Wednesday, January 17, 2007

More Research on Linda Christas

It started out as a solitary blog entry, no more or less. However, because of frequent goading by supposedly Linda Christas' staff, volunteers and students, I have taken it upon myself to continue to perform research on this weird American enterprise.

This research has been slow going. There's not a lot of information out there and it's often incomplete. As I've reported here before, most of the names on the so-called Advisory Committee only pop up in Google in relation to Linda Christas. I certainly don't view this finding as very beneficial to the company image.

I recently discovered that one of the reasons I've had such a hard time getting a handle on this enterprise is that there is more than one Linda Christas incarnation. According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), there are 3 Linda Christas companies: Linda Christas Education Services (LCES) of Cloquet, MN; and 2 different listings for the Linda Christas College Fund (LCFC), one in Sacramento, CA and another in Santa Ana, CA.

According to the BBB of Minnesota & North Dakota, the owner of the LCES is Ms. Christine Dusek, MS, a name I can find nowhere on the Linda Christas website nor has it ever been mentioned in any of voluminous correspondence I've received from LC-connected people.

According to the BBB of Northeast California, the principal person is Ron Bernard. However, in an interesting twist, Ron Bernard is also the stated dean of the Linda Christas Academy which it appears is owned by LCES. Seems a little murky to me.

According to the BBB, the other LCCF has no principal person at all. However, it does give this incarnation of the LCCF a CC Rating. Their are 11 ratings from AAA - F. The CC Rating is the 4th lowest.

According to the Linda Christas website, the enterprise is a private not-for-profit organization. My research has revealed that this statement is not completely true. From the BBB of Northeast California:
According to information provided by the company, Linda Christas College Fund is a not-for-profit political action committee advocating improvement of educational opportunities for middle school and high school students. The organization's website also refers to Linda Christas Tutoring Services. This is operated for-profit and sells on-line coaching and tutoring services. The tutoring service also offers recruits money making opportunities as tutors or college advisors working for the company and offers a two day training program. The program is intended to prepare individuals to market and administer the Christas program to the public. [emphasis added]

I've found nothing on the Linda Christas website that even hints at the fact that the educational services are provided by a for-profit company and that the advocacy services are provided by a PAC (note: ALL political action committees are not-for-profit entities). I'm also a bit confused because there seems to be yet another entity -- Linda Christas Tutoring Services -- that is not listed at all with any of the BBBs.

This information answers for me a nagging question I've had for some time. Most educational organizations on the web use .edu. I always thought it was weird that Linda Christas only used .org and .com. Now, it is clear that they don't qualify as the kind of institution that could use .edu.

There's another issue I'm trying to nail down too, but it may be a while until I figure out how to find a complete answer. Linda Christas offers a full-time academy that offers programs "which satisfy the requirements of the most elite colleges in the United States."

However, as documented in my last entry on this overall topic, Linda Christas is NOT accredited by any of the accepted educational accreditation agencies (so they created one of their own). Consequently, if a student enrolls full-time at Linda Christas, do they receive a high school diploma AND, if so, is that diploma recognized by anyone other than Linda Christas?

**** Addendum ****
Since the Linda Christas College Fund advertises itself as a political action committee, I realized I could look them up. I performed searches with the Federal Elections Commission and the California Secretary of States Office. Guess what? Neither have ANY listings for a committee with the words, "Linda Christas". Not a one.

In order to be a political action committee, a group must register with some governmental entity. So, this begs the question: What entity, if any, is the Linda Christas College Fund registered with?

Just to be thorough, I also performed searches on the IRS Charities database and the Charities Search with California Attorney General's Office. Again, I found zero (0) results. Finally, I tried the GuideStar search engine which records information on over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations. As with all my previous attempts, there is no listing for Linda Christas.

Though I certainly won't argue this amounts to an exhaustive search, from what I've been able to discern at this point, the Linda Christas College Fund does NOT appear to be a political action committee NOR a nonprofit organization. My research has also indicated it is NOT an educational institution.

So, what are we left with? A for-profit business -- which is certainly NOT the way the LCCF present itself to the public.

**** ADDENDUM #2 ****
As quoted above, Linda Christas claims that their programs "satisfy the requirements of the most elite colleges in the United States." So, I decided to visit the websites of many elite institutions of higher learning to see what they had to say about this enterprise. I would expect there to be a few documents that mentioned the exploits of students who've been awarded scholarships by Linda Christas or collaborations with Linda Christas' staff on the development of said programs or, possibly, a recommendation or two about how the Linda Christas program might aid students in gaining admittance in this competitive world. Basically, I was looking for ANY mention of Linda Christas and its services.

As with every other search I've conducted on this topic, I came up with the big goose egg. Not one mention of any document or web page which featured the words, "Linda Christas". Not even a measly one.

The sites I checked are all Ivy League Schools (Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton & Yale), Stanford, MIT, Amherst, University of Chicago and Swathmore.

5 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your ongoing work regarding this very... interesting group. They continue to try and spam sites including Wikipedia, especially with content relating to their "chairs", and it's good to know that there is someone calmly, clearly, and consistently looking at their very ambitious claims.

