Homeschooling Mom Starts Christian Resource Center to Combat California’s Draconian Laws in Education
Melissa Wheeler, founder of KERN Resource Center, recently spoke with The Stream’s Nancy Flory about the resource center, why she started it and how it combats California’s laws that require students in public school to take the COVID vaccine and wear masks. As a homeschooling mom, Melissa knew that homeschooling kids were not in the jurisdiction of California public schools. She started KERN to give other parents and students an alternative, yet distinctly Christian, education. Here is what Melissa had to say.
Nancy: Can you tell me why you founded the KERN Resource Center?
Melissa: Well, with the political climate and the indoctrination of students in public schools, we decided that the area needed another option. Bakersfield has been known as a little safe haven, a little pocket in California to be primarily conservative. But over the course of the last couple of decades as this agenda keeps creeping through, parents became more aware of it during the pandemic because the students were forced to school at home. And so, we saw a mass exodus from the states with impending additions to the vaccine schedule or the threats of that happening. And they just keep pushing it on younger and younger students.
They have placed feminine products in the boys’ restroom in the public schools. If a girl decides that she wants to identify as a boy, and she happens to be on her cycle, she’s able to go into the boys’ restroom and have access to that material.
They have incorporated the LGBT propaganda all the way down to the kindergarten level. We’ve got illustrated books that the teachers [are] not yet required in our county to read to the students, but they are in our public schools and they’re available to the students electronically and in the library. And then, one of the schools that’s about a half mile away from our location, they just had a group of attorneys come out and speak with all the teachers this last week to let them know that the curriculum was going to incorporate all of it, and they are welcome to teach it. They don’t yet have to, [but] that it’s coming. It’ll be coming.
Also, the state has eliminated the ability for parents to have a religious exemption or a medical exemption from vaccines in order to attend public school and private school. That’s why we call ourselves a resource center. We are not a quote unquote school. So the state has no jurisdiction over our vaccine status, our masking status. They don’t have any information, we don’t do any reporting to the state. So all of our kids, in a sense, fly under the radar.
Nancy: You’ve mentioned several concerns that you had about public school. Were you ever concerned that maybe the teaching wasn’t up to where you wanted it, not up to par? Did that factor into your decision?
Melissa: I always homeschooled my kids. I homeschooled … when it was frowned upon. And I think God gifted me with that so that I would be prepared to do what is happening right now with KERN Resource Center. So, I went through all of the different curriculum, and [I’ve] been able to what I call “pull” from different places so it’s an eclectic, we don’t use a package curriculum. I feel like we’ve been able to take the best history curriculum, the best science curriculum, and bring them together to then pass on to the students. The education that they’re doing in the public schools is just — the teacher’s hands are really tied because they’re teaching to a test rather than teaching for the love of learning. And so it’s just a completely different philosophical approach.
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We want our kids to have a passion for learning, to love reading. We give them a different variety of options rather than forcing an agenda on them. And then sadly, with all of the indoctrination that’s happening — for example, one of our local eighth grade classes in the public school — it was the Rosedale Union School District — used the first three weeks of the school year for sex ed. That was the first three weeks of school. And the parents [can no longer] opt out. It’s automatic that the students are in, they’re automatically opted into this unless the parents find out what’s happening and they find something to opt out. It used to be that you had to sign something where your student was able to opt in.
They pushed [an agenda] on these kids and now there’s not as much learning in the classroom. … Most learning is done on a computer, and I don’t believe that’s healthy either. They need to learn how to have a real book and highlight and take notes and write things out on paper. And we teach cursive. They no longer teach cursive in the public school. The only thing that the kids know how to write is their signature.
Nancy: Can you tell me when you started the KERN Resource Center?
Melissa: We opened in September. Our year is more traditional, so we start after Labor Day weekend in September, and then we’ll go through the end of May. So we’re just getting ready to finish up our first year.
Nancy: And how did that first year go?
Melissa: It was phenomenal. We have had parents and grandparents and students [say] that they’re absolutely thrilled that they did not have to leave California, but there was another option for their families. They trust us, they feel their kids safe and they’re learning so much. I had a mom tell me, “My kids learned more in the first week at KRC than they did their entire year last year in public school.
We started with around 50 students. We now have about 75 and we’re anticipating to double by this fall. We just made the announcement on Monday that we’re moving to a new location. It’s a much more centralized location. And it’s a better facility. And we’re so excited that God has provided it for us. Our phone was ringing off the hook yesterday.
Nancy: Is the school a Christian school?
Melissa: Yes. … Our first period is Bible every day. And then all of our courses are taught from the Christian worldview, including Science and History and Math.
And then we have a full-time art teacher and a full-time music teacher, because I believe that they’re lost arts that are really, really important for students. So the music teacher [is] teaching them not only about music and reading, music and rhythm, but with the older students they’re each learning to play a different instrument.
Nancy: What are your goals and mission for Kern Resource Center?
Melissa: Our mission is to meet kids through education to grow in their relationship with Christ, to love others and to be the future leaders of this country. Our long-term goal is to expand into a rec program so that we’re able to reach kids through athletics, reach kids so that they come to Christ through sports. And we plan to grow to probably 1600 students.
Monday through Thursday we do our core academics which would be Bible, Math, English, History, Science, Art, Music, and then a nutrition and gardening class and P.E. But then on Fridays, we call them life skills, every Friday is different. So one Friday a month we do a fitness project. One Friday a month is a project-based learning day. One Friday a month is a field trip. And then one Friday a month is a survival skills day.
We want to give them life skills so that when they go out into the world, they’re able to do basic things and potentially [learn a skill] that might be a necessity that we don’t even know of right now. Like they learned how to purify water. They learned how to change a tire. They learned how to build a tent. They learned how to make deodorant from natural ingredients. They learned how to make strawberry jam, and they’ve done so many different projects on campus. They also learned how to create a household budget.
Nancy: Is there anything I haven’t asked that you think our readers should know about KERN Resource Center?
Melissa: This is probably the future education of our country if we’re going to save it from moving to a communist society. In order to save the country, we have to reach this next generation and right now so many of them are being indoctrinated, even in conservative states. There is an urgency that people don’t realize.
Nancy Flory, Ph.D., is a senior editor at The Stream. You can follow her @NancyFlory3, and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.