Classical Conversations #1: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Classical Conversations, Homeschool, Classical Education, #ClassicalConvMadeKnown

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About 10 years ago, I was at a homeschool family camp with my family in Washington state, and it was talent-show night. Previous years at the talent show, children and families sang, kids performed skits, or danced a routine. However, this year, there were a couple of very young girls who recited historical passages. I cannot recall what was recited, but I remember being impressed with these girls, who were about 5 years old, reciting such long texts – texts that included vocabulary words with four syllables, using words I rarely use. Actually, I was blown away.

I later found out these girls were involved in a group called Classical Conversations (CC) in their area, and memorizing was part of their schoolwork. Along the way, I’ve run into several homeschool moms who have tried to encourage me to join Classical Conversations, especially when I expressed my interest in classical education.

Here is a brief description of classical education:

Classical education focuses on the great books of Western civilization, Latin, and lessons about morality and virtue, and is based on the medieval European curriculum that divided learning into the “trivium”: grammar, logic and rhetoric. The concept of fusing classical education into modern teaching was popularized by a 1947 essay by British author Dorothy Sayers called “The Lost Tools of Learning.”  (Source).

I had already been teaching my children and adopting some classical methods of learning after hearing a compelling lecture by Susan Wise Bauer who spoke at a HEAV convention in Virginia. I immediately bought her book and began implementing classical methods in my teaching. Prior to that, I used a hodgepodge of curricula, but now with Susan Wise Bauer’s recommendations, my children were on a tried-and-true academic track  – a proven educational method that had been used by students for centuries. It felt reassuring to have such a proven academic plan for my kiddos.

When we moved to a new state, many of our new homeschooling friends were supplementing their homeschooling with the Classical Conversations program. My new friends once again encouraged us to join. I asked questions, took a look at what we already had going on in our homeschooling plan, looked at the needs of our children, and my needs, and decided it was not a good fit for us at the time. Currently, there are so many options – maybe too many options – for homeschoolers. Parents need to use what works best for them and for their children to achieve optimum educational success.

Classical Conversations didn’t work for my family; however, it has worked for many families. For many families, CC has become a way for them to connect with other families who are homeschooling, and receive support. Children can grow up with other CC children through the years and gain solid friendships. Parents can encourage and support each other.

I’ve read accounts that using Classical Conversations has helped some inexperienced or perhaps unorganized moms/dads to stay on task and get all of the academic boxes checked, because someone else has made sure that the material is good and appropriate.

Students can participate in fun activities together from science projects, to memory work, speech and debate, and mock trials. Have you ever heard of a child reciting Newton’s Laws of Motion? When was the last time you heard of students learning Latin? Classical Conversations sounds like a rich and broad learning experience, doesn’t it? I have no doubt that many have benefited from this rich program.

CC also can benefit new homeschool moms who are overwhelmed with homeschooling options. It can give them a sense of security, knowing they don’t have pick books and programs when it’s already done for them. It’s a great way to get immersed into homeschooling without doing it blindly. Parents only need to cover reading, writing, and arithmetic (for the lower grades). The rest is covered at Classical Conversations which meets one time per week.

That all sounds great, doesn’t it?

It probably is great for many families/groups. But all groups do not run the same, nor do they have the same leaders or families, so there is bound to be different “looking” groups.

Unfortunately, I’ve been hearing negative issues connected with Classical Conversations. I’ve noticed them, too, as I have been in homeschool sites on the internet. And, recently, people have contacted me to share their experiences. I believe I’m in a position to do something that makes a positive difference, by hosting some conversations here at Spiritual Sounding Board, about apparent problems in the Classical Conversations system.

Julie Anne’s (yes, I go by both names or JA is fine, too) Background

Let me give new readers a little background so you can understand where I am coming from and the purpose of this blog. After starting BGBC Survivors, a blog about my abusive church experience, I, along with five others, were sued by the pastor there in 2012 in a defamation lawsuit. He lost the lawsuit and had to pay not only his attorney fees, but the defendants’ attorney fees, along with court and filing costs. Through that process, I learned a lot about First Amendment rights and responsibilities, and what people can and cannot say publicly.

When the lawsuit against me went viral, a lot of people came to my blog to send notes of encouragement. Along with those notes, many people shared their abusive church experiences. I continued to blog, changed the name to Spiritual Sounding Board, but now made it about spiritual abuse in general, and invited others to share their stories.

This blog is for survivors who have been harmed in church or Christian groups/organizations. Other stories covered here have included Doug Phillips, Vision Forum, Family-Integrated Churches; Bill Gothard, IBLP, ATI, and reports of sexual abuse; the Christian Patriarchy Movement, Stay-at-Home Daughters Movement, courtship, purity, and modesty teachings, etc. I do quite a bit of investigative reporting, have done interviews on these related topics, am quoted in major news articles, etc. I am not new to this gig. As a 23-year veteran homeschool mom, I know the Christian homeschool culture pretty well.

Let me get straight to the point: I have seen and heard enough about Classical Conversations that alarm bells are going off. This is going to be the first of probably many posts about Classical Conversations. For some who have not experienced any problems with CC, this will probably be shocking to you. I get that. I believe 100% that is has been good for you.  But there are others who have been harmed, and it is because of those people that I have decided to take this on (along with a team of others who were directly involved with CC).

I am working with a team of former Classical Conversations members who have done an incredible amount of research. Combined, they are connected with scores of people currently and formerly part of Classical Conversations. As typically happens with systemic abuse, once someone goes public and tells their personal story, others feel more comfortable sharing their experiences.

So far, here is a sampling of what I’ve seen/heard that I find troubling:

  • Mishandled child-to-child sexual abuse cases.
  • An atmosphere of: no talk, no asking questions, especially publicly if the question seems at all critical.
  • A blurry line between ministry and business aspects of the organization.
  • CC leaders using the Bible to control or silence people.
  • Misuse of Matthew 18 when dealing with conflicts.
  • A rigid atmosphere: “Classical Conversations is the only right way to homeschool” – others are inferior.

Sadly, these are not just normal issues, but issues that would represent systemic malfeasance

Apparently, leaders at Classical Conversations have made legal threats to members who post negative comments about their experiences. That is bullying behavior. Here at Spiritual Sounding Board (SSB), you have the opportunity to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. I do not reveal sources, e-mail addresses, or IP addresses of my commenters to anyone.


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Commenting Ground Rules

I have a minimal set of ground rules to keep Spiritual Sounding Board a safe place for people to share their experiences and expression their opinions.

  • My blog is set up so that your first comment is moderated. After that, all subsequent comments should go through fine unless there are ground rules broken (like language, personal attacks) or it gets stuck in spam. If you think your comment is stuck in the spam box, feel free to send another comment asking me to check the spam box, or send me an email at spiritualsb@gmail.com.
  • Pseudonyms are absolutely fine. In fact, I find that people often feel more comfortable to share when using a pseudonym. Your story is very important. It is very likely that your story has happened to others. By you speaking out, you will give others the courage to speak out.
  • I do not allow comments with the pseudonym. “Anonymous.” Mickey Mouse and Fred Flintstone are up for grabs. 🙂
  • While this is primarily a place for survivors, I do allow conversation from people with opposing opinions, but no personal attacks. You get one warning before Owen, the SSB watchdog, comes out. I’d like to introduce you to Owen:
  • If you violate the warning again, you will be put in the “dog house,” which means all of your comments will be moderated. They will eventually be approved if they are okay, or trashed if they are rude and attacking. Good behavior will get you out of the doghouse. This must remain a safe place.

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Note to Classical Conversations Leaders

Please do not be foolish and send me Cease and Desist letters from attorneys or threaten to sue me, as you have allegedly done to others. I am very aware of my First Amendment rights. The attorney who represented me in the defamation lawsuit taught me much; in fact, she also taught about First Amendment and SLAPP/anti-SLAPP law to other attorneys. She is probably the top attorney in the state on this topic. (SLAPP stands for “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.” Such frivolous lawsuits are basically designed to shut people up by threatening to tie up their time and resources. Anti-SLAPP suits counter those.)

I know how to make sure I am within legal parameters on what can or cannot be said.

I live in Washington State, which has anti-SLAPP laws. Discussion about Classical Conversations would qualify under the anti-SLAPP due to this phrase in the law: “in a place open to the public or a public forum in connection with an issue of public concern” (Wash. Rev. Code § 4.24.525 (4)(a-e)).

My blog is a public forum and the issues related to Classical Conversations are issues of public concern. And there you go.

Additionally, this is what will happen if/when I win a defamation lawsuit using anti-SLAPP statute:

If you win your motion to strike under Washington’s anti-SLAPP statute, the court will dismiss the lawsuit (or the parts of the lawsuit found to be SLAPPs). You will also be entitled to receive your attorneys’ fees, your court costs, and an automatic statutory damage award of $10,000. The court may also sanction the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s attorney.

I recently noticed my vehicle is getting close to 200,000 miles. That $10,000 would come in handy. Just sayin’.

113 comments on “Classical Conversations #1: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

  1. I believe, but am not 100% sure, that Classical Conversations was an offshoot of Doug Wilson’s classical Christian school movement. And we all know what a sicko Wilson is (for the lawyers: in my opinion). I had my children in a Wilsonian school in the early-mid 2000s and we stuck it out for 5 or 6 years. I wrote a guest post for The Wartburg Watch blog about our experiences in 2012. http://thewartburgwatch.com/2012/09/21/guest-post-our-experiences-with-a-doug-wilson-style-classical-school/ Much of what you write about CC sounds very familiar!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Leila – I didn’t realize you did a post back then. I’ll be sure to read it. I know about Doug Wilson and his influence in the homeschool communities promoting Classical Education. He used to speak at homeschool conferences all the time on this topic. (If I only knew what I know now about him, ya know?) Anyway, he has set up a bunch of schools as well. I do not know of any connection with Classical Conversations specifically unless they use some of his materials. I haven’t seen it yet, but I will be looking.

    Or maybe someone can let us know.

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  3. We had one of our kids in a Classical homeschool for one year. It was pretty brutal:

    Effort – our experience was that kids were given a ton of work. We were in a prayer group with some of these kids, and week after week, they asked for prayer about getting their homework done. As 3rd and 4th graders! We wanted to have play dates, etc., but they were always busy doing homework.

    Superiority – integral into the culture was a “this is what’s best for the kids” mentality. So, there was a lot of navel-gazing about how wonderful this was and how brilliant the kids were, but as a public-schooled kid that went to a high-ranked university, I can say that much of it was BS. At their closing ceremony, one of their students, I assume chosen for his Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric skills gave a rhetorical presentation that was skillfully presented in terms of tone and authority, but the actual content was laughably fallacious and poorly argued. Yet, the parents constantly heard gushing comparisons about how much better their teachers/students were than “out there”.

    Parents – one of the “cornerstones” of this homeschool was that the parents were in control. However, when we started pushing for less homework and tried to get missing homework excused, it was met with pretty strong opposition. The teacher was convinced that the strict/harsh approach (demanding perfection from our 3rd grader) was best and when we wanted her to tone that down, well, it just wasn’t going to happen. Even though “blah blah parents rule here”.

