How “Christian” homeschooling publishers like Memoria Press are selling out during the school choice boom

Long-time followers know that I am not much of a fan of social media. However, sometimes you learn some interesting things from participating in Facebook homeschooling groups.

Today, I responded to a woman who was ranting on Facebook about Memoria Press’s history curriculum. Specifically, she wanted to know why Memoria Press “deified” the Founding Fathers and did not go in depth about their owning slaves. It’s a grievance that is fairly well-known in American society these days among the crowd that dismisses American exceptionalism and western civilization.

What I found interesting about this particular complaint, however, was that the person wanted to disparage western civilization while simultaneously pretending to use a classical education curriculum for homeschooling. A classical education, after all, is a celebration of western civilization.

This lady losing her marbles online was not the end of the story though.

Another commentator explained to me that many of the parents using Memoria Press curricula were not homeschoolers at all, but parents at charter schools that were required to be secular because they receive taxpayer dollars. Those are taxpayer dollars that get funneled to Memoria Press.

These parents had no idea that Memoria Press – ostensibly a Catholic homeschooling and private school publisher – was even intended to provide a Christian education. In their experience, there are no references to Christ in their education materials. Hence they are shocked when they detect the trappings of cultural conservatism in their textbooks.

The parent referred me to Memoria Press’s shadow website, called “Memoria Press Charter.” This was certainly news to me. The administrators from Memoria Press quickly deleted her comments and mine in the feed. It was super weird. I decided to go check out the website she was talking about. And now I understand why.

Every reference to God or Christianity is gone. All those magazines and articles that Memoria Press cranks out every month about God and character being essential to education… Yeah, gone. Apparently not so essential when a stream of government money is at stake. You have to serve somebody, as they say. The Great Books are totally a substitute for Jesus if you pay enough.

Here’s what homeschoolers see – “a familiarity with the Bible is essential to understanding Western culture”:

Welcome to Memoria Press Charter – who needs the Bible, anyway:

I love Greek and Roman culture, but it is frankly kind of amusing that they see two pagan civilizations as being on par with studying Scripture.

I have been saying for a while that the influx of people choosing private education during the pandemic would not be a net positive for the homeschooling community and you could already see the rush to sell out. But see how dispensable God is in these folks’ worldview?

But more interesting than this, when I tried simply asking someone on the Memoria Press Facebook group to confirm that the community was seeing an influx of secular homeschoolers and that was probably a source of division, the administrators banned my comment (really big supporters of free speech over there, so much western civilization-ing happening). Why? Because they thought my comment was intended to sow controversy.

Here is the (functionally illiterate, I might add) response I received from Memoria Press administrators:

They don’t actually want Christian homeschoolers to know they have a godless subsidiary, and that, no, they don’t actually think teaching children about God is essential. That’s their idea of controversy. Let that sink in.

You might see that and decide to take your money to a publisher that does.

I had $1,000 of items in my cart at Memoria Press when I had this Facebook exchange. You can see from my screenshots that I am buying my content from a publisher that is not embarrassed of whom they serve.

At some point, the school choice advocates become the public school advocates they loathe, and for the same reason – money.

This is a period of time when the wheat are being separated from the chaff. When folks tell you who they are, pay attention.

8 thoughts on “How “Christian” homeschooling publishers like Memoria Press are selling out during the school choice boom

  1. Amen to your article. I wasn’t aware of this “shadow” aspect of Memoria, but I know someone who taught at their online school for some years, and she was forbidden to speak of anything religious. Also, there’s kind of a tradition in many online Christian schools of praying at the opening of each class (although I personally do not in my school, for other reasons), and they forbad that. My family and I knew the theologian and homeschool advocate/witness Rousas J. Rushdoony, and he predicted that if the charter schools became a reality, the Christian schools would die out. Well, we’ve already seen that to a large degree in brick and mortar schools. Now — looks like it’s moving into online schools.

    Every year I have parents who would like me to sign up as a vendor for their various charter schools. I have not done that. Sometimes the charter schools will still refund the parents the tuition for my school, for reasons I’m not clear about since those who know of my courses know my worldview. I also know others who’ve been in charge of charter schools who have played fast and loose with coursework, encouraging parents to lie about what curriculum they use in order to get approved to their school. So in the end, it all comes down to the “numbers.”

    Yes, the wheat from the chaff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is all very enlightening. I have learned so much in the last 24 hours. It does seem that charter schools are more an alternative to private schools than an alternative to public schools. They are cannibalizing families that were going to a choose a private option already, but they get to collect economic rent and others don’t.

      I have always distrusted charter schools because they tend to be someone’s vanity project. From my days following the bond market, I would read the prospectus for each new charter school deal, and there were always disclosures to investors about inside dealing (meaning the people who were making money off the deal were personally connected to the operators of the charter school – i.e. the operators were using the public investment to enrich their cronies). It was seriously in every single deal! We are talking about really low ethical standards. After that, I would never consider that as an option for our daughter. I have to say, watching Memoria Press’s unethical (IMO) dealings, my sense of the industry has not changed.

      For the longest time, I have wondered why vouchers never were enacted on a universal scale in states where conservatives controlled all branches of government and could get them done overnight if they wanted. I get it now. Homeschoolers aren’t competing with public schools, no matter what the political chatter indicates. This isn’t about homeschoolers at all. It’s a battle between other private options that are operated by rent-seeking personalities. It’s taking a lot of effort on my part not to be completely consumed with rage over the corruption in school choice circles sometimes. Our lives could be so easy without this BS, and without the totally manufactured pedagogical culture wars to push worksheets.

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      1. It’s just a low bar to do better than public schools, and you can hit that simply by being selective in whom you admit. Boom, there are your test scores.

        You know what else really, really irks me about this episode? There are a lot of Christian homeschooling mothers out there baring their souls in these groups upon the false belief that they are in sympathetic company. Instead, they are in many ways doing this before an audience of people who legitimately hate their lifestyle. Would it not change someone’s behavior if they knew they were sharing their personal information – about their children, about their daily performance – with people who weren’t even homeschoolers and did not share their values? I absolutely think it would.

        At the end of the day, folks like the ones at Memoria Press are not all that different than the critical race theory or Common Core crowd. What they want is to use ideology just long enough to capture a stream of taxpayer dollars.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, by the way, speaking of buying books… I finally stopped into Sandman Books and talked to your daughter! I have been meaning to do a write-up of our experience because it is such an awesome store. I took many great pictures of their book art, lol. I really do appreciate the wonderful job they have done curating books, especially high-quality children’s books.

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  2. Ok, totally right, “a low bar”!!! Also your point about the parents pouring their hearts out – they make many “assumptions” about these schools and their administrators which are simply incorrect. I think Memoria Press might be an even worse case because I think she did start out with a Christian outlook. Of course– who knows– maybe it was always just kind of a marketing thing. I certainly learned that was the case for one company — after working for 5 years as an online teacher for a VERY well-known online school/publishing company. Not only were their motives self-serving, but I did find out once I got “in the inner circle” that they were plagiarists who threatened those they had stolen from, and in fact, hadn’t read or taught their materials to their own children.

    Glad you enjoyed the store! Thanks for letting me know!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a different conversation but I think that the “marketing” about “classical” education has caused the entire conversation to be dumbed down. It began with Doug Wilson’s “Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning” but — sort of exploded after that, as people trying to give their children a better education than they had grabbed at anything that sounded like it was the real deal. Just — an addendum.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 😳 I can’t even ! You can’t serve God and mammon . And that reply was obviously a non-English speaker . So they’re outsourcing social media support?! Hope you can find your school items elsewhere.

    Liked by 2 people

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