    I wonder - they seem to have stopped spamming you directly, at least via this blog; do you continue to hear from LC reps in other ways?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Alex,
    I think it finally dawned on them -- heck, I had to point it out SEVERAL times -- that spamming the blog merely increased my ranking in Google. So now, they simply send me emails.

    In addition, a few days ago, they posted on their home page part of an email exchange I had with one of their minions. Of course, they cut and pasted my emails, removing most of the substantive points I'd made. They also include some text that wasn't part of any email I received.

    All this tells me is that I am indeed barking up the right tree.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well, I couldn't resist. I went and added my two cents on the new LC page and was startled to see they actually posted (and responded to, sort of) my questions.

    Apparently, no one in higher ed has ever made any kind of public statement regarding the company/companies, putative school, or the LC method; they as much as say so, even while alluding to the "Linda Christas magic" (perhaps it so hypnotizes educators, this sorcery, that it renders them incapable of comment?

    Oy. If I didn't think they were taking money from the credulous, I wouldn't mind, but somehow it only adds insult to injury that it's not even a very good scam...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Unfortunately, no tutor based program can be accredited by the US Department of Education.

    In other words, if you contact the US Department of Education, they will tell you is that they do not approve any "student based" program like Linda Christas.

    They only approve "syllabus based" programs.

    A good example of this is the movie Blind Side in which a football player needed a student based program (unaccredited) privately delivered to him in order to succeed at a "syllabus based" institution.

    Although that man's school enjoys US Department of Education recognition, he would have been lost without a student based program which cannot receive the standard recognition from Department of Ed to which you accurately refer..

    I would like to see you investigate the Department of Education's accreditation policies. I know Linda Christas has approached them many times in an effort to "sell" their student based program.

    The DOE says they are going to reform education every year, and yet any student based program is denied funds.

    Unless a program is imposed (syllabus based) without reference to the individual student's needs, it cannot receive the kind of accreditation you are speaking of here.

    Linda Christas tailors its programs to the individual, taking into account his or her maturity level, way he or she learns best (visual, tactile, etc), and most of all his or her interests. Meanwhile, DOE accredited programs have teachers walk into classrooms knowing nothing of the individual students (and not needing to know).

    Linda Christas has approached several States (had bills pending in Hawaii and Nevada) as well as the Department of Education begging for pilot funds, but in every case, funds have been denied because the power structure in America requires the status quo. There are too many people who have invested too much time preparing for the status quo, including the sole source accrediting agencies, to do anything different.

    Using a syllabus based program, the graduation rate in Cleveland where I live is now approximately 49%, but the money continues to flow from the DOE.

    Maybe you could use the TAOIST to help student based programs like Linda Christas to reform American education. I would love to see your great power (I mean that) look at helping a struggling organization like Linda Christas that is being accepted in China, Kenya, Nigeria and elsewhere, but cannot really do much in the US until we really get serious about education reform, referring to the student first, and then designing courses around the need.

    Linda Christas does it at much lower cost than the current system. The technology is there. It just needs support from people like you who know how to use the language, and research tools.

    Steven

    ReplyDelete
  5. Linda Christas programs put the student first, and relegate administrators to serving each student's individual needs. A complete analysis of each student is done using the Holland system before any teaching begins. All LC Academy teachers are credentialed through the States, but, again, no State will accredit Linda Christas because to do so would jeopardize federal funding, since LC does not teach to a standard that can be tested.

    The Linda Christas response to the challenge of not teaching to a standard at the high school level is: "Show me a standard student, and we will teach to a standard for that student."

    It is impossible to adopt curriculum from afar by an elected board and address the individual needs of kids.

    That's what Linda Christas has been saying since 1993 while the feds and state services continue to fail, costing untold damage to America;s future.

    It is amazing to me that everyone is "suspicious" of an innovator like Linda Christas, looking to DC for approval when DC is the entity keeping America way down the list of nations in terms of student accomplishment.

    If a person is "authority" oriented and looks to a body like the DOE recognized accrediting agencies for educational leadership all is lost, because leadership from those agencies just isn't there.

    They are still using an accrediting model based on the Prussian system.

    The formula we are still accrediting: "Have an "authority" adopt preplanned curriculum (Prussian military system), buy a million textbooks (Prussian used a manual), force teachers to teach to the textbook no matter who is sitting in front of them (great for soldiers but is that what we want), and call that an accredited education.

    Organizations like taoist really need to start being suspicious of authority in the face of forty years of the DOE destroying American education by not recognizing what will work with modern American youth.

    The system needs to change, and it can't so long as people are prone to approve only those efforts approved by authority.

    In this case, the authority has not and will not change.

    Unfortunately, Linda Christas must try to go it alone with no federal or state support.

    Just like with the Waldorf Schools, if Linda Christas accepted funds from either state or federal sources without a change in the top down "syllabus" model, it too would be immediately strangled.

    In my view, that's a crime.

    ReplyDelete

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