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  4. D – I removed your comment. It was off-topic and sounds like an issue from another post. That is disruptive. Please email me if you like, but if you have issues on a particular post, please keep it there. Thanks!
    I’ve graduated now, so I have more time for moderating.

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  5. Mark, are you talking about a Classical school, or specifically in a Classical Conversations group? If you are talking about a school, that is not what this post is about.

    I am glad this is coming up because it’s important to note that there is a distinction between Christian Classical education schools (M-F), and Classical Conversations which is a supplemental program (that also charges tuition, but only meets once per week).

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  6. Thanks so much for looking into CC. We’ve homeschooled our kids for the past eight year and I’ve seen this movement really become big during this time.
    Currently I’m in a monthly social group where most of the members also participate in CC. There has been a some friendly pressure for us to join but so far I’m resisting.

    First off, the money. CC is not an inexpensive program. Sure, my friends have talked about how you can waive fees by tutoring other kids. Why would I want to do that when I am already teaching my own kids? With 4 kids to think about the cost has been prohibitive.

    Second, maybe it’s my own nonconformity coming into play, but I see red flags when kids are placed in any program that is supposed to mint “clean, shiny” students. While the recitation and facts memorization is impressive (sure to put your doubting family members at ease), what if this doesn’t help your child reach their individual potential? Any program that promises “do a, b, c and see results x, y, z” makes me nervous.

    Third, the focus of CC is not Christian. I’ve had to hear over and over about the Classical Greek teaching method. My friends all participating in CC are Christian but somehow the lack of Christian focus in their curriculum doesn’t make them uneasy like it does me. One of the main reasons we homeschool is to give our kids a Christian foundation. What they do with that as adults will be their decision.

    In short, I believe the beauty of homeschooling is flexibility with scheduling, curriculum, etc. Joining a CC group is a huge way to limit just that.
    I’m looking forward to reading your research.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. D – thank you for modeling to commenters on how not to follow instructions. You are now in the doghouse for not complying with my request above. You do not get to go to a new post and disrupt it with issues you are having from another post. Keep it on the original post, please (for the 2nd time).

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  8. I’m very interested to see the comments on this post. We just joined a Classical Conversations group in a neighboring town and will be starting this fall with my oldest. As a homeschool graduate, who has seen the good and also the very bad of homeschooling, I’m trying to enter this with my eyes wide open.

    One of the things that drew me to it was how they say the want “to know God and make Him known.” And also I do love the vision they presented in the informational meeting of why all the memorization will be so important in the later years. However, any whiff of connection with Doug Wilson would totally put me off. I will be watching very closely. Also any attitude of “this is the only way” will have me heading for the door. I’m sure, just like anything in life, the people who lead and comprise the group have a lot to do with whether there are problems or abuse.

    On a side note,Spiritual Sounding Board has been a refuge for me and a place to learn and recover from being in a church that my husband calls a cult. I am now in a healthy church and relearning so much. Thank you for all you guys do!!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Wow! Thank you so much for this post and allowing people like me, who have been involved in Classical Conversations, a safe place to discuss. I will post my story at a later time, but for now I am looking forward to the discussion.

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  10. I know lots of people who start out using it a supplement (especially they younger years). But, by the time you get to middle school, you either have to choose CC or something else. Two of my kids have dyslexia, so I didn’t need to add “more” to our homeschool – just teaching them to read and memorize their math facts was challenging enough! I know a lot of people love it, though.

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  11. Thank you, Julie Anne. I’ve been waiting a long time for a place for these stories to come out. So grateful.

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  12. I loved studying Classical Latin & Greek as electives in university, and found ancient languages to be the perfect foil to my core program work. I love classical music and classic literature and classic art, and have a voracious appetite for world history of any era. But the surest way to permanently kill a child’s love for all such interesting and fascinating topics is to force feed it to him or her at too early an age and then expect the child to regurgitate it perfectly. When I see a young child who is invariably well behaved, well groomed, and uses an advanced vocabulary to spout advanced knowledge, I want to cry over them. If studying the world of classical music has taught me anything, it is that child prodigies crash and burn. See also: Mozart

    As a homeschooled child myself who spent nearly a decade in another infamous so-called Christian program, I met those child paragons of education who were prodigies in knowledge and ability. As their peer through adolescence and into young adulthood, I saw the facade their parents had built up around those unfortunate children crumble and the terrible secrets that lay hidden behind pour out. By the those children reached adulthood, the families lay in ruins, with siblings scattered and parents left alone.

    My parents initially made the decision to homeschool for purely academic, not religious reasons. My mother had been a public school teacher and taught us as she taught her students, and did a very good job. It wasn’t until they tried to decide what to do for high school that my parents got sucked into the maelstrom of ‘Christian’ homeschooling. To their credit, they remained always on the fringes of the program and never entered the inner circle of the ‘elite’ and neither did we, being always outshone by more obviously talented peers from other families. So, I remain positive about the potential of homeschooling, but every time I see a ‘Christian’ homeschooling program promising to raise a generation of culture warriors with superior knowledge, or words to that effect, I want raise the alarm.

    Homeschool, if you have the resources, abilities, and inclination to do so, and of your child/children would be better off in a less structured environment than in a classroom. Teach classical topics, if your children show an interest in learning them. But do not insist on producing perfect classical models to be displayed for all the world to see, for all you will get is frightening automatons who spout what you want to hear until the day they can get out from under your thumb, when they will hurl all that learning into your face and abandon all you stand for. Or, to put it in the words of Paul: “do not exasperate your children, in case they lose heart.” (Colossians 3:21)

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  13. Ahh, ok, Mark. I want to make sure we are only dealing with the group called “Classical Conversations,” not any other classical education school. It’s an important distinction. Thanks!

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  14. I am a former CC mom. I participated in it for 2 years. Each year was in a different group and even a different state (we moved that summer). It was not a good fit for me or my kids. I was stressed doing prep work, and they were lonely and isolated. My biggest issue was the superiority complex of the fellow moms. That they were making the best decision for their families and therefore, those other families, must not care as much about their children. When I knew I couldn’t go on and that we needed to choose a different path, but their sentiments lingered in my head. I felt like a failure for wanting out of it. Like I must not love my children. Nothing could be further from the truth, but I felt it nonetheless.

    My kids are in public school now and are thriving so much more than when we were in CC. I’m not saying CC is a bad program. It may fit well for some. It wasn’t for me and my kids. My main point is how it was built up to be something that you did if you really cared about your family. That was my concern after I dealt with the grief of leaving and had to speak some truth to myself. It’s an option. A different option. Not a better one.

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  15. We use curriculum from Calvert School (based in Maryland). It’s all long distance; no meeting in small groups. The materials are very good quality and covers all the subjects.

    One of the things we like about it is that it is not religious, and it teaches about different places and cultures. We do teach our children the Christian faith, but we don’t want some ultra-conservative homeschool group’s slant on it.

    The idea of teaching kids Latin is interesting, and I’m sure it has some benefits. My preference (and my parents’ preference back when I was being homeschooled) is Spanish. Modern Spanish is similar enough to Latin that it teaches you many of the root words and therefore helps you understand the structure of the English language more thoroughly, and it is also practical in the modern world. I’m a doctor, and I use Spanish almost every day at my job.

    I apologize for being a little off topic, but I wanted to mention an alternative in case anyone is looking for one.

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  16. This needs to be said, thank you for being a bright light for victims.
    My child was sexually abused by another child in C.C. Classical conversations.

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  17. I found out this week that the Essentials portion of CC (the afternoon class) uses a high school IEW format. IEW had no idea that they were forcing children to write High School papers in Elementary School 4-6th grades. They were not very happy that this is happening, thus causing hours and hours of writing homework each week that can burn out kids and parents at that age. It was very enlightening after years of tears and frustration.

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  18. Marsha, your pseudonym is cute and funny, but your personal story is not. It is because of you and others like you that this needs to be exposed. Thank you for commenting. I hope you will feel comfortable commenting more so people can understand how this could happen and what measures can and should be taken to minimize risks.

    I can tell that there is a code of silence among CC. I’ve already had several people contact me privately. There most definitely is a fear of speaking up. The Bible talks about things hidden in secret.

    Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops. Luke 12:2-3.

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  19. I think you did an excellent job summing up the issues with CC in your intro. Our family did CC for 7 years. I worked for CC for all of those years. Although I personally had a good experience while we did it, I live with a lot of regret. I know understand that not only did I commit tax fraud, CC knew that we were filing incorrectly and did nothing to warn us. They knew that it was too costly to hire lawyers to go over contracts we needed to sign and tax professionals to make sure we were following tax laws. If we did we would quickly find out that the business wasn’t would be too costly with too much personal risk.

    I regret the fact that I sold people on CC with the idea that it is just homeschool group when in reality it is a business. I regret all the hours that I put into CC because the corporation had me believing that I was a minister of the gospel when in reality they used me and my devotion to Christ to make them money. I regret watching the horrendous mishandling of problems where I did and said nothing because according to their version of Matthew 18 everything is either gossip or hearsay. They used my devotion to Christ against me and for their financial gain.

    can’t get those years back. I can’t give back to my family what I gave to CC as a ministry. I’ve heard so many people, especially those outside of leadership say that that must be a local problem. If you think that, I suggest you keep reading here and elsewhere. There is no way it could be contained to poor local leadership when very similar stories are shared from around the country with CC wording being used exactly.

    For those that are truly seeking the truth, I would suggest holding off on your tuition check until the Lord has given you peace to move forward. Going in with ‘eyes wide open’ won’t help you if you find yourself on the wrong side of the CC train. Just like a teenager- no one thinks it will happen to them until it does. So many sad stories about this company. I’m heartbroken my name was ever attached to it. And I’m one of the lucky ones that got out without horrible personal damage to myself or my family.

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  20. I’ve been living in silence for quite some time. I know that telling your story is part of the healing process and I want my hurtful experience with Classical Conversations to be heard so that it will help others. The harm that has been done to homeschool families and continues to be kept “secret” by this million dollar business called Classical Conversations SHOULD be “made known”. It’s truly sad that their executives and employees won’t listen and they choose to NOT participate in conversations that heal rather than hurt. Thank you for providing this safe place to share.

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  21. Marsha Mallow – 4th-6th graders writing at a high school level? That would have caused lots of tears and frustration in our home as well. My in-going senior in high school is only now beginning to write well at a high school level.

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  22. Thank you to everyone for sharing your experiences. I only heard about Classical Conversations toward the end of our homeschooling time. I am interested in hearing about how this program worked or did not work for you.

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  23. Yes, 9-12 year olds writing at high school, level 3-5 paragraphs weekly, typed with no errors, complete with key word outline with short hand. Then your paragraph must contain vocabulary words, dressups, sentence openers, complete intro, body and conclusion all the way up to essay writing to be presented while you’re dressed up in character and spoken to all the parents and grandparents of every student in the community, on the last week of class…

    Also on top writing weekly 3-5 paragraph papers, you have to spend time doing Esentials of the English Language EEL which is sentence diagramming and memorizing around 30 Charts (to be recreated only by memory) .

