Apparently the only way to get the attention of mass social media outlets like BuzzFeed is to be wearing a little black dress. Hey Facebook! If the last few months of my repetitive, frequent, and often lengthy posts about Camp Oak Hallows haven’t caught your eye yet, maybe this will!
COH is a nonprofit education project based in Central Texas with the goal of opening for first term in August of 2025. As an alternative to general education public school and the brainchild of two queer women and an aspiring physicist who are yet to graduate high school, it relies entirely on the support of the community it serves: all of them.
It’s no secret that public schools, especially American ones, just aren’t cutting it. But when it comes to disabled, accelerated, LGBT, POC, chronically ill, and Special Interest/spectrum students, general education falls far short of acceptable or accessible.
Camp Oak Hallows hopes to change the common idea of what a school is by taking advantage of the state of Texas’s loose laws surrounding home and alternative schooling. The mantra “A school should be as unique as its students” stands out clearly in contrast to the words so often uttered by public school professionals, “Just get it done.”
It is not fair to hold only teachers accountable for the success of their students, but it’s not up to the students alone either. The cracks in our education system go to the very root: the legislation. Did you know that homeschoolers in Texas never face benchmark testing unless specifically sought by their guardian/family, and are only required to pursue Reading, Spelling, Grammar, Math, and Good Citizenship? Meanwhile, in public schools, students are required to complete courses like chemistry, algebra, and physics (at least two years of classes,) but only ONE credit of “arts,” which are all lumped in. The mood of public school perpetuates the idea that if you’re not good at art, you’re not an artist, but if you’re not good at chemistry, algebra, and physics, you’re not trying hard enough.
No two students are alike. COH understands that and is using it as their strongest point: every child deserves to be educated in a way best for their self.
It’s 2018, Buzzfeed . How much revenue can you really be making on your story about the texts Millie Bobby Brown got from Ariana that something about positive change in the world doesn’t make the cut?
Maybe I need to reach out to Teen Vogue, they’ve been kicking ass lately.
Building off of this post, all of the above is true. We are taking advantage of the loose laws in Texas, that’s why we don’t have immediate plans to open in other states. We don’t expect to see Texas legislature coming together to reform home and alternative education just to shut us down, either. None of this means that non-Texans can’t come to Camp. We welcome everyone, that’s the whole point. Because all of these “niche” communities we serve, the disabled and LGBTQ and people of color, are somehow, in the eyes of legislators everywhere, “too small to worry about” and yet a big enough threat to the fabric of society as a whole that legislation passes in support of the suppression of these groups. Very few people are only affected by one social justice issue. These issues are intersectional and stacked upon each other like an IKEA bookshelf with just one Nail missing: justification. There are no viable reasons for the racism and homophobia and xenophobias that exist in the world.
And they don’t exist in ours. We are not blind to them, we are actively working to relieve them. Through our accessibility programs that are so much more than just ramps and curbless showers, Camp Oak Hallows is here to stay, and hopefully make some positive waves while we’re at it.
Headmaster of Serenity House, co-founder