Last week I heard of another community in our area closing.
With this particular community, the church is booting them from the building because renting space to a for-profit entity puts the church’s property tax exemption at risk in their county.
The whole adventure caused the Director to take a hard look at her own licensing agreement and she realized she was carrying complete liability as a sole proprietor for the community and, after prayer, she and her husband decided that the risk was too high for them to bear. No one else is willing to be the liable, sacrificial lamb for the community, and just like, a snap of the fingers, and a full community of folks is without a direction for the next year.
See, the tricky thing about relationships – many of us find our communities extremely valuable and just plain like them! Many are loyal to the leadership that exists and, after realizing that our financial involvement puts their family in a precarious position with liability… we just don’t want to wish that uncertainty upon the people we care about.
That’s a reason why relationships matter.
Some folks might think that the answer to a community closing is to just close up shop, run away to suck their thumb, and grieve for the good ‘ol days.
Hold that thought. There might be a better way…
Ya’ll, you realize that there are communities of homeschoolers meeting all over the country who don’t place an insane amount of liability on one individual?
Ya’ll realize that there are people who are able to locally govern themselves and have accountability, community, and academic rigor?
Friends! Groups of people meeting in community to educate together are not a proprietary issue!
If you’ve been in a community and love it, you don’t have to stop.
But it will take work. It will take thoughtfulness, and it will require your core group to jump through hoops.
So the questions you really need to ask yourself:
- Is this what God is calling me to do?
- Do I do hard things?
- Does my life have the margin to move from consumer in this area to provider?
- Who’s willing to journey with me?
(Realize, your previous Director(s) might be very quiet about the whole topic for awhile and they likely won’t take a leadership role. That’s because they are under a non-compete clause of their previous licensing agreement and even though those have been proven to be pretty much unenforceable in court, chances are good they’re trying to “do the right thing” by their previous position. That’s a reason you like them. Keep them informed of your activities.)
“For the sole true end of education is simply this: to teach men how to learn for themselves…”Dorothy Sayers, “Lost Tools of Learning” (1947)
The lovely thing about the classical model that many folks in communities have been experiencing, and that the natural tendencies of home educators is to look beyond what is easily provided for them, is that no topic is unapproachable to you! You have all the skills needed to approach this lack of community problem, tackle it methodically, and find success!
Here are a few options to get you started in the right direction:
Lost Tools of Learning. Dorothy Sayers’ lecture on the Lost Tools of Learning is fabulous. Many people have heard of it but fewer have actually read it. Stop. Take a moment and read it. You won’t be sorry.
Homeschool CPA. Carol Topp has created a website, books, and workshops that are invaluable to a group wanting to figure out how to create a legally compliant organization that doesn’t place any member in a precarious position. She is available for consultations as well. I bought my first book from her three years ago and now I have three of them as well as a workshop… her blog posts over the years have helped me realize items where I can adjust and lead well.
Jamie Buckland – Classical Program Consultant. Jamie Buckland has opened her services to the public since the beginning of this year and what she has to offer is valuable and helpful for those trying to find their own way to a homeschool community. She offers workshops, consultations, and her desire is to help folks cut through the chase and focus on the main priorities of your home education endeavor.
Do any of you have other resources you would add to this list? Please leave it in the comments!