    On top of everything else. and the morning memory work. most nights we were writing until midnight or 2-3 am. Just to get up and do it all over again!

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  24. Following. Knowing many stories and having a part in a CC campus for many years, I am grateful there is a a space for voices to speak thier truth, for people to hear and for healing.

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  25. Thank you, JA. We homeschooled our oldest with CC, and my wife and I both served as leaders of Challenge A and B, respectively. We had a fairly positive experience overall: no problems with our group or those we worked. That group is now defunct. However, CC as a whole struck me a overly authoritarian and definitely encouraged the “CC is the only real way to homeschool” mentality.

    If memory serves me correctly, there are some tie-ins with Doug Wilson’s church in Moscow. Perhaps you are already aware of that. OR, conversely, I am not remembering things correctly.

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  26. We no longer attend CC, and were only a part of it for 2 years. I couldn’t keep going because of the corporate mentality that there is only one way to do everything, THEIR way, and it’s the best. This is clearly reflected in the current magazine/catalog. We had no issues with the communities – they were warm and welcoming, and we were all just trying to do our best for our kids. The business structure I do not agree with. The “ministry” message that they push seems grossly over stated, at best. It is a business, but markets as a ministry, which I don’t think is ethical.

    However, unlike Marsha Mellow, I did not find the IEW writing portion of Essentials overly burdensome at all. Perhaps the difference was in the tutors. And that we had previous IEW experience in our family. Our tutors stressed that we were to have the students do “EASY plus one”, which is Andrew Pudewa’s philosophy of mastering one thing at a time. The writing does build quickly, but it begins with one paragraph, and we worked on one paragraph at a time for quite awhile. I really love IEW and will use their programs in our homeschool in the future.

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  27. It sounds like there are some notable differences between the groups. That would explain why some people can have wonderful experiences and some can have not-so-pleasant experiences. I really appreciate the comments. It’s helping me to see the bigger picture as I am learning, too.

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  28. Marsha Mallow – The Essentials portion is one of the things I saw that wouldn’t work for our family. My oldest is dyslexic. He would be doing Essentials for the 19/20 school year, however he is still struggling heavily with reading and spelling. Thinking of adding in Essentials about had me in a panic attack! I cannot imagine asking that of him. When I spoke with others in CC, I was constantly told that I can make adjustments to make it work for us. The cost wouldn’t be worth it with the number of adjustments needed. I also know that he would be highly overwhelmed from the Community Day portion, even knowing I wasn’t going to ask him to complete it all. He’d also feel stupid that he wasn’t able to do the same work as the others. I WILL NOT set my children up for failure!

    The other thing I was constantly told was to “trust the system”. This phrase irritates me to no end. I will not blindly trust a system. Huge red flags when a curriculum supposedly teaches how to think and logic, but the users and employees of the company cannot give a logical or personal response, just reiterating talking points. Ugh!

    Cost is also a huge deterrent for us. As a family of 6 (and still growing), we cannot afford this program, especially in the “high school” years. With their ages, I will have all 4 in the Challenge years ad once, and the younger 3 in Challenge years for 3 years, and this is without any more children. This would be roughly $6,500-$7,000/year PLUS their books, math curriculum, and any other supplies needed. Even if we were rich, I have a very difficult time spending that much money to have someone else teach my children, for only 24 days. (My understanding is that I wouldn’t be involved much in the upper years as it’s all laid out already, and designed to be more self lead.) I could tutor/teach one of the Challenge levels and earn enough to cover tuition for them, but honestly, I have NO desire to do so!

    We did 2 years of CC, each with a different community as the first one split the following year. I was told they split due to growth, which would have been good, but I don’t believe that to be truth. It was not a full community. There were 2 Foundations classes and no Essentials either. This decision was made before there was enough interest from new families to justify a new community. I was speaking with a director in the area about it this spring. I was told there were 2-3 new communities opening in the area, but so many existing that weren’t yet full. The new commities cause families to constantly shift and move. This distupts the community feel and connections made with families. Highly frustrating. When I asked the director why this was happening, she said that she didn’t know for sure, but speculated it was because the person above her (support rep, I believe) would earn a bonus for having x number of new communities open each year. The community aspect and growing up together was a HUGE factor for us joining CC. I moved a lot as a kid and want my kids to have solid lasting friendships.

    Sorry this was not as coherent as it could have been.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. It sounds like Marsha Mallow’s group accidentally got the “Advanced” history-based writing books from IEW. The regular history-based writing books are 3rd to 6tg grade level.

    That highlights an issue with CC in general, though. Confusion abounds. I think because of the way the business is set up. Almost nobody at the local level are CC employees, so there’s no really good way to ensure uniformity of experience.

    But I want to talk about the spiritual abuse I’ve witnessed. I’ll make a separate comment about that when I have the energy. It’s a devastating thing to watch.

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  30. @JulieAnne:

    The Bible talks about things hidden in secret.

    Getting all Classical here, but isn’t “things hidden in secret” the original definition of “The OCCULT”?

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  31. @MarshaMallow:

    Yes, 9-12 year olds writing at high school, level 3-5 paragraphs weekly, typed with no errors, complete with key word outline with short hand. Then your paragraph must contain vocabulary words, dressups, sentence openers, complete intro, body and conclusion all the way up to essay writing to be presented while you’re dressed up in character and spoken to all the parents and grandparents of every student in the community, on the last week of class…

    Sounds like something out of Christian Debate Class (twirl those-pens!) or Douggie ESQUIRE’s Vision Forum.

    I’m a former Cold War Kid Genius, diagnosed two years after Sputnik and fast-tracked for the next 12-13 years. (As a living weapon in the Cold War instead of the Culture Wars.) Utter Perfection such as that described above was the MINIMUM expected of me — “You’re supposed to be a GENIUS!” — for those 12-13 years. It almost killed me.

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  32. JA: Students can participate in fun activities together from science projects, to memory work, speech and debate, and mock trials.

    I am reading this with interest. I was not homeschooled, but know some family who are being homeschooled. I am concerned for their education. Is this an attempt to get the things homeschoolers miss compared to public school or promoted as ‘better than’ public school? (speech, debate, mock trails, etc were thing I did in school so curious)

    roscuro: When I see a young child who is invariably well behaved, well groomed, and uses an advanced vocabulary to spout advanced knowledge, I want to cry over them.

    😦

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  33. Sounds like something out of Christian Debate Class (twirl those-pens!)

    HUG beat me to the pen twirlers! I don’t know if they were homeschooled, though, just that they went to debate camp.

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  34. NotTrustingTheSystem: speculated it was because the person above her (support rep, I believe) would earn a bonus for having x number of new communities open each year.

    Ugh. Like MLM?

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  35. So sorry to hear of all these bad experiences.

    We homeschooled for 25 years (youngest graduated in 2014) and for most of those years we followed a Classical Christian education model. We used many resources and curriculums over the years, however never committed to CC.
    (By the time HS came around we used another classical Great Books curriculum which I would never use now knowing what I know.)

    Even within our local classical discussion group, I remember an attitude of superiority (a common denominator both with children and parents) and the pressure that this was the best method around. It even spilled over into questioning whether some were even “real” Christians or not.

    I remember the pressure as a homeschooler to do our best and wanted the best for our kids. But each child and family is unique and that’s not something to apologize for or try and “fix” or fit into a pre-shaped mold.

    The connection with Doug Wilson materials is a red flag and I wonder how much Dominionism influences this program. In retrospect, I wish I had understood better the foundational beliefs of any homeschooled curriculum resource we used.

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  36. I’ve never been a part of Classical Conversations, but the list of problems cited by JA reads to me like a list of concerns I’d have with any fundamental or evangelical church. Since homeschooling is primarily fundagelical, this does not surprise me at all.

    To draw a picture, the local homeschooling group my family is currently a member of is trying to address the concern of sexual abuse by starting background checks for coaches and the like, and we’re getting some pushback on that. So it is no surprise to me that Classical Conversations would, in at least some of its local groups, have the same kind of issues.

    The trick is whether the national organization will be willing to protect its brand by putting some measures to reduce these tendencies, in the same way that there is a lot of work and prayer to be done to persuade local churches and ministries to do the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. @NotTrustingTheSystem:
    @Lea:

    When I asked the director why this was happening, she said that she didn’t know for sure, but speculated it was because the person above her (support rep, I believe) would earn a bonus for having x number of new communities open each year.

    “Gonna jive my way
    To the Top of the Pyramid,
    The Top of the Pyramid,
    Gonna get my name on top of that List…”
    — Old Dr Demento song about Pyramid Rackets, never made it to YouTube

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Lea,

    Yes, like MLM.

    The people upline from the directors (directors run the actual class groups) are support reps and above them are area reps. I hear they have sales quotas and get paid on commission from how many seats they sell in the directors’ groups downline from them. They also get bonuses for other things like CC’s practicum and stuff like that.

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  39. Pingback: Classical Conversations: What Led You to Join Classical Conversations? #ClassicalConvMadeKnown | Spiritual Sounding Board

  40. Thank you for the interesting discussion. As a classroom teacher of almost 40 years, I find the desire to homeschool interesting, especially as I often get fourth or fifth grade former homeschoolers at the private school where I work. The parents either feel they are done with their homeschooling experience, often because they feel their children don’t have enough social involvement, or that they can’t keep up with their kids pace of learning (I work in a school for gifted children).

    As to Classical Conversations, which I became aware of this this year because my church has a group that seems to function very well-why would parents even consider this program for children with learning differences? it appears very rigid and one-size-fits all from the comments i’ve read. I couldn’t imagine putting a dyslexic child through Latin grammar exercises, or diagramming sentences, which require so many sophisticated spelling and directional (in the case of sentence diagramming) skills. It just sounds like a recipe of frustration to me.

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  41. Hi Linn: Hopefully we will all get more informed as people share their experiences. I just put up a new post that asks about the draw to this particular group. Thanks for your comment!

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  42. I can’t find anything that mentions a history with Doug Wilson. CC looks like it was started by a Mom in the early 1980s.

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  43. This feels like a “safe” place to share my experience. We are a military family living overseas in Germany, where homeschooling is illegal for nationals, but protected for Americans under SOFA. We joined CC for the community aspect. That being said, it was told to me initially that it was illegal for CC to charge in Germany due to homeschooling being illegal in this country (I have not personally investigated the accuracy of this.) We also cannot operate in military chapels as a for-profit company. So, our first year, there were no fees outside of supply fees. The second year, as CC corporate became more frustrated with not being able to charge, they implemented a mandatory video we had to purchase in order to participate in community at $150. Again, we faced the issue of now being for-profit in a military chapel. This year we were told that we should disregard the military regulations about being a for-profit operating in a military chapel, as all other communities through Germany are disregarding and not admitting a for-profit status to their sponsoring chapel. And CC corporate will be charging a per child registration fee similar to programs in the states.

