The Common Breakfast Scheme
– an Improbable Fantasy

Suppose that the federal government decided to over-reach and do something illogical about the national epidemic of childhood obesity. Bear with me while I set up the scenario.

Because it’s “for the children,” the Department of Health announces a sweeping program to require a national, standardized breakfast menu. Frosted flakes, cocoa puffs, and honey nuts are all out. All children, under the age of 18 will be required to have a nutritious breakfast using only items from a federally mandated and approved list of foods. Muesli & granola are in. Fruit and yogurt are in. Everything else, not so much. And suppose further that the federal bureaucracy came up with some obnoxious and intrusive schemes to monitor and verify what all of our [ahem, excuse me, THEIR] little darlings were eating for breakfast.

There would of course, be a predictable outrage from parents (and probably teen-agers, if not toddlers). The federal government would be denounced for taking liberties with the constitution. There would be rallies denouncing the Common Breakfast Scheme. The idea of enlarging the federal government and allowing its intrusion into suburban kitchens would be anathema.

Of course, there would be those who saw opportunities. Some of the major breakfast cereal manufacturers might rush to re-design their cereals and packaging to announce that they were Common Breakfast compliant. Some big corporations might even see great advantage in having their products endorsed and approved, while their rivals’ products were banned. Big Breakfast Corporations might even publicly support the Common Breakfast Scheme.

But ponder, for just a moment, the small local family run business who makes homemade granola. They’ve been careful with their ingredients. They have a loyal customer base. And they certainly have nothing to do with any big government initiative that wants to compel everyone to eat granola.

And suddenly, they find themselves denounced as either “supporting”, “accidentally aligned”, or “coincidentally aligned” with the Common Breakfast Scheme. Citizen activists from The Breakfast Freedom Coalition (which sprang up out of nowhere), take it upon themselves to compile lists of any and all companies who produce any product which is listed as approved by the Common Breakfast Scheme. Websites are started, activists are dispatched urging consumers to demand information about the local granola companies stance towards the Common Breakfast.

And through a network of self-appointed experts, small companies are told that their products are going to be boycotted because they are Common Breakfast Aligned. Indeed, at least one of the activists writes and publishes an opinion piece denouncing them as the equivalent of Tories during the American Revolution!

And all they really wanted to do was to continue making and selling the same homemade granola that they’d been making and selling for twenty years. They wanted nothing to do with the Common Breakfast list of approved foods. They certainly didn’t support a federal mandate telling people what they could and couldn’t feed to their children for breakfast.

Math problem #1: How much time, energy, and goodwill would have been wasted by The Breakfast Freedom Coalition, tracking down all of the local granola companies in order to publicize which ones were making Common Breakfast aligned food before they came to their senses?

Math problem #2: How much impact would The Breakfast Freedom Coalition have on the implementation of the federal government’s Common Breakfast Scheme by targeting small granola companies?

But of course, this is simply a highly improbable thought experiment.

The federal government would never consider a scheme so poorly conceived and so universally intrusive (and so unconstitutional).

And there really aren’t any citizen activists so benighted as to think that the way to oppose the federal government would be to go after small homemade granola companies.

Are there?

  1. Ellen Gerwitz’s avatar

    All that said company (the small granola producing one) had to do is say that they’re going to continue producing their product and they don’t care whether or not it meets the BEC and that makes them NOT ALIGNED.

    No company was placed on any list based on whether or not TEFC thought they were aligned or not. Each company was contacted and ASKED for their own position on the matter. And those that asked to be left off the list were left off the list.

    And just to be clear, I AM the activist who wrote the “tory” piece. The companies I called tories were those who decided to “go along to get along”. (i.e. Re-label their product as either CCSS aligned or show how they met the standards so they could keep selling their product.)

    Citizens have a right to know about the products they buy and the companies they buy from. Period. And businesses have the right to make a business decision as they see fit – and then must live with the consequences of that decision.


    1. redhatrob’s avatar


      Some small granola companies have not found it quite so easy.

      Question: What’s the difference between “Independent” and “Coincidentally Connected?”


    2. Cindy’s avatar

      Shared this on my FB page because I think you make a very good point. Seems to be a more heated topic than I thought.


    3. Katie’s avatar

      Thank you for writing this article! This level of common sense about CCS is much needed.
      My answers to the math test:
      #1: countless and unending. I believe that’s called infinity.
      #2: 0
      #3: you’re a funny guy

      How’d I do?


      1. redhatrob’s avatar

        Flattery always improves the teacher’s attitude…


      2. Dawn @ The Momma Knows’s avatar

        This has to be the BEST explanation of how it’s happening that I’ve read so far. I also see you’ve brought out the defenders of the list. I wrote a post yesterday on this topic and had more than my share of them too. Thank you Rob, because not only did you make it CLEAR but you also made it funny and that’s one thing I kept trying to express– people need to lighten up just a little bit. I’m sure you’re in for a ride today!


