Somewhere during the week of March 4, I got an email from a homeschool curriculum company whose materials I'd used for several years. I had decided last November to stop using the products because they didn't seem to be a good fit for the girls anymore. But I didn't unsubscribe from the emails; I guess I never got around to it. And what a God-incidence that turned out to be.
The email proudly announced that the company had purposely aligned most of its books with the so-called Common Core Standards (CCS), the troublesome federally-mandated education "standards" that have recently been foisted upon public schools in 45 states and the District of Columbia. I'd been aware of and had been very concerned about the CCS, though I'd not really thought much about it in relation to homeschooling until then. But when this company came out touting the CCS as a good thing, I sat up and took notice.
As I discussed this with a couple of friends and happened upon a few related blog posts over the next few days, I discovered that some other prominent homeschool curriculum companies had also apparently chosen to align with CCS. And that scared me. Homeschoolers - along with those who've enrolled their kids in independent private schools - are not mandated to follow the CCS in any way. And I've not spoken with one informed homeschooler who wants to do so. But if all or most of our curriculum providers were to align, we'd be forced by default to go along with it.
Armed with that concern, I decided late in the evening on March 8 to start a Facebook group for homeschoolers interested in knowing more. In particular, I wanted to use it as a platform for researching which homeschool companies would align and which would not. So I started sending query letters to the companies whose materials I use, and a few of the ladies I'd invited to join the group made their own suggestions and started inviting their friends to join, too.
Well, one thing led to another and now - as of today - our "little" group has over 1,300 members only nine days after it was started, and I have sent query letters to over 250 providers of homeschool-related curriculum and resources. Not only that, we have an official name - The Educational Freedom Coalition (TEFC) - along with a logo and a website. And I'm going to be interviewed about this whole thing on a nationally-broadcast blog talk radio show this coming week!
So to say that I've been swamped with this is beyond understatement; in fact, it has fairly consumed most of my waking hours for the last week, and I've been staying up much later than I should every night in order to keep the ball rolling. But, honestly, that's okay. I can clearly see that God's been sustaining me through the busy-ness. And, though I know I can't continue at this pace indefinitely, I rejoice in the fact that He's given me strength and endurance during this launch phase.
So what is TEFC? To quote from the website:
This homeschool educational resource database provides information for homeschool parents relative to the Common Core Standards (CCS) - alternately known in some contexts as the Next Generation (NexGen) Standards - currently being implemented across the country. The lists identify which homeschool-related companies and products have explicitly chosen to align with the CCS/NexGen, which have some sort of coincidental connection, which are correlated to the CCS/NexGen, and which have pledged to remain independent.
We don't pass judgment on businesses that have chosen to align their products in one way or another; we respect each company's right to make business decisions as it sees fit.Rather, our sole purpose for providing the lists is to offer factual full disclosure that will enable homeschool parents to make well-informed educational decisions for their children. Just as these parents make a variety of other choices in terms of curriculum (i.e., creation science vs. evolution, Charlotte Mason vs. classical vs. textbook-style, spiral vs. mastery math), so, too, they should be well-informed when it comes to CCS/NexGen-alignment.That said, TEFC does not claim any right to advise any parent about what to choose. The lists are purely informational in nature, based on the publishers' own written or verbal statements.
If you visit the site - and I hope you will not only stop by but also bookmark it and share it with others - you'll see an introductory post that further explains my research process. And, most importantly, you'll have access to our lists.
Of the 250-some entities I've contacted, about 180 have already replied - or, in a few cases, they've made unambiguous statements on their websites such that I feel comfortable classifying their positions in regards to the CCS even though they haven't yet responded to my letter. And I'm working hard to get answers from the remaining 70 because I feel strongly that we deserve to know what we're getting from the companies whose resources we pay for. My goal is to have data on every single homeschool-related company or product that other TEFC members and I can think of, and I plan to push until that happens.
As I explain on the TEFC website, this really is an important issue for homeschoolers - and for every adult who truly cares about kids no matter where they're educated. And so I hope that you - my readers here - will spread the word and share the site in your spheres of influence. There's a ton of other good information available about the CCS on the internet, but I hope TEFC might fill a need not addressed elsewhere. In fact, TEFC is unique in that it contains the most complete, thoroughly researched list of where curriculum companies stand in terms of alignment.
It's my sincere desire that I might serve the homeschool community I so dearly love through the information I'm gathering. So, if you have any questions after looking things over, just let me know.