    Directors still need to pay a director fee, while all directors and tutors are solely volunteers in Germany (no pay can be earned in Germany.) When the majority of us questioned why we were paying to have the CC name while being volunteers running the program, we were told by the current director (moving this summer back to the states) that it wasn’t up to us as the membership to decide whether to operate as an unofficial group instead of an official group . . . that this was up to CC corporate to decide. We were also “warned” against meeting together unofficially and using CC material. The workaround to “following” military regulations is to create a private organization to umbrella the for-profit CC group. There are so many other details of how dark CC corporate has played out in the military communities here in Germany, but my personal experience has led me to understand CC as an unethical business that is solely interested in the bottom line.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. TB,

    I think it’s not so much that “the mom” who started CC in the 80s sprung from the head of Doug Wilson as much as that they are mutual admirers of one another.

    In her books, she quotes him. And on her “main” book, Doug Wilson’s recommendation is highlighted.

    “In a time when many parents are rediscovering the classical methods of education, whether at home or in the classroom, it is heartening to see more and more educators studying, applying, and refining these methods. This book by Leigh Bortins is admirable part of that project, and I commend it to you.” ―Douglas Wilson, author of The Case for Classical Christian Education

    Liked by 1 person

  45. My experience in three different communities has been positive. I have tutored both Foundations and Essentials, but I’m not part of the corporate hierarchy. Doug Wilson’s books are in the bookstore because CC is a classical program. There are also books by Dorothy Sayers and Susan Wise Bauer. I have never drunk the CC Kool Aid, and I know they are in it for profit, but I am okay with that. My directors have always been super supportive of tutors and families, but admittedly, I’ve never had a concern that needed to be addressed. I know of several families who had to move mid-year and were refunded their tuition because they were unable to continue.

    As for Essentials, this is from IEW’s website for the books we use: “Perfect for homeschoolers, homeschool co-ops, tutors, and hybrid schools, this theme-based writing curriculum supports parents and teachers in teaching writing to elementary and middle school students (grades 4–7).” We as E tutors always stress easy plus one, per Pudewa’s suggestion. We stress that parents hang out where their child is comfortable as long as necessary. We also never require anything, our whole training is focused on “I am simply the tutor, the parent is the teacher.” The parent can have the child write the entire five paragraph essay or stick with one solid paragraph (or nothing at all, actually). The parent determines how to scale the assignment for their child’s needs and ability. I don’t even collect papers in my class, it is mom’s job to read, critique, and grade.

    I’m sure there are horror stories about CC, I’m not naive, but my personal experience has been great. To the person above who said their child had homework, Foundation tutors do not assign homework. If they are doing that, they are going way rogue from the CC model. Class is intended to present the new grammar for the week (for parents to flesh out at home), review the previous seven weeks grammar, science experiment, a fine arts component, and presentations. No one is ever forced to do anything, my own kids have not come with presentations when our lives are super-crazy, and I’m a tutor. I love the flexibility I’ve seen in my own communities. There are people that are all-in, triple crown Memory Masters and there are families that use it as a spine and a place to be with friends. I’ve never felt like either groups are shamed or ostracized. Maybe I’ve just been blessed with three amazing communities, but I thought I’d share some of the good :).

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  46. My experience in three different communities has been positive. I have tutored both Foundations and Essentials, but I’m not part of the corporate hierarchy. Doug Wilson’s books are in the bookstore because CC is a classical program. There are also books by Dorothy Sayers and Susan Wise Bauer. I have never drunk the CC Kool Aid, and I know they are in it for profit, but I am okay with that. My directors have always been super supportive of tutors and families, but admittedly, I’ve never had a concern that needed to be addressed. I know of several families who had to move mid-year and were refunded their tuition because they were unable to continue.

    As for Essentials, this is from IEW’s website for the books we use: “Perfect for homeschoolers, homeschool co-ops, tutors, and hybrid schools, this theme-based writing curriculum supports parents and teachers in teaching writing to elementary and middle school students (grades 4–7).” We as E tutors always stress easy plus one, per Pudewa’s suggestion. We stress that parents hang out where their child is comfortable as long as necessary. We also never require anything, our whole training is focused on “I am simply the tutor, the parent is the teacher.” The parent can have the child write the entire five paragraph essay or stick with one solid paragraph (or nothing at all, actually). The parent determines how to scale the assignment for their child’s needs and ability. I don’t even collect papers in my class, it is mom’s job to read, critique, and grade.

    I’m sure there are horror stories about CC, I’m not naive, but my personal experience has been great. To the person above who said their child had homework, Foundation tutors do not assign homework. If they are doing that, they are going way rogue from the CC model. Class is intended to present the new grammar for the week (for parents to flesh out at home), review the previous seven weeks grammar, science experiment, a fine arts component, and presentations. No one is ever forced to do anything, my own kids have not come with presentations when our lives are super-crazy, and I’m a tutor. I love the flexibility I’ve seen in my own communities. There are people that are all-in, triple crown Memory Masters and there are families that use it as a spine and a place to be with friends. I’ve never felt like either groups are shamed or ostracized. Maybe I’ve just been blessed with three amazing communities, but I thought I’d share some of the good :).

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  47. I am so sorry so many have had such horrible experiences with Classical Conversations.

    I really appreciate how respectful of others the comments here have been so far despite differing opinions.

    I want to begin by saying I am a director of a community so I do get some compensation. (Though after tuition is paid for my students, I use a decent amount to put back into our community to offset some things for my families like the facility fees as wells as adding a few fun extras that aren’t covered by supply fees.)

    For my family, CC has been wonderful. One of the things I love about homeschooling is that you do what is best for each child and for us that has been Classical Conversations. It may not always be, but until the Lord leads us in a different direction CC is our curriculum of choice. That doesn’t mean other programs are inferior, just means they arent right for US. If it ever seems like I am pushing CC on someone, it is because it is something I have found that works and I’d rather someone said no rather than not know about something that could be a good fit for their family, too. I just love our little community of families and our time together and want everyone to have something like this!

    I fully believe that your experience depends on your community. I am lucky enough to be part of a group filled with lots and lots of grace and flexibility. We had a major conflict this past year and it was dealt with in such a way that I believe made our community better. In the last four years, we have only had two families move on and that was due to family relocations. I don’t think it is only because of how amazing the director is that families are sticking around :D.

    One of the things I appreciate about Classical Conversations is that they DON’T have Bible as part of the curriculum so that we parents can decide in which direction to go.

    The Essentials program is tough, but good and I believe it to be age appropriate. Andrew Pudewa from IEW has specifically designed a portion of curriculum specifically for CC and the 4th-6th graders, so I’m not sure what the comment about IEW being upset about the level at which it was used. Perhaps it was not utilized properly in that community?

    I have read that some don’t believe CC actually lets the parents be the teacher. Our essentials tutor especially has been so good with this. She explains what the plan is for the week, but reiterates it is up to parents as to how much the children do or put into it. She doesn’t grade or have kids turn in things unless parents ask her to look over their kids’ work.

    For those who are not having a good experience with CC, I would like to encourage you to talk to your director about any issues that are going on. If the issue is beyond him/her, go up the ladder. You should have been provided with names, phone numbers, and email addresses for the people up the chain of command.

    For anyone considering CC, meet with several families from the community to get a feel for what the atmosphere is. Visit several communities if there is more than one close to you. DO NOT join a community that doesn’t have and enforce good safety procedures (ex, no two are ever alone, there must always be at least 2 adults with any number of children, etc). Also, small communities can be lovely so don’t overlook one just because they arent close to maxing out.

    I don’t know anything about Doug Wilson or his influence in CC, but it is something I will be researching.

    As with anything, there are things I would like to change about Classical Conversations and some things (more on the business/director side of things) that don’t make sense, but for me, the good certainly outweighs the bad!

    Thank you for letting me be part of this discussion.

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  48. Germany Survivor, You are sure dealing with unique circumstances with the different laws in Germany. Thank you very much for sharing.

    If CC is not playing by the rules in all countries, this is certainly problematic.

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  49. Lynn – I changed your user name to Lynn2 because we have another Lynn who posts here. It’s important to me that people know who they are talking to – even if they are using a pseudonym. If you want it changed to something else, please let me know – or else continue to use Lynn2. Thanks!

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  50. We are community members and are planning on returning in the fall. We love the program and have enjoyed the time with friends. My son really thrives in the environment and loves all he learned. However, there is a lot I have discovered about corporate that makes me unquiet and frustrated.

    I have considered tutoring, but am uneasy because most directors treat tutors as independent contractors, but the method in which you work and “best practices” are completely dictated by CC. You must attend their training and do things how they tell you. They use loopholes like best practice instead of saying it has to be done a certain way, but the underlying message is clear. I feel like tutors are truly employees with no freedom to control your work like an IC. Makes me wonder at the integrity of how tutors are classified and if it is fair to the tutor and honest for the director.

    I once had a concern about their CC Connected platform and asked a number of questions for clarity. Not a single one was answered and I was essentially dismissed and told to talk to my director.

    Some handwriting books being sold are not compatible with the new Foundations guides, but there are no warnings explicitly telling parents that (just a note that it is compatible with the 4th edition) and the CC book sellers are still selling them at events with no warning to parents. That rubbed me the wrong way.

    I also feel like CC opens communities and does not help them grow. We are a not full community and instead of helping the director to help us grow, they are allowing another to be opened less than eight miles away.

    I just really hate the feeling I get of management pretending to listen, but not really caring. It is an odd feeling because I have never experienced it before with a company. I wonder if it goes to the fact that they think they are the only way, so they have trouble admitting error or accepting constructive criticism. I also think they try to be big a ministry and business and that frustrates people.

    There have been people who pointed out a number of errors in the Essentials guide and our tutor told us that they were told that CC would pray about when to release them as a document to parents, letting them know of a lost of those errors. It is really hard to teach grammar to my son with the answers being wrong and CC knowing it, but not sharing it. There are also a number of errors in the new 5th edition Foundations and I have heard no plans for an error sheet before community starts.

    I also can not stand the answer “trust the method” (and on the same note “stick in the sand”). It is incredibly rude and dismissive to the question asker, who is genuinely seeking answers. It seems to be a cop out to me for them to not answer questions. I trust in Christ alone and that requires me to question methods and make sure I am not led astray.

    There is lack of consistency in applying their own rules and no oversight of campuses to make sure they are honoring these rules and sticking to the vision. Growing too fast and lack of communication downward seems to be a problem.

    They also threaten way too much if someone says anything negative and I feel they make false claims (but I am no lawyer) about what you can do (and can not do) with the curriculum once you own it.

    The bookstore (besides still selling 4th edition material not clearly marked as such) is wonderful at service and is quick to help with problems if you have one.

    I really love the environment we are in, so I hate this inner turmoil I feel about corporate.

    Locally, people are wonderful and I am happy to be a part of the group. I have great friends and have really enjoyed it. Nationally, it seems to get a lot more contentious and elitist, so I avoid those Facebook groups. The time I spent there on FB last year really did not give me the best impression of the group as a whole. Articles posted were mocking and just seemingly posted to make the group feel good about itself and pat their own backs. Any challenge or question of CC (or even some political opinions that were not the majorities) was met with negativity (and mocking in many cases), which is sad for a Christ centered group. My local group is inclusive and diverse, but that same feeling does not extend what I witnessed on the national FB group. CC should really monitor it better. It makes a terrible impression of them.

