Here are all of the Accelerated Christian Education/ School of Tomorrow survivor stories I’ve received on this blog. Since many of them have been buried way down in the comment threads of old posts, most of my readers will not have seen them. You’ll notice positive stories about ACE are rarer. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the tone of my blog, I don’t get many messages from ACE’s supporters.
I realise there are more here than anyone is likely to read in one go, but I want to leave them here in one place as a resource. The order is random.
I’d like to thank everyone who’s commented on this blog since I began. The standard of comment has been unbelievably high, and there are many comments not here that have really contributed to the discussion. Please keep giving me your thoughts.
Anti: David Seidell (via email)
I’m reading your blog at work and working my way through your earlier entries – it’s a very surreal experience for me.
I attended a private school in the US, and then was home schooled. It wasn’t until I started the 8th grade (age 11 or 12) that I moved to a public school. Both the private school and my education at home used ACE curriculum.
I had no idea that ACE schools were so widespread, and believed my experience was unique. After a transitional period where I entered the public school system and had a hard time adjusting to how different things were, I put it all behind me and rarely, if ever, thought about it.
I remember the ‘cubicles’ and the partitions. I remember raising the Christian flag when I had a question. I remember the character Ace, and his cartoon friends. I remember taking the speed reading tests. I remember being surprised, once I started attending public school, at how early other kids had learned things like long division, or how little they knew about Biblical history (clearly the only history that mattered, as I knew very little about presidents or American history, and almost nothing of world history).
I’ve identified as an atheist for some time now, and religion matters very little to me. After reading through some entries on your blog, though, I want to look for the materials I used in school. I am sure my mom still has them, and it would be very interesting to look through them now with a different perspective.
I can’t blame the ACE curriculum for all of the problems I had attending public school. (My poor socialization, my religion and a heavy-handed arrogance were all part of it too.) I do know, though, that if the education I received had been more well-rounded and focused on critical thinking rather than a bizarre mangling of facts, I would not have been so confused or offended by the things taken for granted at the public school.
Anyway, thank you for taking the time to read my rambling message. The point of this was to thank you for putting so much effort into documenting and sharing your experience. You have certainly given me something to think about.
I attended a church/school in Soest, Holland (1979-1981) that used the A.C.E. curriculum. The curriculum was NOT my complaint; it was the atrocities inflicted on myself and the other students by the random psychopaths/sociopaths hired to operate the school. It was nothing more than a cult school run by sadistic control freaks who used fear, intimidation, witholding food, water, and bathroom breaks, humiliation, solitary confinement, after school detentions than ran as long as 7:00 – 8:00pm, NO extra-curricular activities, NO socializing. 8-9 hours a day were spent in a three-sided 2×2 cubicle with a light in it. The only way you could get “outside” communication was by raising a little flag and start praying to GOD that the freak in charge felt like answering flags that day. The irony of that “Blessed Education” is that when I FINALLY got out of it and graduated, I had no idea how to write a check, pay bills, or anything else of any REAL value. I am now almost 50, and am just now about to get my college education – up until now I wouldn’t set foot in a school. If you have any doubts about this, the “owners” of that school were Ken and Velda Black, and their minions were Bill and Linda Compton.
Pro: Anonymous (yes, he/she put “anonymous” in the name field)
So, to the author of this website – Your website is hilarious! LOL – I will give you that much! I would be ashamed if I were you… I am sure your parents raised you right, you just rebelled and turned your back on them and God in general, and are bitter and thus, created this website. It takes more faith to believe in a false THEORY of evolution rather than scientific FACTS. So, you can continue to illegally scan snippets of “booklets” (called PACEs) and you can continue to attempt to undermine, make fun of, and take copyrighted material out of context, that is up to you. However, I hope your spree is shortlived. I am an employee of Accelerated Chrisitan Education, in the copyright division. I can easily submit your website to the review of a lawyer, and you can be taken to court for copying our copyrighted material from our curriculum, ACE inc., and be punished to the fullest extent of the law. So, if I were you, I would watch what I post.
Have a great day, and God bless you!
I had the ACE curriculum from 1st through 8th grade, with a break for A Beka in 4th. I can’t even begin to tell you the ways that it has stunted my learning: from lack of a basic science knowledge to relying on rote memorization to pass tests. And yes, the other stuff, like the “Board of Education” [note: this is slang for the paddle, with which ACE students are spanked] makes me cringe even today (and it is been 25 years since I last was in an ACE classroom). I’m so glad you are posting this information in a readable, organized format. People need to know what their tax dollars are going toward and what fundamentalist kids are learning.