      3. Judith Martinez’s avatar

        A lot of people are dropping Math U See because they made some minor additions to their curriculum to be compatible. The changes aren’t going to have a negative moral tone to them and they actually improve the curriculum by adding more application (isn’t the point of math to apply it to real life). I think it’s fine because so many of the public schools that use Math U See instead of junky “new math” don’t have any say on whether or not to accept common core. Why should the students at those schools be denied a quality math program because of a bunch of idiot politicians? There is nothing in their list of additions that threaten the quality of education or indoctrinate any children in liberal ideology. I will continue to use Math U See and continue to oppose the use of the common core in my local schools. I can do both with a clear conscience.


        1. Christina’s avatar

          I completely agree. I am openly opposed to common core. Math U see is a great program and was able to make a few minor changes to allow their program to continue to be used by schools that must comply without compromising the integrity of the program. I was glad to see that was able to happen. I hope common core will be defeated, but I don’t want the curriculum companies to suffer in the meantime.


        2. Eliza’s avatar

          From what I’ve seen, the Coalition has made every effort to get statements directly from the companies, and to report truthfully.

          It is the company’s choice to respond or not, and if they do, they get to choose how they are represented. The idea isn’t to vilify people but to make distinctions on how companies view their own products and markets.

          I find the Coalition’s list to be extremely helpful. I won’t refer to it in order to boycott, but it’s a great at-a-glance guide.


          1. Jenn’s avatar

            Actually, they harass companies and tell them they MUST give a response. Tina will NOT allow anyone to remain neutral. She’s a stalking, harasser.

            Harassed Small Company Owner who has heard the same from other small companies


          2. Ellen Gerwitz’s avatar


            Well, you can read the clearly spelled-out definitions right on TEFC’s website.

            What exactly is so hard about a small granola company saying that they going to keep making their product like they always have and not change anything about it and that they don’t care one whit about the CCSS?

            Your company, Greenleaf Press, had no problem doing that. In fact, it’s listed as Independent for that very reason. Because you chose not to change your product or advertise it as meeting some government standard and because that’s how you replied to the series of questions you were sent. If you can do it, why can’t other companies do the same?

            I would actually go so far as to say that the lists have brought many small curriculum companies to light and given them more business. For example, I had never heard of your company, Greenleaf Press, before CCSS and I had been homeschooling for 18 years by that point.

            As for companies like MUS: of course, their consumers have the right to decide whether or not to use them. But, they also have the right to know that MUS did add pages to its curriculum so that it would align with the CCSS. They did this so that they could keep selling to public schools and avoid losing money. That’s their right to make such a business decision, but they must also be prepared to live with the fact that some people will be unhappy with that decision. It is no crime to inform people about the business decisions of companies.

            Nowhere on TEFC’s website or FB page will you see the organization calling for a boycott of any company. Granted, all of us have our own opinions and convictions about what we should and should not do, but TEFC does not tell anyone where or where not to spend their money.

            We’ve actually even had people contact us to thank us for helping them find CCSS-aligned materials by using our lists because that’s what they wanted.

            I am not quite sure why it’s okay to tell consumers (like Cathy Duffy does) that these 100 curricula are the top picks or that these curricula are Christian while these are secular or to provide a listing of curricula that are Charlotte Mason or Classical or Traditional, but it’s not okay to provide a list based on the companies’ positions on the CCSS.


            1. Katie’s avatar

              Actually there is a chasmic difference between the TEFC lists (and yes, I have throughly viewed their website and FB page) and classifying a course as Traditional, Charlotte Mason, Classical, Secular, etc. First of all, the terms “aligned,” “independent,” “coincidentally aligned,” etc. were fabricated by TEFC and had no meaning prior to TEFC, have no meaning outside of TEFC, and will cease to have meaning anywhere when TEFC becomes irrelevant (which will happen when people realize that the sky is not falling, and homeschool publishers are not the enemy). Also, descriptions like “traditional” or “classical” have to do with the actual content and format of a course, and the course was created to meet that definition. You can compare a “faith-based” course and a “secular” course and see real, very important differences between them. You could compare a course on TEFC’s “Independent” list and one on their “Aligned” list and see no discernible difference. The label of “aligned” was one imposed by TEFC and was never the intention of the course’s author. The labels of TEFC have NOTHING to do with the content of a course, but have everything to do with the advertising of the publisher. Should home schoolers care and try to control to what groups a publisher advertises? Really? The real danger is when TEFC doesn’t make it apparent that controlling advertising is their intention.


              1. Jenn’s avatar

                Perhaps granola companies, staying abreast of what’s happening in Granola-land rather than Breakfast land, do not have a stance. They’re minding their own business and doing what they do.

                Yet Ms Hollenbeck continues to harass, demand and command them to give a response.

                To me, this is as illogical as demanding that a small, local health food store no all the goings on between the FDA/CDC/Big Pharma monopoly. If you have an interest.. go for it. If you just want to run your little herbal business and have no concern or interest in what the big conglomerates are doing..that’s great too.


              2. Ellen Gerwitz’s avatar

                See, here’s where you’re missing a key factor.

                You said, ” to compile lists of any and all companies who produce any product which is listed as approved by the Common Breakfast Scheme. ”

                TEFC did not look at a list of curricula approved by the CCSS and then list them accordingly on our lists.

