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In Beslan's Wake, Eastern Europeans Consider Home Schooling

  • Jim Brown and Jenni Parker Agape Press
  • 2004 26 Oct
In Beslan's Wake, Eastern Europeans Consider Home Schooling

October 27, 2004

More Russian families are turning to home schooling in the wake of the three-day Beslan school hostage crisis, during which armed attackers stormed a middle school and took more than a thousand parents, teachers, and children captive. The violent end to that siege left hundreds of hostages dead, and a devastated public desperate to ensure their own children's safety.

Since September 13 of this year, Calvert School in Baltimore, Maryland, has received more than 400 inquiries about its home schooling curriculum from families in Russia and other Eastern European countries. Founded in 1897, Calvert School is an independent, nonsectarian, pre-K through 8th grade school for boys and girls, and is also the first formal home-school curriculum provider in the U.S.

Calvert's president, Jean Halle, says Eastern European families learned about the Baltimore school through the Internet, and requests for information have come from Russia and other countries throughout the region, including Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Uzbekistan.

As these inquiries have poured in, the U.S. institution has had to adapt itself in order to try to accommodate the needs of a growing multi-national community.

"We've started to try and make contacts with people in the countries in question so we can understand their local regulations and be helpful to them," Halle explains. "We haven't yet determined how we can be of the most help to these families, but we're still investigating it."

The Maryland school administrator says the school has "made some connections with people who can translate some portions of the curriculum," and has also translated part of its website into Russian. The site also features the "Calvert International Connections" bulletin board, where faculty, parents and others can "chat" with one another. This is one of several ways the school is working to establish networks between Calvert, the foreign home school families, and other U.S. organizations or individuals that might have information or resources to contribute.

"What we're trying to do is to create a community of support for these families," Halle says. "So to the degree that there are domestic organizations that still have contacts to that region, we want to try and get them talking on our chat-boards to be helpful to folks in the former Soviet Union in terms of directions and about their experience here in the United States."

The head of Calvert School says its accredited home-education curriculum is appealing to the former Soviet Union countries because it is complete. Home-school families purchasing the Calvert resources receive all the textbooks, workbooks, supplies, and instructions they need, as well as placement testing and education counseling and support that are accessible by phone and e-mail.

American missionaries, diplomats, military staff, and other parents living overseas have used Calvert School's curriculum since 1906. As the Russian portion of Calvert's website notes, the Beslan school incident and other tragedies that have led many Eastern European families to seek out home-school materials are regrettable, and Halle says, "all of us are living in times we hoped never to imagine."

However, the U.S. educator adds that generations have considered the promise for a brighter future to be in their children, and Calvert School is honored to help parents around the world prepare their children for that future.


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© 2004 Agape Press.