Pro: Samantha (a drive-by commenter, left a fake email address)
Apparently, you may have know someone or perhaps involved in the ACE program, but you have to be a part of it to see how much it has done for kids. Those coming from broken homes, those whose parents have no time to spend with them in helping them learning, those who haven’t the slightest idea of who God truly is, and has a result follow the rules of the world, and forgetting what he wrote in the Bible. Of cours you may, or may not be a child of God, but someone did create you, and someone did place Godly rules for us to follow. The program implements those rules, those taught many years ago, by parents who cared.
It is time of people like you to stop criticizing what good Christian schools are doing for children, and recognize that we are building strong believers in Christ. See for yourself, experience it for yourself, whether it is through the learning workshops or seminars, but with three children placed in its program none of my children have ever been paddled, for one I can do that myself, and two they need this type of discipline, structure to help them focus. The world already led us astray, why not implement a school that helps us retain our focus and what we lost many years ago, something that may perhaps better our children’s future.
You have put into words how I have felt about ACE for so many years. I went through the whole program from kindergarten through 12th grade (K-3 in a christian school and 4-12 at home). ACE has no value other than helping students to learn basic math and English, each of which are taught in rote learning style. Even after mastering these skills, I would still have to do more busy (PACE) work. I never was required to exercise higher order thinking or do any type of writing other than, like you said, short answer. I would have learned so much more if I had been taught in a kinesthetic style an accredited curriculum. I had saved one of my science PACES from high school-one all about how evolution isn’t possible and it can be proven false. I saw how rediculously unjustified this information was given as fact.
At the moment, I am completing my Master’s in Special Education–it has been a long road because of all of the wasted time in non-accredited programs (After graduation from high school, I was encouraged by my church to attend a christian college, also non-accredited–although I didn’t realize what the importance of accreditation was at the time because of being sheltered from EVERYTHING).
When I was 16, I remember begging my mother to send me to a public school–she said they were of the devil. I was required to attend an IFB church 3 times a week and was not allowed to wear pants, attend movies, or go to parties (other than church parties). I was told that if I went to public school, the kids would try to get me to do these bad things, as well as swear and do drugs. When I think about the brainwashing I went through, it is very difficult not to think bitter thoughts of: “what if” I had been allowed to think for myself and use reasoning back then–”What if” I had attended a real school that had science labs and regents programs that I know I would have passed with flying colors! I feel like I was in my mid 20′s when I finally became a “teenager” and did these things. I like your blog in that, you don’t sound like you are bitter about your ACE experience, although that may be because you have overcome that bitterness or learned to use it in constructive ways. You expose ACE for what it is: a simple, non-accredited, excuse for an education system that is used to promote chistian dogma.
Pro: Dreamer8700 (a compilation of many comments by this user starting here; this isn’t even all of it)
Jonny, am reading your website with interest. Just wondering why do you not rather concentrate your insight and expertise on changing the UK public school system which sadly has often been found guilty of child abuse (e.g. Nigel Leat Case in January 2012), was recorded in 2008 as having the highest level of bullying in Europe, and holds educational standards which are in a state of worrying decline (see OECD PISA rankings). At least the ACE curriculum offers parents an alternative to this very unattractive prospect for their children.
I was educated for a time using ACE, so I do have close connections with the program. I have since trained as a secondary school teacher, and am currently completing a masters thesis on Northern Irish politics, as well as teaching.
The university classroom was the first classroom I ever stepped into. I do not wish to boast, but throughout every part of my academic career, I have been complimented particularly for my critical thinking skills, creativity, writing ability and general intellectual interest.
If one has had a bad experience with ACE, sympathy is in order. However I would warn against assuming that such an experience is the result of every encounter with ACE – many people are extremely thankful to ACE for enabling them to have the most positive educational experience of their lives. This includes children who have been the target of abuse in state schools – children who would otherwise have had to live out their formative years in the most damaging environment possible. It also includes children who have strong opinions and beliefs – children who would otherwise have had their individuality stifled to death by peer pressure.