    So I remain torn. Day to day and in our group, it is wonderful. But, I am really struggling with the corporation as a whole. I will be praying over this.

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  51. @Marsha

    Yes, 9-12 year olds writing at high school, level 3-5 paragraphs weekly, typed with no errors, complete with key word outline with short hand. Then your paragraph must contain vocabulary words, dressups, sentence openers, complete intro, body and conclusion all the way up to essay writing to be presented while you’re dressed up in character and spoken to all the parents and grandparents of every student in the community, on the last week of class…

    Wait, that’s considered high school level? I was homeschooled from 2nd grade all the way through 12th, and my A-Beka homeschool books in the 90s were having me start that in late middle school, and definitely in junior high school. CC did not exist back then, to my knowledge. By the time I was in high school, I was doing college-level writing, and I didn’t even know it. It gave me the impression that college must be really hard if my high school textbooks were this demanding, so I was kind of scared to start college wondering if I wouldn’t be good enough of a student.

    Then, miracle of miracles, I found college to be stupidly easy. (Except for my core comp. sci. and math classes, of course.) Turning in papers for GE courses felt like a waste-of-time chore. The teachers were always shocked that I wrote such nice papers. I remember one history professor saying to me, “Thank you for caring so much.” I actually didn’t care and was too busy trying to juggle three jobs and a full-time course load with very demanding comp. sci. and math classes. And yet she thought I must have actually been interested in what I was writing. Scary, when you think of what some of the other students must have been turning in.

    So, I suppose I have mixed feelings. I wish somebody had told me that college would not be scary and that I was already doing college-level work, perhaps as early as junior high. I also wish I could have skipped more grades and just gone to college and been done with it so I could start work sooner and earn money rather than having years of my life wasted doing redundant work with no college credits awarded.

    I also would like some of my childhood back. It took a lot of hours a day doing all that homework and sometimes through the evening. It probably didn’t help that I had undiagnosed ADD (which my public school never caught in kindergarten or first grade, even though it was in front of their faces and the teachers complained about how spacey I was). On the other hand, I don’t think my mom (bless her heart) understood that teachers in school, including in college, don’t assign every single homework problem at the end of a section/chapter. This especially bit me in math. I had to do the same stupid redundant problem over and over again. Every single one. Teachers in college would only assign a third or up to half of what I did in elementry through high school. I know I had ADD, but seriously, maybe it wasn’t my fault after all that I preferred staring at a white wall to doing my math homework? Maybe these home school textbooks should come with a warning on the front to parents that assigning every single homework problem is not the point? That they’re just examples of what you could assign? I honestly think that my mom didn’t know any better.

    However, as a caveat, I hear a lot of parents in my workplace complaining that public schools these days are assigning so much homework that their kids have no down-time. So maybe I don’t feel so bad or treated unfairly after all. I dunno. My mom did try her best, and she did pretty good overall. My homework hours did shrink as I got older, as I think my mom realized she might have been overdoing things a little. I also enjoyed being in my pajamas all day. And being able to go to Knott’s Berry Farm on a weekday when it wasn’t crowded, and making it up on Saturday with school. 🙂

    Back on topic. I’m sorry to all who have suffered a cult-like mentality. I am horrified finding so many stories of bad homeschooling experiences. Even with my own experience (overall positive), I’d say that my textbooks were still biased in some bad ways, and were merely brainwashing me in the opposite direction of the public schools. They weren’t at Bob Jones level (we narrowly dodged that bullet), but the A-Beka curriculum definitely had the girls-must-wear-skirts-four-feet-past-their-ankles vibe, and the Biblical-culture-warrior-preserve-our-“Christian”-nation vibe. And the white-washing of Reformers and the gross anti-Catholic slant.

    As for trivium or whatever it’s called, I did once come across a YouTube video about it. It seemed mostly benign, but a lot of this stuff could be learned in debate class. Also, I wonder if people realize that Classical Greek debating / oration involved deliberate use of ad hominem attacks and exaggeration of your opponent’s beliefs to win the debate / persuade your audience? If trivium is teaching Classical Greek debate style / oration, then it’s just going to teach kids to manipulate their audience. Raising the next generation of manipulative pastors and culture-warrior politicians, eh? I think it’s good to teach children to detect when they are being manipulated. It’s not good to teach them that it’s okay to do it themselves.

    Also, I was under the impression that trivium did NOT involve rote memory and repeating of facts, but was supposed to teach kids what to do with facts and to use logic / critical thinking skills. So why is CC (based on the posts above) assigning so much rote memorization homework? That defeats the whole purpose, doesn’t it?

    And as someone who has spent countless hours doing rote memorization math problems, just to forget all that math anyway because I don’t use it at work after all, I am all for alternative learning methods to boring, redundant homework! Sad that educators of any stripe still don’t seem to get it. Solving the same equation over and over does. not. make. someone. better. at. their. job. in. the. future. or . any. smarter. If I ever have kids, I might consider a Montessori school, if it truly does let them learn at their own pace without boring them to death. Kids should be excited about learning, not bored.

    Sorry for the long post. Thought a home-schooled adult’s perspective might be helpful, even if it’s only tangential to CC.

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  52. I am finding the overwhelming number of posts that are off topic from people who have not been in CC to be extremely distracting to the core issues that people really have with CC. From what I read this was suppose to about is Classical Conversations. Not the merits or non merits of classical education or Doug Wilson. The true story is getting lost.

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  53. How do you separate CC specifically against what comes from American Evangelicalism and what comes from generic Classical or even Christian schooling philosophy?

    Without the spiritual baggage, I’m sure that CC is just another reasonable choice in the spectrum of homeschooling options.

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  54. The trivium actually emphasizes three stages of learning based on development, grammar (elementary), dialectic (middle), and rhetoric (high). These ages are a rough estimate and overlap. During the grammar stage kids are able to absorb extraordinary amounts of information. CC calls this pounding in the pegs. These pegs are used later when they enter the dialectic and rhetoric stages, they have the information and now they begin to question and make it their own.

    Liked by 1 person

  55. clockworkangel:Also, I wonder if people realize that Classical Greek debating / oration involved deliberate use of ad hominem attacks and exaggeration of your opponent’s beliefs to win the debate / persuade your audience? If trivium is teaching Classical Greek debate style / oration, then it’s just going to teach kids to manipulate their audience. Raising the next generation of manipulative pastors and culture-warrior politicians, eh?

    This is a very interesting point! Hmm.

    I don’t think my public school debate taught us to attack in that sort of way (more to answer people’s arguments with evidence) but I remember in a very negative way a pair we debated who were jerks like that. Not saying they were exceptional or anything, but very rude in a way that was unusual. Now I’m wondering.. is this why people think they are awesome when they ‘debate’ by repeating the same stuff and calling people names?

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  56. The people upline from the directors (directors run the actual class groups) are support reps and above them are area reps. I hear they have sales quotas and get paid on commission from how many seats they sell in the directors’ groups downline from them. They also get bonuses for other things like CC’s practicum and stuff like that.

    That sure sounds like a MLM. Perhaps it would be good to do a post on this so people can share. I wonder how many people know this?

    Liked by 1 person

  57. I am finding the overwhelming number of posts that are off topic from people who have not been in CC to be extremely distracting to the core issues that people really have with CC. From what I read this was suppose to about is Classical Conversations. Not the merits or non merits of classical education or Doug Wilson. The true story is getting lost.

    This blog is where people have the opportunity to share their stories and interact with others. Part of what you see going on is my regular readers trying to understand classical education, CC, and how Doug Wilson is involved. Please give them time to understand. They are trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together in their minds.
    There is good reason they are concerned about Doug Wilson. He has a history of spiritual abuse, mishandling sexual abuse cases and treating women as objects for men’s sexual gratification (do a search for him on my blog, or look for his name in the categories and you will find posts I’ve done).

    While I do plan on doing quite a few more posts on Classical Conversations, I will also continue with other unrelated posts. I’m sure glad all of you are here and value your input in the CC conversation. I hope you find this benefits you in some way or another. I learn so much from my readers. I obviously am no expert on CC, I’m just providing this forum so that people can share what they’ve tried to share, but have not been able to (for various reasons).

    By the way, I do not shut comments down on any posts, so people are free to continue posting on them even when there are new posts. This is especially helpful when people discover them later on and want to comment. You can request to follow specific posts and comments.

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  58. I almost forgot – last night I deleted a comment that dealt with a child sex abuse case. I contacted the commenter because I could tell she was pretty upset. Sometimes things are said in the heat of emotion that they later regret, so I removed it. She was fine with me removing it. But because this comment involved others, I want to make sure we do things right. I’m all about protecting victims first here. So, if you got that in your e-mail, please, out of respect for this mom, disregard it. We will be addressing it eventually with clear heads and with a clear purpose. Thank you for your understanding.

    Like

  59. Glad I got out,
    As Julie Anne noted, many of us have some history in these areas and now recognize patterns of abusive behaviors, and in this case a homeschool curriculum support/training group. The abusive behavior in some groups of CC is unfortunately common and not limited to CC. Having a support group like SSB where we can share experiences is so helpful. The stories of hurt in CC need to be shared and heard, and many of us have similar stories too, and we want to send out warnings where we feel necessary.

    In my case, when I was new to classical education back in the 90’s I read a few of Doug Wilson’s books and have used curriculums which recommended many of his books as resources. I came away with the impression he was a prideful bully (no surprise his tag line for his blog is Theology that Bites Back). Doug Wilson would never be a resource I would ever want to use. However, he has a big influence in the classical education area which can be hard to avoid.

    Liked by 1 person

  60. This post has now been out there long enough that we’re starting to hear some infamous – what I call – “CC Dis-missives”.

    You may hear things like:

    “CC isn’t perfect. No curriculum/Christian organization/person is.”

    This is a special plea to dismiss egregiously bad behavior because, well, bad behavior in general exists everywhere. This both illogical and offensive to the people who have been egregiously harmed.

    “This sounds like a local issue,” or “This sounds like one or two overzealous CC representatives going off the rails.”

    No. It’s not simply that. It’s corporately systemic, and I know it is because I have listened to or witnessed more than 100 stories of emotional, spiritual, physical, even sexual abuse from people all over this great United States of America. Unless what you mean by “It’s local” is that it’s happening in America, then, no, it’s not “a local problem”.

    “You just sound angry.”

    I’m definitely angry – or at least have been. Please see my reference above to the hundreds of stories of abuse I’ve heard. However, I have my very own story of horrible abuse of the power to terrorize a Christian homeschooling mom that doesn’t even have to do with what happened at my old CC campus!

    After speaking out about CC for about a year, I received a legal threat letter, written by a law firm hired by CC, Inc. to scare me into silence or they might have no choice but to sue me – a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom – for injunctive and monetary relief.

    This is the company whose contracts bind their workers to arbitration but retain the right of the hiring party to sue in a court of law. Matthew 18? Peacemakers?! That’s for the plebeians, not for those in the CC catbird seat!

    “Angry words/actions aren’t very Christ-like.”

    Jesus said and did some pretty “angry” things when it had to do with people (usually elistist religious folks) taking advantage of other people (usually the lowlier religious folks).

