co-op organization questions

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Location: Massachusetts

co-op organization questions

Postby Christinethecurious » Tue Aug 15, 2006 8:20 am

Hi All,

I've sent this letter to the Yahoo groups co-op ed, and Christian Homeschool leadership. I'd appreciate any resources you could refer me too. I've also read the Home Education Magazine notes on co-oping, just so you know what I've already looked at before you suggest I go somewhere.

My co-op is nearly larger than the Sunday School that meets in our host church's building. I have a bunch of questions for you about what steps I should suggest to our members so that we take care of our civic duties, and don't get sloppy. I want to know the reasons for doing thing before doing them, not just do them because they are in Roberts Rules of Order.

Last year I became the co-coordinator of our homeschool co-op. I joke that as the only one who is actually a member of the church were we meet, I'm the only one with a key.

We are a Protestant Christian co-op, but rather basic on our requirements for joining, families recommend friends, we let prospective members know that they must be Christian and wait a while before handing out big teaching assignments. We are sort of like an overgrown informal co-op, we were 8 families to begin with, now we are about 27. I've heard the advice to split once a group grows too big, but we want to see what happens.

About statements of faith and member requirements, the reasons I've heard for being pickyer is the hope that people will get along better if they agree theologically, and that no one wants evolution (or heresy!) taught. I think that if we don't obey the Lord's instructions in Matthew 18 we are up a creek even if we do agree on every little detail, and so we remind everyone to be charitable about fringe matters, and to be quick to make peace. Since we get to know people before letting them be the lead teachers, I think that covers heresy. Have we solved the problem? I am capable of asking people to leave if they won't abide by this, is there another reason to have statements of faith? None of our charismatics are demanding tongues of the children, none of our dispensationals insist on their take on end times, and our Arminians and reform people get along just fine too. We could print out the apostle's creed or something.

Are there other reasons? Mary Pride mentioned in her latest getting started in Homeschooling book that opening the doors to secularists will loose you the freedom to pray or not teach evolution, any other reasons? I honestly haven't met any secular homeschooler that would want to join us. For some reason we are scary. It is annoying to meet a nice person in the playground who says, "excuse me, I noticed your son's age, do you homeschool? I'd like to know how..." and not be able to invite them to join us if they are Catholic, or Jewish, or not religious. But as my Mother reminds me, it's not like we are preaching the gospel, we're just teaching pre-algera and playing math and art games - I can always invite them to dinner or church!

We are very careful to follow our host church's propriety guild lines for 2 adults in a classroom, and fire code. We have a co-coordinator, treasurer, and librarian. Curriculum and staffing decisions are made corporately (with the threat that I will volunteer people if they don't speak up, so they do volunteer to have some choice in the matter). The treasurer is so careful that she has put her own money in the kitty when she found a discrepancy. If we had a second person audit the books, would we increase her workload? How could we be any safer since her integrity is above reproach?

We have a kitty to pay off books that we buy, to give a gift to the church every year, to repay teachers for craft materials and photocopying expenses. It also motivates some of our members to come out if they have already paid up. Should we do anything else about the money? Does having a kitty obligate us to pay taxes? We have not incorporated in any form.

Some of my church members were concerned last year that our group did not have a board, least we hurt the reputation of the church or be a liability because of impropriety. If we did incorporate and have a board, how do we go about doing this? When I searched the library, all the books on volunteer organizations assumed that they already existed, do you have a recommended resource? We have been observed by the pastor and some deacons over the course of the year that I've co-ordinated, and we've been commended for our orderliness and professionalism. So I think that we are accountable enough to each other for the original concerns. Have we solved the problem of accountability? Do we need a board?

I have enough paperwork as it is. I don't want to smirch anyone's name by skipping steps, but I don't want unnecessary complications either. Thanks for your time and suggestions!


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Re: co-op organization questions

Postby Theodore » Tue Aug 15, 2006 1:32 pm

Some co-ops require a statement of faith, others don't, but most are Christian-based at least to the extent that they follow a moral code of conduct. It is theoretically possible to teach almost all courses without going into the whole question of Creation vs evolution, but you can't really compromise much on the natural sciences. Anyone who wants those courses and doesn't agree with your viewpoint will just have to make a decision on whether to stick with you or not.

The reason for having a board is to speed up decision-making. The board is always an elected body, so it's still hopefully representative of the co-op as a whole in terms of focus, but people who want a decision on something minor only have to talk to one or two people instead of the whole group. Major decisions are usually put to a group vote anyway.

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