My aim in referring to the low standard of the British school system is only to point out that no curriculum is going to be perfect. We need to be aware of applying unrealistic expectations when dealing with ACE or any other curriculum – lets treat all with an equal amount of realism. Your heavy-handed, one-sided criticism of ACE causes suspicion immediately and makes me wonder what your ultimate intentions really are. Even facts can be carefully chosen; what facts concerning ACE are you leaving out? Are your ‘extracts’ chosen at random, or are they carefully selected to prove one of your many negative points? Why, out of the entire ACE curriculum, which spans from pre-school to college preparation, does the one PACE about the Lough Ness monster have to be rehashed again and again on websites across the Internet?
[In response to my point that educational reviews of ACE have been overwhelmingly negative] Christian education as a whole has received very little academic evaluation. Given the general liberal, left-wing trend in universities since the 1960s and earlier, I would expect most journal articles to be negative, especially since they examine ACE from a sociological perspective and not from a practical educational perspective.
Anti: Scott Bragg
Reading your blog brings back some of the horrors I’d forgotten from my 3 years in an ACE based secondary school. Argument after argument, detention after detention all for the “Sin of Hubris”. I questioned their scientific facts, their history, even the literature. None of it made any sense to me.
It wasn’t until I hit University that I realized that my “six years” of education I achieved in 3 years of schooling in the self paced school was worthless. The only thing that I took away that was of any value was math. Even they had a hard time screwing up calculus.
The final straw for me, in my senior year, was an argument with the Principal where he told me, flat out, that it was his God given duty to teach me what to think. I left the school shortly thereafter, got my GED and went on to University.
If i had it to do over, I would never have left public school, even with the hell on earth the Central Florida school system was at the time. My real education effectively stopped when I did.
Pro: Jennifer Almeida
I as well as my younger brother went through the A.C.E. program. I enjoyed it and would never refer to it as a monk’s cell. It was a classroom and there was plenty of interaction between students as well as teachers. There were some things that could have ben done different, but that goes of any school system. I would not trade the education I received nor the friendships I made for anything. I graduated from that school a year early at age 16, entered college when I was 17 and I am currently a web designer at a top hospital in Southwest Georgia. Education is what you make of it. My brother who also went to the A.C.E. school with me, later transferred to another school after I graduated. He did not finish school, did not receive his diploma and has not worked to get his GED. He always hated school and because of the decisions he has made as far as education goes, he has a tough time. Every child is different in how they learn and children have their ways of learning better in various classroom settings.
The ACE school I attended in California has just asked for alumni statements in order to get state accreditation, which made me critically think about the way the curriculum helped/hindered me/others. It’s precisely my academic success later in life (which I see people are presenting as evidence for ACE’s success) that has pointed out these shortcomings.
I found that ACE helped me with test taking, memorization, answering to please the grader, and sitting silently for 7 hours straight. It hindered me by not teaching me long-term retention, critical thinking, literary/historical/contextual analysis, participation in discussions, essay composition, and unbiased presentation.
If students only complete lower-level college courses (an Associate’s degree here), they’ll shine because grades are based primarily on tests. For upper-level learning (Bachelor’s degree and further), tests are almost nonexistent, giving way to critical analysis that ACE completely fails to prepare you for. (And indeed seems to condemn.)
Anti: “Geo Avenger”
I too went through ACE schools. I found them intellectually stifling and relentlessly uncreative. I felt completely unprepared for college. I had taken a class that was not offered (physics) at a local community college when I was in 12th grade so I knew the education I had received was a joke. About a decade after graduating from high school I did go to college. At that point it had been long enough that colleges did not require an SAT or look at my high school curricula (since I knew they would know it was ridiculous too). I am now writing my dissertation in… wait for it… GEOLOGY!
It’s funny how I came across your blog(this is the third post I’ve read of yours about ACE.) I was outraged at things I found in my ACE books and Googled the subject to see if anyone else realized the same. Thankfully, it seems as though a lot of people see the same thing.
I was going through some old ACE books in order to get my transcripts for my first year of highschool in order and noticed all of the places that I had highlighted wrong information or just blatant lies. It was atrocious! Most of them were in history because that happened to be my favorite subject but Science was chock full of lies as well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Christian. But ACE played no part in my conversion. In fact, it put a bitter taste in my mouth towards any fundamentalist or organized religion. The fact that all of the work is reading comprehension and pretty much no creative writing sickens me. In the few years that I studied ACE I was in no way encouraged to voice my own opinion or do any kind of secular research to find things out for myself. I remember at one point, a “creative writing” project was to write a letter to my governor… My problem here? I was instructed to “thank him and show your appreciation for his policies and achievement”… Which I completely disagreed with.