    John 2:15
    “Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.”

    Matthew 18:6
    “If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

    Matthew 23:27
    “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.”

    Whoa, Jesus! Slow down there. You sound angry.

    “There is a time and a place to bring these issues up, but the internet is not that place. You should take it up with your local leadership. You should go ‘up the chain’ properly. You should follow Matthew 18 and take it directly to CC.”

    Done. Done with witnesses. And I was dismissed, ignored, threatened, and then ignored some more.

    Read Matthew 18:15-17:
    “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

    What’s that third step? “Tell it to the church.” Exegetical analyses tend to agree that the Greek word for “church” used here (Ecclesia) means the “society of believers at large”. That third step is, put very simply, exposure.

    And that, my internet society of believers at large, is what I aim to do.

    (side note: I don’t believe Matthew 18 ever should be used in a business setting in which there is clearly an imbalance of power. I’m just pointing out that even if I did accept your bastardization of the concept of Matthew 18, I’m STILL playing by your own rules.)

    Liked by 1 person

  61. Worked for CC. In Community for 3 years…. held a few different positions. CC is not an MLM of any sort. Directors and SRs barely make any money and work ALOT. The majority of the money goes to corporate (27% of the income). Tutors and Directors are required to pay tuition for their children as well, even if they are teaching them in their class.

    There is a lot of control and fear in the hierarchy of CC and it is NOT okay to question it. Leigh Bortins doesn’t run it any longer; her son Robert has for the last 4 years. However, she still gets 50% of the income the company receives. SRs do get a “commission” but it is very hard to achieve.. the goals are honestly next to impossible.

    The biggest issue was the liability the Directors had upon them and didn’t even know it. SRs are required by contract to buy liability insurance. Directors are never told to get any, so if anything goes wrong in a community, guess who can be held legally responsible? The Directors! And they don’t tell them this at all. Also, they are a for profit corporation who covertly sells themselves as a non-profit. Churches are beginning to not want the communities in any longer.

    As for the community I was in, the new director my first year was a control freak! She told us how to breathe, practically. She was so uptight that the community was talking about going rogue. Over half the community left the following year and then half of it left the following year. So many have been burnt by her and the “higher ups” think she is great. I had to walk away for the safety of my family. I found out much of this information while in my position and finished out the year, never to return. Nobody knows I know all this…. it’s nice to be able to get this out and off my chest..

    Liked by 1 person

  62. More time was spent in AR/SR/Director training hearing examples of “issues” in community, and how to “apply” Matthew 18 to the situation, than there EVER was explaining how one should run their CC business. Questions regarding taxes, LLC, liability and other IMPORTANT topics were ALWAYS deferred and NEVER EVER discussed. “You’ll need to speak to an accountant or lawyer about THAT”. Most “just a homeschool moms” could NEVER afford an accountant or lawyer. I WISH I had spent that money in the beginning. I never would have signed on the dotted line if I had known what I was getting into and I would have saved THOUSANDS of dollars. 😦

    Like

  63. Just a question-
    Tiger Mommy said:
    “CC is not an MLM of any sort. Directors and SRs barely make any money and work ALOT… SRs do get a “commission” but it is very hard to achieve.. the goals are honestly next to impossible.”

    This has similarities to how MLMs operate, in that only those at the top rung make any money, everyone else works a lot for free and can never achieve enough to see a return for their labor. Is there a financial incentive to get others to sign up?

    Like

  64. This has similarities to how MLMs operate, in that only those at the top rung make any money, everyone else works a lot for free and can never achieve enough to see a return for their labor. Is there a financial incentive to get others to sign up?

    This is what I was thinking too. MLM make you think you’re going to make a lot of money but only a few really do. It’s mostly a lot of people buying stuff and recruiting others and guilting people into buying stuff at parties. This is a little different because the tuition is what you’re selling I guess. Very curious about the pay/fee structures.

    Like

  65. Shy1,

    That answer always confuses me, too. The fact that those at the lower levels work for peanuts and never make enough while some group near the top is making millions strengthens the MLM comparison. I think the breakdown is in people still somehow thinking that lower level sales reps in MLMs make money, when the statistics say 99.7% of people who sign up to sell products in an MLM LOSE money.
    (search for: The Case (for and) against Multi-level Marketing – Federal Trade Commission)

    And, yes. Every “lower level” worker (director, support rep (SR), and area rep (AR)) makes more money, however little it is, for more students enrolled.

    I don’t know how people are paid at the employee level (multi-state sales managers and up), so perhaps the MLM comparison breaks down there. I guess, at best, CC looks like an MLM/franchise hybrid which calls itself neither (and I’m pretty sure follows FTC guidelines for neither either).

    Like

  66. Loolamay, but to be clear for anyone else looking this up in the future the TUTORS don’t make more and more .. they max out at being paid for 8 kids in a class, and can actually make LESS if four more kids join the community, increasing the number of classes such that a 4th tutor is added and the kids and money split more ways with less-than-full classes.

    Like

  67. Kami, YES! Thank you. I failed to mention tutors. They don’t make money for “selling seats”.

    But tutors are in a weird category, because they are the only ones that are not licensed by or work directly for CC. They work for their directors. Here’s another place the MLM comparison breaks down and the franchise comparison kicks in. I’ve heard CC “local leadership” compare tutors working for directors to “people who work at a Chic-Fil-A” – presumably explaining how/why these tutors can be told essentially by the CC corporation exactly how to tutor, down to very specific details. Because… even though a Chic-Fil-A worker might work for the owner of that location, the worker still has to do things the Chic-Fil-A way.

    It would be a great analogy if CC embraced a franchise model and all tutors were hired as employees and not independent contractors.

    But… they don’t embrace a franchise model. I’m shocked such high up CC workers such as our former regional manager (now called sales manager) would use the analogy. Makes me wonder if even the managers of the managers understand the CC business model.

    Like

  68. Here’s what I’m going to do. I’d like to have one post for the various topics: one for practicum, one for the leadership structure, etc. That way it’s somewhat organized and people reading the article titles can see what to expect in the comments. There will be overlap as conversations naturally do that. But the CC team will be keeping track of important and informational comments and putting them together in a file. Eventually, what we will do is move those important comments into a permanent page so that people who want to understand the ins and outs of CC will have it all in one place and organized.

    A note to CC leadership because I know you are reading here: this is what happens when you decide to do things under the radar and squelch the “conversation.” We may not be “classical” conversation in my blog, but we are “open, honest, and transparent” conversation here. We deal with truth, not hiding things.

    Liked by 2 people

  69. I participated in CC in for one year. I did not tutor or anything else, just partipcated as a mom looking for a community to plug into with my child. Folks were nice enough, tutors were good enough, but my child hated it, and it didn’t turn into community like I had hoped it would. I think it can be challenging to create a true sense of community when you have to pay a corporation in order to be part of it. I find CC and their policies restrictive.

    I think it would be helpful for you to read through their non disclosure agreement and tutor contract. I’d be happy to email those to you if you’re interested…

    Like

  70. Torn and Christie Lynne’s comments were just discovered in the spam box. They are now posted above. It will probably be easier to do a quick search (ctrl f) to find them by their names. Sorry about that!

    Like

  71. Torn’s comments brought a few things to mind. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never been a member of CC. I have, however, been involved in a couple of unhealthy groups and have spent a lot of time learning from my experiences while observing other groups and talking at length with those who have been damaged by them. Once you understand the patterns, it’s a lot easier to identify them in other groups – even from a distance.

    One of the hardest experiences to have is to discern that there is something wrong and wonder why no one else in the group can see it. It’s natural to assume that you must be the one with the problem. (If only I wasn’t so critical. If only I wasn’t so negative. I must have a bad attitude.) I think it’s the natural first reaction from people who have a gift of discernment but don’t fully understand it yet. I could never figure out why things were blatantly obvious to me and others couldn’t see it. Over time I learned to trust my ability to discern things that others completely miss.

    That said, if you really feel in your gut that something is wrong you need to take that seriously. I cannot tell you what to do. Only you can figure that out for your family. But if you have red warning lights flashing enough to make you uncomfortable, they are there for a reason. Don’t brush them off. Ask God if He’s trying to tell you something.

    My hunch is that CC is at a significant crossroads even if they haven’t figured it out yet. They will have to decide if they are going to ignore the people who have raised legitimate questions over the past year and write them off as problem people who don’t know anything or if they will step back and try to determine if they really do need to listen and make some significant changes. If I had to bet the farm, I’d guess they will carry on as usual and hope it will all go away.

    Like

  72. Hello! So, I can’t leave specifics, because what happened to me at CC is very identifiable, and I have no desire to be contacted. I do KNOW that the Leigh was made aware of the IRS Issues which she was bringing to others. I do KNOW that they are cultish in their “not opposing Leigh’s decisions.” And, I do KNOW that I believe they have been a detriment to the home education community. I would love for THEM to “Know and be Known” for their evil practices of jeopardizing so many levels of leaders/ teachers and others who filed improperly. I do NOT understand why they have not had a “day of reckoning” with the IRS. The fines alone would seem to be likely to cause bankruptcy. Many sheep follow an unworth Shepherd that seems to be “leading them to slaughter.”
    On top of ALL Of this, Classical Conversations misses the JOY of home education and the heart of Classical Education.

    Like

  73. I have been involved with CC as a tutor, and have had three children attend for several years. We moved to different groups, but I found the same problems at each one, so this is not a local director problem
    This is long, but hopefully helpful to the discussions being had. I have taken this up with HSLDA, and was told it was a conflict of interest for them as they have directors on their board that are also on the board of CC. This case involves multiple students being physically assaulted, one to the point of injury requiring ER services. I have since heard of other students who were being physically assaulted, sexually assaulted and harassed, weapons and drugs on their campuses. The following three on a campus my son attended.

    (Below is a copy of the letter sent to HSLDA and Tanya Newman our area director:  In a phone conversation, she does say that she will send my information further up to Andy Truitt and Jackie Bartlett.(It has been since early November 2017, and I haven't heard a thing!) She is very evasive. She would never tell me CC's policy or if they even have one. She tried to say that they are not a tutorial and compared them to a church. This is absurd and wrong, because you do not pay your church.  Once money is exchanged for services, you enter a contract through commerce, not something that happens when you drop your kids off at Sunday school. What is the tutoring fee for if not for tutoring! She seemed to hide behind the Bible and Matthew 18, and really just tried to ask me questions about the CC structure, instead of answer question about the CC structure. I was very disappointed in their lack of concern for the safety of the children in their programs.)
    
    
    "I am currently a part of a CC community, and in contact with others from various CC communities in the area. It has come to my attention that CC seems to have a gaping hole in their policy for handling aggressive students.  Recently in a community, a serious case of bullying was taking place, where over the course of a year a student was repeatedly physically assaulted.  Not only was the policy in place (that I have attached below) not followed, but even if it were followed, seems to have some serious flaws.  I have the following concerns:
    
    1.  Training of staff is insufficient.  The CC community has contracts with various people, who are well meaning parents, but may or may not be equipped to handle the rigors of running a school program.  They lack the educational background in education and administration.  Due to this lack of education, CC needs to compensate for this with clear guidelines that must be followed.  As a former tutor, we were given very clear and specific guidelines for following the curriculum, even as much as, how many minutes we spent on every topic.  Our day was completely structured according to CC’s guidelines.  It seems that a director would also need this training in implementations of the code of conduct policy.  
    
