Friday, January 9, 2009

Voddie Baucham on Getting One's Ticket Punched, Round Two?

A few weeks ago, I mentioned a program called "College Plus!" that is endorsed, most notably, by Doug Phillips. From reviewing their website, I believe that one can easily ascertain that this program offers non-academic coaching to those who enroll in their program. They also offer a core curriculum in Christian Worldview, and I the books of at least one of the authors they use for this program line my own bookshelves. I supported Gary DeMar's ministry for many years until my husband and I withdrew support because Doug Phillips and Vision Forum products became ever more prominent in American Vision's publications. Though I do not agree with the recent direction that American Vision chose, I still find most of what Gary DeMar has authored to be very fine material.

I stated in that previous blog post that I myself have benefited greatly from distance learning programs in the past. I've also attended several secular schools including a local community college and other state universities over the years since obtaining my undergraduate degree. I stated that I am very happy to see Voddie Baucham's daughter challenging herself through enrollment in this College Plus! program which clearly states that, at this time, they direct their students to enroll in the distance learning program offered Thomas Edison State College (TESC). So when not studying the core curriculum provided by College Plus!, those students who are enrolled are actually studying non-Christian curriculum. And to clarify my understanding of all this, I did contact TESC to confirm my understanding of their program, and they did verify that my understanding was correct. I even mentioned in that previous post that I am a graduate of another college accredited by Middle States, the group that accredits TESC. I would like to state that if I failed to make this clear in my first post, I could not be more happy to see young women in patriocentric circles afforded this training.

I received this pleasant note from Shawn Cohen of College Plus! late this afternoon:


I recently noticed your post about Voddie Baucham, his daughter’s education, and CollegePlus! I’m glad you’ve taken the time to give your thoughts.

It was intriguing that your text seems to present CollegePlus! in a negative light even though you admit that your knowledge of CollegePlus! is limited. I’d like to know if you’d be interested in having some of your questions answered about the program. If so, I’d be more than happy to dialogue with you about the positive effect CollegePlus! has had on close to a thousand students nationwide since its inception in 2004.

I look forward to hearing from you, Cindy. Have a great weekend!

I would like to take this opportunity to clarify online with Mr. Cohen and everyone who may have read my previous post and failed to identify my germane point about the inconsistent messages communicated by the patriocentrists. Challenging the quality of the College Plus! program was not my intention at all, and I believe that I was actually complementary. I intended to draw attention to the contradictions in previous statements made by both Voddie Baucham and Doug Phillips concerning then necessity of college attendance (or lack thereof) for women as well as their support of a secular government established and supported school.

1. My only issue with the College Plus! information online: The website is clear about the fact that the core curriculum is presented from a Christian Worldview. It does not specifically point out that the coursework outside of this core curriculum would be secular, that is, unless a state college in New Jersey teaches their programs from a Christian Worldview. That is not a misstatement of fact, but it does capitalize upon the core curriculum component as Christian.

I don't think that this experience poses a threatening situation for someone well-versed in and prepared to defend their worldview, as I've found my classes in secular and even religious schools to be excellent opportunities to talk about and defend my Christian faith and the Gospel of Jesus Christ with valor. One learns to sharpen skills under such conditions. What I do find is that given the importance of the necessity for Christian curriculum in the homeschool setting, I think it is interesting and perhaps a bit deceptive that the site does not also specifically point out that the remaining coursework is secular. But that’s not to say that the core curriculum through College Plus! would not prepare those students sufficiently to counter the problems in the worldview perspective of the coursework, either.

I would also like to point out that there are Christian colleges that offer distance learning undergraduate programs, but they are cost prohibitive. For instance, in addition to distance learning programs offered by Liberty University, the Baker’s Guide website lists 172 additional ones (some of which may or may not include Liberty, as I did not examine the entire list). The programs offered through TESC or any other such distance learning programs now offered by all sorts of state schools charge dramatically lower tuition because they are subsidized by the states that sponsor them, and the distance learning market has become quite competitive.

2. Those within patriocentric circles generally reject any type of government subsidy and have even criticized organizations with not-for-profit status, even though I understand that Vision Forum Ministries holds this status. I know personally that Doug Phillips talked publicly about the virtues of rejecting not-for-profit status from several people who attended his seminars and his church. For this reason, I find it interesting that Doug Phillips recommends a program with what I assume is his full knowledge of the fact that the college degrees are granted by a state-subsidized school. This does offer the advantage of keeping costs low, but this is accomplished through a college established by the State of New Jersey.

Per the TECU Website:

Thomas Edison State College was established by the State of New Jersey and chartered by the New Jersey Board of Higher Education in 1972. The College was founded for the purpose of providing diverse and alternative methods of achieving a collegiate education of the highest quality for mature adults.

3. As noted in the previous post, both Doug Phillips and Voddie Baucham stated that Miss Baucham would not need to "have her ticket punched" at a university, but I've received several emails from people who know the Bauchams who are confused, claiming that this young woman is indeed enrolled in the program. Personally, as I have stated, I think this is wonderful for her. I meant to point out the discrepancy between Voddie Baucham's bold statements on the "Return of the Daughters" video, advocating against the necessity for and desirability for college itself for his daughter in particular and the fact that his daughter is now attending college (albeit through a distance learning program). The video does not advocate distance learning programs but argues against all college as a requirement established by the secular world that those in the church need not observe for their daughters.


So to reiterate, my criticisms involving the College Plus! program had very little to do with College Plus! itself but rather concerned the inconsistencies in the public statements of both Doug Phillips and Voddie Baucham concerning their strong convictions about secular education as inadequate (yet they advocate a secular program with only a portion of Christian Worldview material) and that Phillips has rejected government financial assistance of various types in many public speaking venues, particularly for educational programs (yet has advocated enrollment in a state school). But I am most curious about the fact that both Phillips and Baucham stated quite strongly that Miss Baucham did not need a college education to “have her ticket punched” in order to be meet the expectations of the secular society and because her abilities met a PhD standard (yet Miss Baucham has reportedly chosen to enroll in a college program, a choice that I actually wholeheartedly applaud).

I’m thrilled that so many students have been able to earn a college degree through such a credible program without accumulating a great deal of debt. Had such a program been available for my field of study, considering that I was 16 when I graduated from high school, I would have welcomed this type of option. I do not see how this reflects poorly on the College Plus! program itself. I believe that I've actually been highly complementary of the program, otherwise I certainly would never have mentioned that TESC and my own alma mater were accredited by the same organization. I invite the reader here who might have believed that I was actually insulting the program to reexamine the original post.