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VIE questions

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Hi all,


I am looking at VIE for my rising second grader.  I wanted to know how secular the new versions are?  I believe I had read that previous versions were more Catholic.  


I also want to know how rigorous it is.  How does it compare to Rod and Staff or something like A Beka in grammar mechanics and diagramming?  I know SWB recommends it.


What is the writing portion like?  Do I really need the Teacher's manual?  How all inclusive is it for language arts?


The biggest con I am seeing is that it moves to a hard text in third grade vs. a workbook.  I'd prefer a workbook.  Cost is pricey, but it is less of an issue for me.  I don't mind it being schoolish or incremental...I actually sort of like that in a grammar program as long as it is rigorous.  


FLL was not serving us well.  On my own, I'd probably go with an A Beka workbook for this child as it is rigorous, fairly inexpensive and a colorful workbook format.  This child is the "Perfect Paul" who asks me for more workbooks and loves A Beka.  But our charter will pay for secular materials, so if it is just as good, I can give it a closer look if it is truly secular.

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