    2. A professional in education or psychology should be consulted when a smart plan needs to be administered.  If a smart plan (attached below) is to be used then a CC specially trained staff member should be overseeing this procedure.  In the bullying example above, the smart plan stated that if the student physically hurt the bullied student again, he would be dismissed.  That is a very bad plan, and shows obvious lack of education in behavior issues amongst children.  I have a Master’s Degree in Special Education, and would adamantly disagree that anyone who put a plan in place that allows for the physical altercation with another student to take place is grossly negligent.  A plan must consider the safety of the student involved.  
    
    3.  The policies put forth for conduct from CC are not widely disseminated to the parents attending these groups.  In order to obtain the two documents attached, I had to ask for them from another director, not involved with the bullying case mentioned above.  When this information was given to the director involved in that case, we were told that she knew nothing about it.  So, that would suggest either she was uninformed, ill trained or possible lying.  However, if every parent had a copy of this in a handbook and was made to sign in agreement with these policies, that would go a long way in ensuring their proper implementation.
    
    4.  Parents should have access to someone in the CC organization to take their complaints. I have found it very difficult to get any names or contact information to take these grievances to.  If there is someone to handle questions and concerns related to books at CC corporate headquarters, then surely there should be someone available to handle questions and concerns regarding corporate wide curriculum and policy issues.
    
    5.  The Code of conduct policy as written in this attachment below is insufficient to protect children from serious forms of aggressive behavior.  Disrespectful behavior is not the same as physical violence, threats of physical violence, possession of weapons, and possession of narcotics.  More serious behaviors such as these need to be handled with more swift and immediate disciplinary actions.  These actions must be uniform throughout the CC community for the protection of all children.  As more children join into the CC communities, it will not be enough to have a policy in place that overlooks these serious offenses that can and will happen.  I would suggest a response of an immediate suspension of a duration of 3 weeks.  If a second offense occurs, then expulsion would be necessary.  This would relay the dedication of CC as an organization committed to the protection of children in their programs.  Again, this information should be given out to all parents in the program.  A signed agreement between the parents and the directors should be kept, so that none may claim lack of knowledge about these policies.
    
    I know CC is an organization that is helping many families to homeschool their children, and  growing in size as it has, will need to address these insufficient conduct policies.  I hope that this will take place for the coming CC school year.  I would like to see CC take the issue of child safety seriously by responding with the following policy changes: 1) Making sure all directors are trained to implement the code of conduct policies according to CC directives, 2) Making sure all parents have a copy of these policies and signed copies are kept with the directors, 3) Fixing holes in the policy to deal with more serious offenses, by creating immediate suspension from the program for at least 3 weeks and second offenses requiring expulsion from the program, 4) Making sure children who are expelled from one program cannot enter another community for at least one year."
    
    
    
    The CC corporation is claiming, as per Tonya, to just be a group of moms getting together, that the CC corporation is not running a tutoring service and does not require their tutoring sites to follow any specific standards.  That of course goes against everything they state on their website.  Especially since they keep using the word "tutors" to describe the mothers in the classroom, and they charge "tuition".  The definition of tuition is a sum of money charged for teaching or instruction by a school, college, or university.  I digress...
    In light of the fact that they will not communicate with me on this issue, I’m left with two thoughts.  One, they are committing fraud according to TN laws.  TN law 47 - 18 - 104 b states “Representing that a good or service are of a particular standard, quality or grade if they are another."  And “Advertising goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised.”  This is certainly the case.  Comparing their website and all the information coming from their directors, they are advertising a tutoring program run in a very specific manner, but then not intending this to be the case when a problem arises.  They are stating the directors have full control to run the program as they want to, which is not what they are selling a parent through their website and outreach meetings and materials.   
    And, Two: They are considering all community directors as independent contractors instead of employees.  I believe that this is incorrect, because they are clearly controlling what the directors are doing.  I know that they have area directors that oversee what the community directors are doing and making sure they are implementing the program according to CC standards.  They must attend trainings, and run the program by the CC guidelines.  The tutors are also considered independent contractors, but are clearly given days and times they must work, required to attend regular meetings and must teach exactly what the directors give them.  This is way beyond an independent contractor status.
    
    
    I would certainly recommend families to go into this program with extreme caution.  You cannot undo physical and sexual abuse!  There is no recourse in their set up to seek help.  You could sue the local director for damages, so another warning to directors of these programs.  If you are operating without insurance, you do so at your own risk.  I strongly encourage other families who have experienced problems to write a review on the BBB website.  I also encourage other families with concerns to contact your local government commerce office and file a complaint. 
    
    I hope others do not have the problems that I and others have experienced.  We are no longer participating in CC, and I hope that others really think and pray about their choice to continue to give money to this organization.
    

    Like

  74. (This didn’t post well earlier, so I’ll try again)

    I have been involved with CC as a tutor, and have had three children attend for several years. We moved to different groups, but I found the same problems at each one, so this is not a local director problem
    This is long, but hopefully helpful to the discussions being had. I have taken this up with HSLDA, and was told it was a conflict of interest for them as they have directors on their board that are also on the board of CC. This case involves multiple students being physically assaulted, one to the point of injury requiring ER services. I have since heard of other students who were being physically assaulted, sexually assaulted and harassed, weapons and drugs on their campuses. The following three on a campus my son attended.
    (Below is a copy of the letter sent to HSLDA and Tanya Newman our area director:
    In a phone conversation, she does say that she will send my information further up to
    Andy Truitt and Jackie Bartlett.(It has been since early November 2017, and I haven’t
    heard a thing!) She is very evasive. She would never tell me CC’s policy or if they
    even have one. She tried to say that they are not a tutorial and compared them to a
    church. This is absurd and wrong, because you do not pay your church. Once
    money is exchanged for services, you enter a contract through commerce, not
    something that happens when you drop your kids off at Sunday school. What is the
    tutoring fee for if not for tutoring! She seemed to hide behind the Bible and Matthew
    18, and really just tried to ask me questions about the CC structure, instead of
    answer question about the CC structure. I was very disappointed in their lack of
    concern for the safety of the children in their programs.)

     "I am currently a part of a CC community, and in contact with others from various CC communities in the area. It has come to my attention that CC seems to have a gaping hole in their policy for handling aggressive students.  Recently in a community, a serious case of bullying was taking place, where over the course of a year a student was repeatedly physically assaulted.  Not only was the policy in place (that I have attached below) not followed, but even if it were followed, seems to have some serious flaws.  I have the following concerns:
    
    1.  Training of staff is insufficient.  The CC community has contracts with various people, who are well meaning parents, but may or may not be equipped to handle the rigors of running a school program.  They lack the educational background in education and administration.  Due to this lack of education, CC needs to compensate for this with clear guidelines that must be followed.  As a former tutor, we were given very clear and specific guidelines for following the curriculum, even as much as, how many minutes we spent on every topic.  Our day was completely structured according to CC’s guidelines.  It seems that a director would also need this training in implementations of the code of conduct policy.  
    
    2. A professional in education or psychology should be consulted when a smart plan needs to be administered.  If a smart plan (attached below) is to be used then a CC specially trained staff member should be overseeing this procedure.  In the bullying example above, the smart plan stated that if the student physically hurt the bullied student again, he would be dismissed.  That is a very bad plan, and shows obvious lack of education in behavior issues amongst children.  I have a Master’s Degree in Special Education, and would adamantly disagree that anyone who put a plan in place that allows for the physical altercation with another student to take place is grossly negligent.  A plan must consider the safety of the student involved.  
    
    3.  The policies put forth for conduct from CC are not widely disseminated to the parents attending these groups.  In order to obtain the two documents attached, I had to ask for them from another director, not involved with the bullying case mentioned above.  When this information was given to the director involved in that case, we were told that she knew nothing about it.  So, that would suggest either she was uninformed, ill trained or possible lying.  However, if every parent had a copy of this in a handbook and was made to sign in agreement with these policies, that would go a long way in ensuring their proper implementation.
    
    4.  Parents should have access to someone in the CC organization to take their complaints. I have found it very difficult to get any names or contact information to take these grievances to.  If there is someone to handle questions and concerns related to books at CC corporate headquarters, then surely there should be someone available to handle questions and concerns regarding corporate wide curriculum and policy issues.
    
    5.  The Code of conduct policy as written in this attachment below is insufficient to protect children from serious forms of aggressive behavior.  Disrespectful behavior is not the same as physical violence, threats of physical violence, possession of weapons, and possession of narcotics.  More serious behaviors such as these need to be handled with more swift and immediate disciplinary actions.  These actions must be uniform throughout the CC community for the protection of all children.  As more children join into the CC communities, it will not be enough to have a policy in place that overlooks these serious offenses that can and will happen.  I would suggest a response of an immediate suspension of a duration of 3 weeks.  If a second offense occurs, then expulsion would be necessary.  This would relay the dedication of CC as an organization committed to the protection of children in their programs.  Again, this information should be given out to all parents in the program.  A signed agreement between the parents and the directors should be kept, so that none may claim lack of knowledge about these policies.
    
    I know CC is an organization that is helping many families to homeschool their 
    

    children, and  growing in size as it has, will need to address these insufficient conduct
    policies.  I hope that this will take place for the coming CC school year.  I would like to
    see CC take the issue of child safety seriously by responding with the following policy
    changes: 1) Making sure all directors are trained to implement the code of conduct
    policies according to CC directives, 2) Making sure all parents have a copy of these
    policies and signed copies are kept with the directors, 3) Fixing holes in the policy to
    deal with more serious offenses, by creating immediate suspension from the program
    for at least 3 weeks and second offenses requiring expulsion from the program, 4)
    Making sure children who are expelled from one program cannot enter another
    community for at least one year.”

     The CC corporation is claiming, as per Tonya, to just be a group of moms getting 
    

    together, that the CC corporation is not running a tutoring service and does not
    require their tutoring sites to follow any specific standards.  That of course goes
    against everything they state on their website. Especially since they keep using the
    word “tutors” to describe the mothers in the classroom, and they charge “tuition”.
    The definition of tuition is a sum of money charged for teaching or instruction by a
    school, college, or university. I digress…

    In light of the fact that they will not communicate with me on this issue, I’m left 
    

    with two thoughts.  One, they are committing fraud according to TN laws.  TN law 47 –
    18 – 104 b states “Representing that a good or service are of a particular standard,
    quality or grade if they are another.”  And “Advertising goods or services with intent
    not to sell them as advertised.”  This is certainly the case.  Comparing their website
    and all the information coming from their directors, they are advertising a tutoring
    program run in a very specific manner, but then not intending this to be the case when
    a problem arises.  They are stating the directors have full control to run the program
    as they want to, which is not what they are selling a parent through their website and
    outreach meetings and materials.
      
