Some handy and interesting homeschooling links

From Homeschooling Again – these are directed at Florida homeschoolers specifically, but could also be helpful to all homeschoolers:

Writing Course Descriptions: What Are They? Why Keep Them?

High School Graduation

Graduation Documents

How Are High School Credits Determined?

NPR recently had a program How Should We Regulate Homeschooling? Sadly, they featured an anti-homeschooling activist group, who call themselves the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, and described them as “policy advocates.” They are policy advocates regarding homeschooling as much as the public school teachers’ unions are. Kerry McDonald, author of Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom, published a rebuttal at the Foundation for Economic Education, “We” Should Not Regulate Homeschooling, making the obvious point that parents and guardians understand what’s best for their children and are their children’s best education advocates.

One of these days, I am going to drop my basket on the topic of homeschooling (and private school) laws and regulations and the role of bad actors in legislation generally.

African-American spirituals – educational resources for kids

This is a follow-up to my earlier post, Searching for an educational resource on African-American spirituals. Our homeschooled daughter will be studying American history this year, and I am gathering folk music to pair with our daily lessons. (See our curriculum here.)

I did end up finding several very good books (with accompanying CDs) on spirituals to share. I am posting the Amazon links, so you can read summaries and reviews there. I am delighted to have found music not only from the period of slavery, but from Emancipation and the Civil Rights Era as well. (And I threw in some other related books and websites.)

No Man Can Hinder Me: The Journey from Slavery to Emancipation Through Song

No More!: Stories and Songs of Slave Resistance

Free at Last!: Stories and Songs of Emancipation

Nobody Gonna Turn Me ‘Round: Stories and Songs of the Civil Rights Movement

The People Could Fly: American Black Folk Tales

Many Thousand Gone: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom

The Story Of Ruby Bridges

Websites:

African=American Spirituals – Beth’s Notes

The Spirituals Database

Hidden Messages in Spirituals – PBS

Slave Songbook : Origin of the Negro Spiritual (YouTube)

African American Music from the Civil War Era (YouTube)

Blues as Protest – Library of Congress

Searching for an educational resource on African-American spirituals

No luck in finding Finn McCool today, but we are hoping he’ll materialize to sun himself at some point. Many thanks to everyone who expressed concern. Elise is still very sad her lizard ran away and it’s heartbreaking.

My mother was asking me last night about the homeschooling curriculum that we will be using for 4th grade. I explained that since we are going to be studying American history for the first time, I am trying to bring American history into the other subjects as well.

I picked novels that involve American history in some way, including The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison, Prairie School, The Courage of Sarah Noble, The Terrible Wave, and Blue Willow. (Before anyone suggests Laura Ingalls Wilder, we are already big Little House fans.)

For art and music, I have found some books and resources on American folk art and folk music. I bought American Folk Art for Kids With 21 Activities. I have collected books on American artists like Grandma Moses and the Hudson River School. For folk music, I have Wee Sing America and Wee Sing Fun ‘n’ Folk. I think I am close to having enough folk songs to introduce a new one every day, and to stack them close the era during which they were composed (Revolutionary War, Civil War, Great Depression, etc.).

My mother thought that was a brilliant idea, and asked if any of the resources I found included African-American spirituals. It occurred to me that was a big part of American music history that was overlooked in these books and we obviously need to do an entire unit on it.

So now I am on a quest to find a good kids’ resource that goes through African-American spirituals. I am especially looking for any resource that involves decoding spirituals that were used by slaves to communicate details about the Underground Railroad. If anyone out there knows of any good resources – they don’t have to be specifically directed at children, but they do need to be relatively accessible – on this topic, I would be most grateful for suggestions.

I did find this PBS unit on Hidden Messages in Spirituals. The site even includes a worksheet for decoding the lyrics of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” But I think it would be cool to find something that goes beyond that one song because it’s such an important topic.