I’m surprised that I’m as open-minded and critical as I am today considering how brain-washing that education is. Oh and don’t get me started on ACE’s view of Native Americans and their subtle racism.
I noticed a few people asking about the students that go through ACE and where they end up.. My boyfriend graduated with ACE. He didn’t like it but made the best of it and is serving in the Airforce reserves right now.. He’ll be taking college classes on graphic designing at the end of this year and is moving forward in life.
Most of the other ACE students I know of transferred after less than two years of studying ACE.
Growing up in a Christian home, you’d think that sex wouldn’t be mentioned but it actually was and still is. Of course, my parents discouraged me from sleeping around but they also told me that nothing they could do would stop me from making my own decisions… Which I took advantage of. Thanks to a really douchey guy, I made a decision to remain pure til marriage.. Because I realized that no matter how much he may have said he loved me, he wouldn’t be capable of the love that I would want to accompany intimate relations…
I must thank my parents and *insert name of certain teenage guy* for doing what ACE never did and saving me from being another statistic. Unfortunately, I know a number of girls that went through ACE and have narrowly escaped from being a teen mom. They continue on their self-destructive path of promiscuity, self-hatred, and insecurity thanks to ACE and parents that don’t really care.
Anti: “Vice Device”
I got spanked for alleged scoring violations. I never cheated intentionally. The two meanest and biggest teachers beat me with a paddle and then wanted to prey with me. What a joke.I Hate PACE and ACE and want it destroyed. It ruined my life. I’ve carried this hate since the early 80′s. If I ever see the people who abused me they are gonna pay. I was a skinny geek. Now i’m 250 lbs. 6′ of solid muscle(except for my beer belly) hell bent on revenge. Thank you for exposing this cult and the criminals behind it. I love this website and all the work you do in our behalf. What kind of sick F*^% likes beating a young boy?
The ace education system gave my brother the opportunity to learn as a child with A.D.D this was the only way that he could learn basic things which were so blatantly ignored in him before in a public school. granted it isnt as rigorous as most educational programs but it has it merits. i would also like to point out that physical abuse is something that occurs where ever there is a teacher who thinks that’s the best way of disciplining a child.
Anti: Kirbyyoung (message received via Reddit)
I was in the PACE program for two and a half years, and worked at a school that taught it for a year. In my relatively short time, I saw it was certainly not the best of systems. I can’t really remember anything wrong actually in the books, not to say there wasn’t anything wrong, as you have shown there is plenty. It is the system itself, the whole “work at your own pace” thing. I wasn’t in it for as long as a lot of other people who were posting in the comments of your post, so it hasn’t messed up my way of learning. I never had much of a problem with the program myself. If you are a fast reader and worker, the system can be beneficial just in that you can graduate early, though how credible that diploma should be is up for debate.
The problem lies in the students who aren’t self motivated, or aren’t the quickest readers or learners. The year I worked at an institution that used this system, about 4 of the 35 students in the high school were actually were they were supposed to be. One student was on the first book of his 9th grade science, and on the 4th or so book of his 9th grade social studies by the end of his 11th grade year. Keep in mind there are 12 books per subject per grade. Can’t quite remember where he was in the other books, but I think the highest may have been either the first book in his math or one of the early books in English 2. I knew the kid pretty well, pretty smart, maybe above average, but the motivation wasn’t there. I honestly don’t know what he did all day. I have known kids who either dropped out or seriously considered it because they were so far behind.
There is one thing I do like about the system, at least in theory. When you enter the school, you take diagnostic tests, starting from 1st grade or kindergarten and ending at high school. Every separate PACE book has it’s own small section that goes over the main subject of that book. If you fail the section, you get that book to give a refresher on what you might not have learned, or have forgotten, from past grades. The thought is that if you don’t know something from say, 6th grade math, you won’t be able to do some of the things 9th grade math. Like knowing the fundamentals of basketball before trying to play like a pro. Simple enough, though I am not fond of the execution. I don’t think there is anything that makes this system acceptable. Anything that the system does well is overshadowed by all of the problems it has.
More survivor stories: