The Classical Online School Rejecting Common Core
What sets FreedomProject Education apart from other online programs? The answer is its mission to create a biblically-based classical education that is rooted in the Judeo-Christian principles that our forefathers infused into the founding documents of our country. Bringing this type of education to students across the country and beyond our borders required the use of cutting-edge technology. This mission enticed me to leave the pleasures of retirement to help make it a reality. After thirty-six years in classrooms of all grade levels and types, I had been looking forward to slowing down, but I was not hesitant to accept the position of Curriculum Director for FPE.
As I began to build the FPE curriculum and became more familiar with classical education, my beliefs about the detrimental nature of the “fads” that had marked my teaching career—scripted teachers’ manuals, the “write to read” program, inclusion, and No Child Left Behind—were confirmed. Instinctively, I had rebelled by attempting to hold on to the tried-and-true methods of the past because I knew they were best for the students.
In early 2012, information about Common Core State Standards was brought to my attention. It became clear to me that the purpose of these “fads” was to pave the way for a federally-controlled education system, a.k.a. Common Core, that is one-size-fits-all in nature and usurps the parents’ role in the education of their children. Immediately, we at FPE realized this was a battle for control of our children, and FPE became a leading opponent to Common Core.
Equally as intense as our efforts to alert parents and others to the dangers that came with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards was our effort to keep our curriculum Common Core-free. The landscape of available curriculum choices changed drastically in March of 2012. At that time, many publishers, including several of my long-time favorites, announced they were aligning with the Common Core State Standards.
We began the arduous task of revamping our curriculum by identifying and removing all textbooks from publishers aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Then, the painstaking job of finding replacements began. We had the Common Core-free curriculum in place for the 2014 -2015 school year. Tina Hollenbeck of the Green Bay Area Christian Homeschool Association declared FPE to be independent of any alignment to CCSS on her master list of thousands of sources for homeschool parents. Mrs. Hollenbeck has contacted and vetted each source to help many homeschool families make informed decisions about what they choose to use.
We use technology primarily for the delivery of instruction. Carefully-chosen textbooks are the basis for instruction and are used to complete assignments. The use of books as a means to learn is an essential experience. The union of highly qualified teachers and quality textbooks results in the achievement two of the goals of a classical education: passing on the accumulated knowledge from previous generations and teaching the child how to teach himself.
The curriculum used by FPE is the result of intensive research and input from those who have used the textbooks we consider adopting. Quite frequently, when I am discussing the specific series we use, the reaction from the prospective parent is one of familiarity with at least several of the series. Most home school families will recognize at least some of these names: Memoria Press, Apologia, Saxon Math, Story of the World, Mystery of History, Clarence Carson, Warriner’s Grammar, and Wordly Wise.
Since our beginning in September of 2011, our technology has evolved due to our dedicated staff diligently searching for the best and most user-friendly system available. The biggest challenge to them at first was that our needs and visions exceeded what had been designed. We were truly on the cutting edge of bringing a virtual classroom to the homes of our students. The staff’s perseverance was rewarded last year when they found Adobe Connect to bring a live interactive classroom to students’ homes and Canvas to allow parents and students to view grades 24/7 as well as access and submit assignments. Canvas allows our teachers to post assignments, grade them, and return the graded assignments to students. This combination brings to each FPE family a classroom featuring interaction between students and teachers and tools not available in a brick-and-mortar classroom, along with an easy, reliable means to do the “clerical” work of the classroom.
I invite you to visit our website at www.fpeusa.org for details about the cost, schedules, sneak peeks into our classrooms, and many more specifics. There is a distinct difference between K-12, the free public school online program, and us. FreedomProject Education accepts not one penny of government funding, leaving us to answer only to God, our students, and their families.