I have also amassed a lot of resources for teaching about a variety of Native American cultures. It’s impossible to be exhaustive on this topic, but a combination of History Pockets and the If You Lived When… series are a good foundation for more detailed study in later years.

I found More Than Moccasins: A Kid’s Activity Guide to Traditional North American Indian Life, which will supply a lot of arts and crafts projects. I have a whole bunch of books on Native American history and legends, but that’s worthy of an entire post in itself at some point.

A homeschooling botany program (fun for curious adults too)

I have set aside a few books for studying botany with Elise (which I may or may not include in the upcoming academic year). As much as I love specimen gardening, this should be a mutually enjoyable unit for us.

As spines, I expect to use Botany in 8 Lessons and the Botany Coloring Book.

But this afternoon, I found myself strangely immersed in Carolyn Fry’s book, The Plant Hunters: The Adventures of the World’s Greatest Botanical Explorers. I am definitely going to work this history book into our botany unit.

We take it for granted now that our nurseries and garden centers have plants from all over the world available to buy. In our Florida garden, I have tropical plants from Indonesia, India, Africa, South America, you name it.

This book describes all of the historical expeditions that led to plants being brought back from all of these regions, often at tremendous personal risk. These would be plants used in medicine, spices, and just interesting and beautiful specimens desired for extravagant gardens and scientific study. The book also includes portfolio inserts that are reproductions of historical texts and drawings of plants from each period.

I feel like the fact that we have many of these plants in these stories growing in our gardens at home should make the historical information a lot more interesting to a child. Although these folks were all serious adventurers, so the content is not exactly dry.

Topics include:

  • Queen Hatshepsut funding explorations to recover incense trees and other plants (although not mentioned in the book, some of these plants were used to manufacture the chemicals used in mummification, another fun topic for kids)
  • Ancient Egyptian pharmacists
  • The origins of agriculture
  • How pepper, nutmeg, mace, sandalwood, cinnamon, and clove drove exploration
  • The development of physic gardens in England for cultivating herbs used in medicine (Nicolas Culpeper)
  • Carolus Clusius and Tulipmania (also a great lesson for discussing financial bubbles, not unlike stock market or real estate crashes)
  • The elder and younger John Tradescants, the first professional plant hunters
  • The gardening craze in 18th-century Europe, which led to the construction of massive formal and specimen gardens among royals and aristocrats (also pretty cool on this topic – Monty Don’s BBC documentaries on famous gardens in Italy and France)
  • Carl Linnaeus
  • Sir Joseph Banks and how the search for breadfruit as cheap nutrition for slaves led to the mutiny on the Bounty; Banks’ Florilegium
  • Alexander von Humboldt
  • Expeditions into the Amazon
  • Carl Per Thunberg
  • Lewis and Clark’s specimen-collecting
  • David Douglas
  • Joseph Hooker in the Himalaya
  • E. H. Wilson’s expeditions in the Orient, which brought us azaleas and clematis
  • The cultivation of sugar cane in the Caribbean and the slave trade there
  • The East India Company and the opium wars
  • How the cultivation of plants in certain regions contributed to colonialism
  • Robert Fortune and the cultivation of tea
  • The search for plants to use for rubber (could also talk about Thomas Edison’s home gardens – in addition to beauty, he was personally trying to cultivate plants that could be used for rubber and testing their attributes)
  • Orchid hunters
  • The illustration of new plant species as an art form (Codex Vindobonensis, Highgrove Florilegium)
  • Invaders of the plant world and the historical origins of conservation efforts
  • Modern plant hunters

Another fun and loosely related topic would be floriography, or the language of flowers. I am looking for a good children’s book (or very accessible adult non-fiction) on the history of floriography. I started thinking about including this after some Love Lies Bleeding (amaranth) seeds I had ordered arrived in the mail. This plant, a grain, is native to Central and South America and was used as a regular food source for Aztecs. (It was also used in religious rites, particularly one where the Aztecs would fashion little dough figurines of their gods and then eat them. The Spanish Conquistadors banned the practice, as it seemed like a twisted version of the Eucharist.) Anyway, amaranth has beautiful red-pink plumes and came to symbolize hopeless love for Victorians. I fell into a floriography rabbit hole trying to find out how it got such a gory common name and thought, man, I need to incorporate this into some random homeschooling unit sometime. If not botany, there’s always Shakespeare.