                We took the companies’ own STATEMENTS which said what they believed and did in regards to the CCSS and then categorized them.

                Here are the questions we asked them:

                1. Have you already altered any of your materials for the express purpose of aligning with the CCS? If so, which materials? And what, specifically, have you changed?

                2. Do you have future plans to alter any of your materials in any way in order to align with the CCS? If so, which materials and what specific changes are you planning to make? When will you make the changes?

                3. Do you have published documents (i.e., available to consumers as a marketing tool) showing coincidental correlations between your materials and the CCS even if you haven’t changed content in the process?

                4. If you have aligned or correlated or plan to align or correlate with CCS, what prompted you to make that decision?

                5. If you have not aligned or correlated and do not plan to align or correlate with CCS, how strong is your commitment to remaining independent?


              3. Ellen Gerwitz’s avatar

                To sum it up (sorry, I know I tend to write a lot):

                No one from TEFC has looked at a company and compared their product to the CCSS and said, “Uh oh, they accidentally teach their material the same way as the CCSS, so they’re in X category.”

                The companies themselves have told TEFC what they’ve done and why they’ve done it. That was the basis for their position on the lists.

                I know, I know, you’re going to ask about the coincidentally-aligned companies.

                Two good examples of this would be Christian Liberty Press and Timberdoodle.

                Any material that CLP writes is not aligned, but they do offer some products from other companies in their packages. Some of those external products happen to be from companies who have chosen to align.

                For Timberdoodle, they sell products that are aligned and some that are not aligned. They do not plan to change their packages to only use non-aligned products.

                This makes both of these companies coincidentally aligned.

                That being said, both companies could do as Freedom Project Education did and inform their customers that they do have current products that are CCSS, but that they plan to get rid of those for the following school year because they are strongly opposed to the CCSS.

                Bottom line: Each company makes their own decisions and takes their own actions and the customers react as they see fit. We simply inform the customers as to the companies’ position in one database.

                P.S. Don’t confuse my own FB post (the Tory article) as being from TEFC. I wrote that under my own name. It expresses MY opinions, not those of TEFC.


                1. redhatrob’s avatar

                  Your recommendation to both CLP and Timberdoodle is that they should drop any products that are published by companies which are CCSS.

                  How is this not calling for a boycott?


                2. redhatrob’s avatar

                  2nd question: Based on your scenario, you seem to be saying that it’s OK to be CCS compliant so long as that’s not what you intended.

                  So a company’s material could match all of the published CC standards in math, but so long as they announced that they were opposed to the CC standards, they would be categorized by the TEFC as “independent?”


                3. Terri’s avatar


                  I just hope that you are spending the same amount of time (or maybe more so) trying to fight CC at the local and state government levels as you are arguing about lists and alignment, incidental, intentional or otherwise. The battle is with the government, not with indie publishers. That is the point of this article. Fight the battle where it belongs.



                  1. Rebecca Keliher’s avatar

                    Terri, so glad you brought this up. If only these gals understood the challenges and the countless hours these small mom and pop organizations put into equipping and encouraging the homeschool mom. These gals would do good to start focusing their efforts in the right direction.


                  2. Katie’s avatar

                    Ah Ellen, but as an organizer of TEFC (co-coordinator, I believe is your distinguished title), what you say on that group is representative of TEFC. Just like when Truett Cathy expresses his personal beliefs, he is representing all of Chick-fil-A; and Natalie Maines represents the Dixie Chicks when she speaks. You don’t get to say “Well, that’s just my whacked-out conspiracy theory, TEFC doesn’t feel that way.” You ARE TEFC, and right or wrong, people are looking to you for advice. I also wonder if you have made it known to the group that you are a publisher yourself. And that your courses are, obviously, on the Independent list. And that you might benefit financially when someone rejects a competitor’s curriculum based on your classification and opinion that it is somehow aligned. And we all know you have not been shy to give your opinion of other publishers’ courses. When you do, you are speaking for TEFC.


                  3. shadowspring’s avatar

                    When did home schoolers start to hate on public school students? Common Core standards are being written to ensure that all American public school students get a decent baseline education. This is especially necessary with all the charter schools springing up in so many locations. Children need to be able to do basic math and understand how it applies to their world.

                    Home school parents USED to be all full of brags on this point, right? Having our children keep a running total of products going into the grocery basket, for example. I remember making our lemonade stand type projects into a learning experience, including profit and loss statements, especially differentiating between gross revenue and actual profit. When it was time to redecorate, I let the children use their knowledge of geometry to decide how many feet of chair molding to buy, how much paint we need to cover the walls, etc.

                    So, if the government decides that public school kids could benefit from this sort of instruction in a classroom, why are home school parents upset??? Don’t we love our neighbors as ourselves? Don’t we wish all children had the quality education we are providing?

                    It seems today’s home school parents are not the quality people that once populated the movement. HSLDA has turned so many into reactionary fear-mongers who would certainly start a hate-filled witch hunt, even while claiming to follow Jesus. Get back to the heart of the Christian faith, dear parents. Leave the hate to others. You show love to all: your children, your community, your vendors and all vendors.

                    That seems to me to be the answer here to WWJD….



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