,861 and a bonus of $191,157. Mari Pearlman, a vice president in the service's teaching and learning division, earned $200,783 and received a bonus of $164,381.
Mr. Landgraf said the service would probably keep using incentives, depending on its performance.
Bonuses are not unheard of in the academic and foundation world, but they are usually far more modest, amounting to perhaps 5 or 10 percent of base pay.
Frank R. Gatti, the chief financial officer of E.T.S., though, maintained that the service should not be compared to foundations or colleges.
''Other than the fact that the word 'education' appears in our name, we are less comparable to academic institutions than to large health care systems, which have to compete for talent with for-profits,'' he said. At larger nonprofit hospitals, it is not uncommon for the chief executive to be paid more than $1 million a year.
Through much of the 1990's, E.T.S. lost money. In the fiscal year ended July 1998, it had a deficit of $8.2 million. In 1999, the deficit was reduced to $206,256, and in 2000 -- the year before Mr. Landgraf arrived -- the service had an operating surplus of $29 million, which grew to $34 million last year.
E.T.S. has expanded rapidly in recent years, moving aggressively into the huge new market for state assessment tests created by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which requires that every student from third grade through eighth grade be tested every year.
Mr. Landgraf said that in the next four years, the service's main business would cease to be the SAT, which it produces for the College Board. Instead, he said, E.T.S. would probably earn 40 percent of its revenues from international testing, with large contracts in China and India, and another 40 percent from state assessment testing. E.T.S. is also expanding into professional development for teachers.
Traditionally, testing in kindergarten through 12th grade has been the domain of textbook publishers, but E.T.S. has won the contract to handle all of California's assessment tests, as well as some testing in New Jersey, Georgia and Maryland.
Like E.T.S., the College Board has recently moved in a more commercial direction, creating a for-profit subsidiary, collegeboard.com, which earns money by selling products to help students prepare for the SAT -- and by charging students and parents extra fees for services like getting scores a few days early or being notified of the scores by telephone.
To David McCarthy: I am a bit annoyed that you characterized comments made by colleagues as "dispassionate." I think we all feel the same way about this: outraged, disappointed, confused, frustrated, disgruntled--pick any synonym you like. This is why we are all responding on this site.

In any case, don't get me wrong: I do not have any sympathy for College Board, which is proclaiming to better itself even with this ridiculous elimination of the AP Lit exam. No one knows the exact reasons for its decision to eliminate the exam or the people who were in on the decision-making process. The bottom line: we deserve an explanation and we deserve one now. My curriculum plan is shot to hell as well, but I plan to continue teaching Latin to the best of my abilities, even if my students must do so without a second Latin AP course on their transcripts.

Were people aware that the French AP Lit exam is also being eliminated?
I used the term 'dispassionate' to differentiate between my screed and the well-argued, rational, cogent arguments made by colleagues whom I respect. Let me apologize for annoying you as I vented my disgust for the process.
Salvete omnes - so very disheartened about the AP Latin Literature news. I was planning to teach it for the 1st (now the last) time next year. I had decided to alternate Vergil with Latin Lit so that 5 sections of Latin could be offered - now that's a bust. I suppose we will go the honors IV route, but again... why jump through the AP hoop? My district did not give us a choice as to AP or not - if we want to teach higher levels of foreign language, we must do it as AP. We all just did that asinine audit & for what? We have all invested so much time, effort, & money into teaching this course, for naught. Shame on the ETS! And, good lord, something other than an email would have been a little more respectful. I highly protest this move & add my name to the petition.

Julie Holt
Powell High School
Knoxville, TN
We have read and heard that College Board thinks that the number of students taking AP Latin Literature is too small. I think too often numbers are used to befuddle and confuse people. It is easy to say that the Latin literature test has a small number of test takers, but I wonder what the percentage it is relative to the number of Latin teachers teaching AP as compared to other languages.

The fact remains that the Latin Literature numbers are up (see Rick LaFleur's comments) and likely to go up (I think the new Cicero passages are a great improvement).

And whether teachers can teach these authors outside of AP is a mute point. Why? Students want to get ahead. College costs too much and if they can't take another Latin course for AP credit then they will turn to other courses, courses that do not demonstrate the same sort of dedication that studying 4-5 years of Latin takes.

The TCA Survey of College Admissions Counselors offers some insight into how COLLEGES feel about level of language study:

“We give the most consideration to students who have taken the highest level language available at their school.”--Robert Killion, Office of Admissions, Haverford College

“[. . .] the more years of a language, the better—it shows that the student has gone beyond the minimum requirement.” --Lia Brassord, Assistant Director of Admissions, Smith College

“[. . .] depth and mastery are important in the serious study of any discipline. The student who is willing to do more than the minimum is always more appealing.” --Ray Brown, Dean of Admissions, Texas Christian University

THIS IS WHAT COLLEGES WANT. Taking away this AP course option is a mistake, and one whose damaging effects will be seen for a long time.

College Board should reconsider its decision. If it needs to cut costs, it can stop policing teachers with syllabi issues.

Ginny Lindzey
Dripping Springs H.S.
(south of) Austin, TX
I hope that those who made this most unfortunate decision can be persuaded to reconsider. I understand that the decision was made with no consultation with the classical community or even advanced notice to it.
The AP Latin Literature has been a bright spot in American education and deserves to be strengthened and supported.

Dr. Rudolph Masciantonio
Director of Foreign Language Education Emeritus
The School District of Philadelphia
429 S. 20th St., # A
Philadelphia, PA 19146
e-mail: Rudolphus9@aol.com
telephone: 215 732 6431
website: http://members.aol.com/Rudolphus9
I am disappointed and amazed by this decision - particularly by the lack of consultation with professors and teachers of Latin. I can hardly believe that the College Board is prepared to view only one Roman author as worthy of their time and money. Perhaps the range of AP Lit authors can be reviewed and changed, but the test itself should not be dropped so casually. The academic values of the Latin Literature syllabus have been described eloquently by my colleagues here; don't forget the impact these lyric authors have on the students themselves. Many students in my years of teaching AP have told me how the words of Catullus and Horace spoke to them and to their personal experiences; these Romans have guided my students through the difficulties of adolescence and beyond. If money is the issue, it seems that this decision has been made by people who know the cost of the AP Latin Literature program but not its value. Ken Wright, Latin teacher, Paschal High School, Fort Worth, TX




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