What I am reading these days (a lot of history!)

I asked for a bunch of history books for Christmas (in addition to the world’s coolest garden hose) and received quite a haul.

My favorite periods of history are the ancient Greek and Roman worlds. I already had the Landmark Thucydides, but wanted the entire collection. So my husband gave me the Landmark Herodotus, Landmark Xenophon’s Hellenika, Landmark Arrian Campaigns of Alexander, and my in-laws gave me the Landmark Julius Caesar. These are going to keep me busy for a while! I love having resources like this around the house for when Elise gets older too.

Before the holidays, I started two books that I would highly recommend. The first is Victor Davis Hanson’s A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War. The second is Philip Matyszak’s Sparta: Rise of a Warrior Nation.

(I love Sparta and stories about Sparta. When I was younger and in far better shape, I used to participate in endurance sports, especially running. I’d have my husband drop me off in a nearby town with a CamelBak of Powerade and a credit card in case I needed food, and I would then spend all day running back home. No joke, it was nuts. Anyway, we had many inside jokes about Sparta during those days. When we were buying a new house, we had a meet-and-greet with our real estate agent, who asked in a very chipper voice, “And what kind of neighborhood do see as your ideal place to live? I just want a vision of what you are going for.” To which my husband replied, “Her ideal neighborhood is ancient Sparta. Do you have any properties there?” I can only imagine what personality category our realtor put us into.)

My husband also gave me Cicero’s On Living and Dying Well.

I recently read an outstanding biography on Cicero by Anthony Everitt, Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician. I would highly recommend it in general, but particularly to any cultural conservatives out there who are worried about how our social institutions are going to hell. Cicero experienced many similar events during the Roman civil wars that played out during his boyhood. He retreated to his family’s country home and spent all of his time preparing himself for a political career once life in the city sorted itself out. He studied history, the law, and rhetoric intensely and avoided getting into trouble with the increasingly mad crowds. This strategy served him very well, obviously.

One of my all-time favorite writers is Plutarch. I have been working my way through Plutarch’s Essays lately (see my earlier post, Do you hear what I hear?) My husband gave me copies of Plutarch’s Makers of Rome, Rome in Crisis, The Age of Alexander, and On Sparta. I really love the Penguin Classics editions of these books, as the translation is very clear and enjoyable, as Plutarch was meant to be read.

Also in the stack is the Complete Sophocles, Volume I and Volume II.

Somewhat related to all of this, I find it incredible the books that public libraries are getting rid of these days. Our library here has a bookshelf in the foyer of books that anyone can take and keep for free, as many as you like. I have found the most unbelievable books there. And it’s not like the library is throwing most of them out because they already have the books on their shelves and do not want duplicates (though that is certainly the case for some of them). They simply don’t want to keep them on their shelves.

I picked up five books from Harvard University Press’ series on antiquity, Early Greece, The Hellenistic World, Democracy in Classical Greece, The Roman Republic, and the Later Roman Empire. I also found hardback copies of Kennedy’s Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945 (part of Oxford University Press’ incredible History of the United States series) and Edmund Morris’ Theodore Rex. And a copy of the Bhagavad Gita. And The Penguin Opera Guide, M. Owen Lee’s The Operagoer’s Guide: One Hundred Stories and Commentaries, and The Metropolitan Opera Encyclopedia. I plan to use those books for a homeschooling unit on opera at some point.

The library was throwing out all of those extraordinary books. I don’t know what to think about what is happening at public libraries these days, to be honest. They exist to serve the interests of taxpayers and to provide a place for the community to gather. If ordinary people are legitimately uninterested in reading content like this, maybe libraries should stuff their shelves with mindless crap that they do want to read. At least they are keeping people basically literate, right?

