Lately, I’ve been getting the notifications of what I wrote about on this day a year ago.
Last summer our family made the commitment to pull out of an organization that says they’re classical and that they have lots of conversations within their pay-to-play communities.
This was a jarring decision for us because of our long-term blind loyalty and commitment to the company. I had been serving in multiple roles and “all in.” I couldn’t imagine a time when we wouldn’t homeschool without this program.
But then things got all cattywampus and I began to read the contracts I had been signing annually! I looked at the best practices of the company I had been promoting through the lens of what it actually was – a business instead of ministry!
I assessed that, in my everyday common sense knowledge, there were 13 areas of federal law infringements that I, with the knowledge I had of day-to-day business and how the conversations usually went down in 1-on-1 leadership calls, was pretty sure any court of law would find illegal. (I’d recommend joining this facebook group and reading the files section if you’re like a road accident rubbernecker and want to know what all the fuss was about.)
Last year, I repented. I apologized to the people I had encouraged to join and invested in and hoped the best for their home education journey. I told them I was wrong. I asked for forgiveness for acting in ways that were recommended “best practices” that I now understood were illegal.
I did this both privately and publicly and I wrote lots of blog posts as I was processing because it seemed like the situation was a rotten onion… every layer you touched would reveal some fresh hell of deception or wordsmithing or blame-shifting. I was filthy with the stink of it and just sick at what I had been a part of perpetuating.
And now I’m here, a year later.
The dust has settled. Sort of.
We did pay for a community this past year and that community had familiar elements to what we had used in the past. We used the non-copyrighted curriculum with which we were already familiar from our previous program and we replaced certain elements with another curriculum. (That curriculum allows their products to be used however is needed once a person has initially paid for them – which, surprise! surprise! – is actually what is legal according to the Doctrine of First Use… which is a rabbit trail I will ignore for now and just mention so you can research more if you’d like).
We discovered that with local control – even after shifting all of the workers into employee status and insuring the 501c3 non-profit organization correctly… the cost to families to participate was about 40% of what we had been paying to the company that had been exploiting the local leadership and legal loopholes.
We discovered that it takes a LOT of hours to make a new community and it’s certainly easier to just sign on the dotted line of a ridiculous and unenforceable contract (because you can’t enforce a contract on something that the laws of the country wouldn’t support). But there’s something just so nice about not having to say phrases like, “Well, I know nothing’s ever perfect… but the company is really trying and people just need to pray about it and be more gracious.”
It feels very American-independence to be responsible for your own decisions! And it’s nice to not have to toe the line to a rule that was created for a situation several states away being made by a guy whose oldest child is still in the grammar ages and whose main focus is creating a company that can support the salaries of athletic team members and an athletic complex!
And… and… and… the list really could go on for quite awhile.
I honestly believe most homeschoolers didn’t choose this life because it would be EASY. I think they chose this to work to find the RIGHT for their kids.
In the last year I’ve also consistently prayed that some of the issues that have come to light and been taken to corporate would be addressed. Honestly – I still admire the curriculum and model and if there weren’t illegal business and exploitation of local leaders… I’d really want to be back in that community because I loved it so much! But that won’t happen unless there are changes, so I have been praying…
Here’s what I’ve observed from the company during the last year:
- They have had executives create a false front non-profit so that their communities can meet in churches without threatening their tax exempt status. (Haven’t done all the research on this to say it definitively and publicly but it sure sounds a lot like those companies who do off-shore accounts to dodge tax liability or something….)
- They had an employee misrepresent the company to a tax assessor in North Carolina to exonerate their actions… and then misrepresented the tax assessor’s opinion to their leadership and have never addressed or corrected their lies to the Directors.
- They have introduced a master’s degree program in a field that is unproven from a college without distinction in said field for a multi-thousand dollar price tag that has really only one career outcome – and that is to grade papers for the company’s high school enrollees.
- They have moved their regional training sessions to meet at a private home, choosing not to follow social distancing or mask mandates in place by their state due to Covid 19 (based on social media photos).
These actions have not given me a reason to believe there is any sense of repentance on the part of the company leadership. In fact, it’s almost like they’re doubling down on the attitude of using people as commodities and not caring if the local leadership gets caught. After all, the corporation is safe, right?
It’s a shame. Looking at the bullet point list of the things accomplished in the past year by this company… is the corporation acting as though parents are objects to be measured (and fleeced) or souls to be nurtured?
I believe, based on the observed actions, that the company leadership sees dollar signs instead of souls when they look at enrollment numbers. Until that changes, we will continue to stay away and I cannot, in good conscience, recommend anyone be involved. I am legitimately terrified for those who are serving in leadership positions because the abuse of law and power are so thick there that it’s as though no one can get away unscarred.
I grieve for that. I bet you grieve for that, too.
But we don’t grieve as those who have no hope, because a curriculum company is not our idol. It is not the silver bullet. It is not the golden ticket we can’t function without possessing.
Our kids will be ok if we choose another path that has fewer pitfalls.
If anything can be said about this past year it is that I have learned even more where to place my trust and that is in a God who is unmovable, unsurprised, and so incredibly interested in the true best for me and our family.
I’d love to hear your stories of how you’re doing a year (or more) out in the comments!