I do sort of fear, however, that we are watching a new battleground in the culture wars play out. Many professional associations of librarians have been taken over by left-wing political activists (just take a look at what they are posting on their Twitter pages, and the fact that some libraries now host events like Drag Queen Story Hour). The children’s library where we lived before moving to Florida was unusable, as the shelves were fully stocked with identity politics-oriented fare instead of quality children’s non-fiction. (I’ve always found it amusing that books written by political actors tend to be written at an early elementary reading level. There is quite seriously nothing to be gained from consuming such nonsense, except perhaps some bizarre emotional catharsis.) So perhaps that is what I am seeing here, too, such that Harvard’s series on Ancient Greece and Rome is destined for the dumpster. If so, what a shame.

At any rate, if you are looking for a way to build your personal library on the cheap, I highly recommend checking out what your local library is tossing. There are some treasures in there.

As our DD7 is going to be studying American history in the upcoming academic year, I thought I would get back into American history for a while.

I like for my own pleasure reading to overlap with what she is studying. It helps me to make our lessons more interesting if I have engaging stories and digressions from the period to share with her that are not in her own books. A sort of educational synergy if you will. It also sends the message to her that I am not being compelled to study this topic, but I am still delighted to learn about it and find it fascinating. It reinforces the notion that education is not something with a state-mandated beginning and end, but the project of a lifetime.

(For more observations along those lines, see my earlier post, Modeling being a lifelong learner for your children.)

To that end, I am going to be reading soon Down the Santa Fe trail and into Mexico: The Diary of Susan Shelby Magoffin 1846-1847 and Hampton Sides’ Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West.

Traditional vs symbolic logic: homeschoolers need them BOTH

When we first started homeschooling our daughter, our affinity toward classical education programs was clear. Choosing a curriculum, however, was less straightforward.

The first curriculum provider we chose to work with was Memoria Press. Memoria Press is based out of Louisville, Kentucky, and operates classical schools out of local churches around the country. We ended up dropping it in the middle of first grade, and I mostly regard purchasing their materials as an expensive mistake.

Memoria Press’ idea of teaching grammar is to have young children write out the rules of grammar over and over and over again. Then they get to recite them. It is the same way with Latin, though at least with their early books children can learn the Latin Mass. It is a brilliant way to make your child hate doing school work to the point of tears.

But the worst aspect of their curriculum was that their math and science education was virtually non-existent. In fact, I would say their math curriculum is actually below the standards found in public schools. That’s kind of difficult to achieve.

This is a problem that I have noticed with a lot of classical and Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, however. They love teaching literature, poetry, and history. They hate teaching math and higher levels of science. Thus, most of them ignore math and long for the days when they can read The Screwtape Letters as a family. That’s no way to prepare your child to thrive in a thoroughly modern world.

At any rate, I still receive Memoria Press’ catalogs and find great humor in reading the articles they publish. The latest has an article on teaching logic that I feel compelled to share with readers here.

In Logic Is Not Math, Martin Cothran offers a polemic suggesting logic is a “language art” unrelated to the field of mathematics. It torments him, he confesses,. that so many publishers include logic materials under their math section. He blames those dastardly logical positivists for this unfortunate development. According to Cothran, symbolic logic did not exist until the early 20th century, when it was invented by Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead.

As someone who studied philosophy in both my undergraduate and graduate years and aced both traditional and advanced symbolic logic, this article had me rolling. It reinforced for me that we made a good decision about what curriculum to use for our daughter. I cannot intellectually process someone claiming that mathematical logic is of no use for children, except if you really, really, really suck at every STEM field and want an excuse for why you are not prepared to provide such an education.

From Cothran’s piece:

The question I want to ask and answer here is this: If logic is not math, then what is it? The answer is that logic is a language art. It is the study of right reasoning. I cannot stress this point strongly enough. For classical educators, this point is absolutely crucial because it will determine the very makeup of the curriculum.

In the old listing of the liberal arts, there were two basic classes of subjects: the three language arts (the trivium) and the four math arts (the quadrivium). Logic was always considered to be the second of the language subjects, after grammar and before rhetoric.

Grammar is the prerequisite for logic, since the ability to argue and reason rightly assumes the ability to communicate competently. And logic is the prerequisite for rhetoric, since logic is one of the three persuasive appeals: to the will (ethos—the appeal to the speaker’s character), to the imagination (pathos—the appeal to the audience’s emotions), and to the intellect (logos—the appeal to truth).

In fact, modern symbolic logic is the creation of modern philosophers (such as Bertrand Russell) and didn’t even exist until the turn of the twentieth century. Russell and Alfred North Whitehead wrote a book called Principia Mathematica that attempted to create a logical calculus that could be used to solve scientific problems. To this was added “truth tables,” a procedure that purported to be able to resolve any meaningful statement into a set of symbols and determine its truth value.

This was at a time when philosophers in the English world were experiencing science envy. They wanted their discipline to have the same objectivity and accuracy as the hard sciences. For these people Principia Mathematica became a sort of totem, and for many years it was required reading for English and American philosophy students. This was, of course, a daunting task, since most students were not mathematically sophisticated (or patient) enough to even understand the book, with its complex technical formulas and turgid explanations.

It helped give rise to the school of philosophy known as “logical positivism,” which claimed that the only meaningful statements were statements which could be scientifically verified, a belief that persisted into the late twentieth century. But the close connection between modern logic and philosophical positivism has turned into something of a curse given the steep fall of positivism since the late twentieth century.

Logical positivism was in one sense a victim of its own criterion. Its adherents believed that there were only two kinds of meaningful statements: logical statements that were true by definition (the ones we see in modern logic) and factual statements that could be empirically verified. Statements that were neither logical nor factual (like the statement “God exists,” which is neither true by definition nor empirically verifiable) were dismissed as meaningless.

But the central criterion of logical positivism does not meet its own criterion. The statement “There were only two kinds of meaningful statements: logical statements and factual statements” is neither a logical nor a factual statement, and is therefore meaningless.

As these and other issues arose inside and outside the movement, confidence in the movement began to erode, and, along with it, the original basis for modern logic.

What a bunch of poppycock.

Symbolic logic is not dead. In fact, it is thriving. Anyone who has been well trained in symbolic logic can easily learn any programming language they want. It is the single best preparation there is for landing a gig in the technology industry and breaking into the top 1% of earners in this country. The operating system of your computer, the apps you use on your phone, all of it, are constructed using the principles of symbolic logic. Do you think these operations work because the system is an accurate way of describing what is true and consistent?

Symbolic logic has not been some strange form of entertainment in the modern world. It physically built the modern world. It is the functional expression of intelligence.

It’s also not factually accurate to suggest that mathematical logic was “invented” by Brits in the 20th century. Elaborate systems of logic emerged across the millennia in the Far East, Greece, and in the Islamic world. It was the latter that gave the world mathematical logic, although the Greeks did use predicate logic to some extent in their work. It’s kind of hard to argue that symbolic logic was foreign to them. The Greeks loved the idea of proof.

It hardly took until the 20th century for mathematical logic to reach Europe, either. Leibniz, Lambert, Boole, De Morgan, Peacock, Peirce, and Frege all predated Russell and Whitehead.

Studying logic involves a lot more than merely knowing what ad hominem means. Thinking logically is not equivalent to being persuasive. It is the structural ordering and manipulation of ideas. It involves being able to test and prove concepts.

I think it is fine to suggest that children should study traditional logic during their K-12 years and save symbolic logic for college if their parent is not willing or able to teach it. But that’s not ideal. Teaching symbolic logic and math together is ideal. Beyond that, symbolic logic will likely improve your child’s ordinary quantitative reasoning skills. It’s certainly an odd prejudice to suggest that symbolic logic should be ignored because we are past its alleged decline and fall.

Atheists' bizarre obsession with Classical Conversations

This past week, The Federalist (a conservative/libertarian-leaning website) published a piece about Classical Conversations’ on-going harassment by atheist trolls that sort of freaked me out.

First, some background on Classical Conversations.

Classical Conversations is a popular curriculum arrangement with classical homeschoolers. Classical homeschoolers focus their studies on the western canon and teach their kids Latin and/or Greek. It is my understanding that the Classical Conversations program has over 100,000 homeschooled students enrolled.

The program has a “co-op” structure, meaning it consists of small groups of homeschoolers that meet – usually at a local church – for traditional classroom instruction and group projects every week. The remainder of the kids’ education takes place at home.

A financial/business structure has evolved to make these activities possible:

Some host facilities are financially compensated for maintenance costs associated with hosting a CC homeschool community. Communities are overseen by a CC-licensed director (an adult CC family member). Children break into age-appropriate learning groups each led by a qualified parent tutor, where they recount lessons of the previous week and learn new concepts to be studied at home. During the rest of the week, parents have sole responsibility for their child’s use of CC materials.

Each family pays the campus director for each child depending on the child’s developmental stage, to cover facility maintenance, instructional supplies, and tutor costs. Although curriculum and supplementary, CC-copyrighted materials are sold on the CC website, families purchase these directly as needed or desired.

Classical Conversations is not without its critics in the homeschooling community (to the extent such a thing even exists – homeschoolers are hardly a monolithic group anymore). In fact, many homeschoolers who subscribe to the classical education philosophy do not like the program. Most of the complaints I have heard about the program pertain to the curriculum authors’ rigid “our way or the highway” attitude. That is, you have to use their materials and follow their system exactly. It’s basically an education franchise attempting to guarantee a uniform experience.

Although we are classical homeschoolers, I never seriously considered Classical Conversations for this reason when we lived in an area with a CC group. I like homeschooling because it gives us the flexibility to choose the very best content for every subject and content that would appeal to our daughter specifically. While I like the socialization aspect of co-ops, I doubt I could ever trust another homeschooling parent to teach our daughter. It’s just not my style. But it doesn’t bother me that other families do choose to use this model, much like some families choose to send their children to university model schools. What works for one family may not work for another – that’s the beauty of school choice.

So back to The Federalist article. I had heard over the past few years about churches that were receiving threatening letters for hosting Classical Conversations groups. But I had no idea how pervasive and downright creepy it was:

Robert Bortins, CEO of Classical Conversations, said he became aware of two versions of an anonymous letter that were claimed to have been sent to “approximately 2500 host churches” nationwide in early 2019. Both letters began with the salutation, “Dear Church.” The first closed, “Former CC Families,” the second, “Concerned Christian Citizens.” (An organization named Concerned Christian Citizens sent an official statement to Bortins reporting that they not only did not send the letters, but expressly support both CC and its host churches.)

The first letter attempted an informational tone and contained internet addresses for a number of articles referencing ways various states regulate interactions between churches and for-profit businesses. A second letter sent several months later took a more strident tone. It identified the writers as “a group of Christian parents who are very concerned about the business practices of this company” and was accompanied by a “comprehensive list of issues that former Classical Conversations families have compiled.”

The four-page list documented nine “Issues With Classical Conversations,” which continued the tax-exempt theme, but added complaints about the culture of the organization and comments from its founder judged to be political “rhetoric.” Several of the complaints referred to a five-page anonymous blog post under the guise of a ‘product review.”

This blog, written by a person who “spent a year in Classical Conversations,” devoted many paragraphs to whether CC is “classical” or “neo-classical” in nature before charging it is “not an inexpensive program,” not Christian enough, too centered on memorization, and the structure was “inflexible and taxing for my family.”

In other words, the complaints at core don’t really seem to be about CC or any host church’s compliance with the law. That’s just a stick the letter writer (or writers) are using to beat up a company the writer dislikes, rather than just taking her business elsewhere and letting other people freely associate as they choose.

….

It’s clear after reading the blog post associated with the anonymous letters that the writer or writers have an ax to grind with CC and wish to use the threat of state action to coerce compliance with their philosophy of education. This isn’t a surprising situation. Too many people today seem perplexingly ill-equipped to dislike something without attempting to force others to dislike it too, and much of these fights hold both Christianity and education at their centers.

After receiving these letters, some church leaders have chosen to close their doors to CC programs they’ve hosted, in some cases for years, stranding enrolled homeschooling families. This is a more than inconvenient outcome that should not occur. Fortunately, some churches are inviting CC families back after additional research

It is hardly unprecedented to find people trying to weaponize the federal tax code or federal bureaucracy to injure Christian groups. Before Classical Conversations, something similar happened to Abeka (formerly A Beka Book), which produces high-quality, accredited educational materials for thousands of Christian private schools and homeschoolers. (Abeka materials are so top-notch that even a lot of secular homeschoolers use them. I can’t think of a better phonics and reading program in this country.)

Abeka was founded in the early 1970s and is affiliated with Pensacola Christian College in Florida. The publisher had tax-exempt status until 1996 because its profits were reinvested in the college. In 1995, Bill Clinton’s IRS determined the publisher could not maintain its tax-exempt status and, in fact, needed to pay nearly $50 million taxes retroactively on all of its earnings to that point. (Consider it a precursor to Obama’s IRS harassing Tea Party members, which ended up costing the US Treasury tens of millions of dollars in settled lawsuits.) It was an explicit attempt to put a popular Christian education program out of business for the sake of being Christian. It failed, as the university and publisher eventually raised the money.

The harassment by government agencies did not end there, however. In 2008, the University of California rejected Abeka courses for qualification to attend college there for literally no other reason than their education materials include introductory material situating the subject-matter in a Biblical context. Again, these are objectively high-quality materials academically, but they do mention God and that’s unforgivable to secular academics in California. This action resulted in a lawsuit, see Association of Christian Schools International v. Stearns. A federal judge and then the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals – a liberal stronghold before Trump became president – sided with the University of California.

The significance of that case is that it gave the University of California an opportunity to reject applicants that attended private Christian schools as this curriculum is used by most Christian schools – this amounts to millions of people nationally. The education materials were a useful proxy for religious discrimination. If you want to know why Christian universities are such big-money operations, this is why. It’s not difficult to fundraise in such an environment, where threats to religious liberty are quite real.

After reading The Federalist piece, I decided to do some research of my own into these Classical Conversations letters and what people were saying about the program online. It quickly turned into a rabbit hole of hate and bigotry. Some of these people clearly need professional help.

Among the strange folks I encountered was a blog devoted to hate-reading books by Christian authors. I can’t say I have ever seen a book club for reading books you don’t like so you can criticize and make fun of them, but apparently such a thing exists among atheist groups. They’ve turned hating Christian groups who likely don’t even know they exist into some twisted hobby.

I guess I should not be surprised such things exist, as Evangelicals in particular have seen a wave of religious defections where popular pastors and Christian writers have decided to denounce their faith and bash their former congregations for social media glory. Many of these sites complain about what they call “spiritual abuse,” which as far as I can tell is merely the experience of having belonged to a community one now disagrees with. These are the folks who seem to have some powerful but inexplicable obsession with Classical Conversations.

I thought about linking to them and posting screenshots so everyone could see the level of psycho behind this harassment, but then it occurred to me that these folks are probably quite dangerous in real life and I probably should not be inviting them to stalk me online.

I know many of these churches have shrugged off the letters, but having seen all these sites, I am not sure that’s a good idea. These are clearly disturbed people, and they should probably turn the letters over to law enforcement. They should probably also contact the Home School Legal Defense Association to evaluate what they can do to keep these people away from their congregations.