    And, Two: They are considering all community directors as independent
    contractors instead of employees.  I believe that this is incorrect, because they are
    clearly controlling what the directors are doing.  I know that they have area directors
    that oversee what the community directors are doing and making sure they are
    implementing the program according to CC standards.  They must attend trainings,
    and run the program by the CC guidelines.  The tutors are also considered
    independent contractors, but are clearly given days and times they must work,
    required to attend regular meetings and must teach exactly what the directors give
    them.  This is way beyond an independent contractor status.

     I would certainly recommend families to go into this program with extreme caution.
    

    You cannot undo physical and sexual abuse! There is no recourse in their set up to
    seek help. You could sue the local director for damages, so another warning to
    directors of these programs. If you are operating without insurance, you do so at your
    own risk. I strongly encourage other families who have experienced problems to
    write a review on the BBB website. I also encourage other families with concerns to
    contact your local government commerce office and file a complaint.
    I hope others do not have the problems that I and others have experienced. We
    are no longer participating in CC, and I hope that others really think and pray about
    their choice to continue to give money to this organization.

    Like

  75. CC could have been much greater than it is.

    I don’t have any desire to sling mud at Classical Conversations. I’m not sure whether anyone at the top is making money — business costs a lot of money, and the payments that are going in are very, very, very, very, very modest in business terms. They may just be keeping the lights on and not a whole lot more, for all I know. I ran a practicum once and the money was spent locally, providing childcare during the event. Other than that I don’t know how the money goes. I have sympathy with CC leadership, because I know people are usually mean to those who are taking payments for a product, and it’s usually just pettiness and ignorance.

    But I do think it’s a frustrating organization to which to belong.

    The attempt to silence gossip (by emphasizing Matthew 18) is needed in a world of sinful human beings, but at the point that you are talking about an organization with 200,000+ people involved there’s a need for balance by talking about the need to reform the organization to drive it forward. The culture does discourage suggestions and creativity, and only the “perfect ones” (defined by supporting CC 110%) are allowed to become part of the decision making cadre. There used to be a comment on the CC website that was about the idea of sending in your creative take on their content. It basically boiled down to “don’t bother — we receive way too many suggestions and we are good without you.”

    I am sympathetic, but I am also frustrated.

    Another complaint I have is that the Rules wind up mowing down some vulnerable ones. For example, the policy against having younger children attend classes aimed at older children is supposed to prevent classes from being slowed down by kids who can’t keep up, etc. But in practice, “me too” leaders regularly receive waivers that faithful participants whose children fall days short of the age deadline can’t get. I am concerned for the parents who are told, “Well, CC isn’t for everyone.” It’s true, but it’s hard to realize that the place you have spent years and years supporting isn’t a place where your educational needs will be met anymore. Your kids are going to lose all their friends if you admit the truth. And you’re alone, because all your friends have their kids already enrolled in the class you have been locked out of.

    There are so many wonderful people involved in CC, but the lack of flexibility doesn’t bring out the best in them.

    Then there is the issue of not being allowed to change anything. This is a place where the business aspect falls short of what it could easily achieve. What does it hurt if parents are allowed to offer an elective for a high school class (perhaps sharing a special skill they possess, like accounting or graphic design), or put together a unique schedule for an individual child (so this child attends only part of the CC day — something that I have heard can be done in theory but doesn’t seem to be done in reality… like other things that CC has on the books but won’t let you do)? Why must every family involved dedicate their children’s entire educational career to the study of Latin, a dead language????? I’m not saying Latin isn’t valuable for some students, but there are other educational priorities that are getting neglected in this headlong rush of the lemmings.

    The moment that CC went wrong was this…. In about 2013 (approx.) they conducted an investigation of the local campuses that, year after year, offered only Foundations and nothing else. They asked these campuses why they were not adding Challenge. Then they discovered that these campuses were developing other solutions (not Challenge) for middle school and high school. This would have been a brilliant moment to allow diversity: Challenge AND a different model. But no. CC doubled down on a bad idea and insisted that everyone convert to Challenge — it was a Christian education Crusade, complete with sword-point do-or-die conversions. A bunch of people lost their licenses to direct CC campuses (from what I have gathered) and the company rolled forward with a “If it was good enough for Robert Bortins’ class in 1990 it is good enough for 200,000+ customers today” mentality.

    My final criticism is that CC has insisted that Challenge directors neglect their own children to service the needs of other families. Although I am sure CC would say that these directors weren’t forced to direct Challenge (and that is technically true), there are a number of policies in place that I think are problematic. The most significant one is that nobody but a CC parent can direct Challenge, and that Challenge tutoring duties may not be shared among a group of Challenge parents. It’s all or nothing. This is essentially blackmail. “We have a great program! The only catch is that you have to neglect your younger children to make it happen! So, yes, your child’s education is at risk unless you sign here!!!” Some tutors can pull it off, but I think there’s more fallout than these tired parents will admit. There’s also a lot of “bait and switch” with tutors being forced to switch Challenge levels, and with their contracts being dropped.

    That’s it. That’s what I criticize, and it was enough to make me leave.

    I have been out of CC long enough that I’m not angry about anything anymore, but I used to feel like I was being choked by the truth that I knew but wasn’t permitted to say. I have told a few people that I thought CC could be abusive at some times and in some ways, and they didn’t react well and told me that everyone in CC was nice.

    Bottom line: Don’t ever look to a company for your children’s educational plan. Look to God because he’s the only one who has the entire picture. He is big enough to handle the full truth.

    And if you need a Foundations program but you have to leave CC, check out the alternative: Claritas Classical Publishing. (I’m not affiliated, just a customer of theirs.) It’s a better program in my opinion, and some people are starting communities that use it. They are really dedicated to staying independent of corporate control. So, God provides in mysterious ways. He provides sunshine after the rain.

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  76. In response to the question early on about Doug Wilson and CCE, I remember going to a seminar in the 90s, I think, where he spoke. He was all for Classical Christian Schools (was running one in Moscow, I believe) but did not encourage home education at the time.

    CC came too late for our homeschool, and now I’m glad. The friends we have in the program tend to be authoritarian in their philosophy, so maybe they fit well with the local groups for that reason? Of course, some groups have been described here as more flexible and full of grace. That is not the impression I get of the groups where we live.

    Liked by 1 person

  77. This is how I was spiritually abused by the director and regional director of the CC campus my family was a part of: I was a tutor and was struggling, along with the rest of the tutors under a super controlling director. I can relate to what I think Tiger Mommy said about how the director “told them how to breathe”. I wonder if we were at the same campus…. Hmm.

    Anyway, I witnessed the mistreatment of most of the tutors and tried to bite my tongue and bide my time, I tried to follow all the demands and specifics required of the tutors (above and beyond what they are required to do according to CC rules). It was exhausting and several tutors were having stress-related issues (panic attacks, etc.) Two tutors had quit. These tutors were open about it being due to the director. I found it impossible to continue my silence (it was starting to feel like I was unwittingly contributing to the abuse by not saying anything). Then when the director mistreated my daughter with Down syndrome, it was the kicker!

    The director could never stand anyone who was non-conforming or different. So, I expressed my concerns about her controlling behavior in an email, and to her, that was a declaration of war! She spoke with all the other tutors and then the community and told them she had come under a Satanic attack. (I being one of Satan’s agents I suppose). She “told on me” to the area or regional director because of Matthew 18. In actuality I had come to her with concerns, but she turned the tables on me and stated that she was following Matthew 18 because of her concerns with me.

    “I don’t believe Matthew 18 ever should be used in a business setting in which there is clearly an imbalance of power.” I agree with loolamay here. The area director forced me to have long phone conversations—-I mean hours long where she grilled me about the directors behavior and all the goings on of our campus. I felt at first that maybe she was actually listening to me and concerned for what we had been through, but it became clear through a series of events that she only wanted to silence me and several others who had suffered at the director’s hands. The area director told me that if I did not make amends with the director that my salvation was at stake!!!

    The director then started targeting my family and applying rules that never existed before or were never followed before , as though they applied to only MY family. I had to sit though tutor meetings where she whined about how Satan was attacking her and never once heard her examine her own behavior despite many people collaborating the stories I told the regional director. She was so controlling she had sucked the fun and creativity out of our community and placed her daughter in the position of ruler over the other children. She chose to try to silence me with whatever means she could—-all over a single email of concern. She never tried to hear my concerns and I became the scapegoat for all the problems of the community, which was already falling apart.

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  78. Christisfreedom – you most definitely experienced spiritual abuse. To threaten that your salvation is at stake is abhorrent. I’m really upset to hear this and sorry that you had to experience it. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  79. Pingback: Classical Conversations #3: Leaders Delete Comments and Block Commenters Who Don’t Toe the Line | Spiritual Sounding Board

  80. Helen – if you are reading, please check your e-mail. I got your comment, but I would like to use it in a new post. What you sent to me is too important to get lost in the comments on this old post. Thank you!

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  81. Christisfreedom – “The area director told me that if I did not make amends with the director that my salvation was at stake!!!”

    This is cultic. There is no other way to put it. I’m so glad you got out.

    Liked by 1 person

  82. Pingback: Classical Conversations #4: A CC Veteran Gives Advice to New People Considering Classical Conversations | Spiritual Sounding Board

  83. “Scary, when you think of what some of the other students must have been turning in.”
    ………………………………………………………………………..
    I’ve done assessment work of student papers for my university off and on for the last six years, grading everything from freshmen straight out of high school to seniors and grad students. Some of the writing is scary. Some students are genuinely illiterate, yet have somehow graduated from high school and did well enough on the entrance exams to get in–I have no explanation how. Others are perfectly bright and literate and could do well, but major in beer and minor in anonymous sex, and because of the strain their bohemian lifestyles put on their time, they dedicate maybe 15 minutes of internet cut-and-paste to a paper that should’ve taken days or weeks of thoughtful research and revision to produce. Those are the sorts of students to whom you were being compared. It’s a remarkable occurrence when you run into a student who actually gets excited and makes a modicum of effort–or has the sense to reasonably fake it. I’d say one in three students have no business whatsoever wasting their time and taxpayer dollars at this state university.

    My experiences with homeschoolers has generally been good. Most of them are fine students, like you. The ones who would not be good students here are usually the types who are taught that public college is of the devil, so they wouldn’t show up here anyway.

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  84. Pingback: Classical Conversations #5: Leaders Threaten to Use Legal Force to Silence a Concerned Parent | Spiritual Sounding Board

  85. Pingback: Classical Conversations #6: Rigid Rules and Legal Tax Concerns | Spiritual Sounding Board

  86. I am not a parent, but know several who home school using CC. In fact, I believe that everyone I know who home schools at the moment is involved in this.

    My question: knowing several family who home school and have “star pupils” in CC, I also know that most of their parents are appalled at how their children are performing on the state standardized tests for the corresponding grade level.

    For those of you who have used CC, did you find similarly? That your children did very well in home-school, but poorly on the state grade level standardized tests?

    Thank you.

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  87. I’d be interested in a post exploring whether or not CC communities have negatively affected the homeschooling community at large. In my area, it’s a hugely popular program, and I would not be surprised if CC members outnumbered non-CC homeschoolers. I have never been a member, but I was turned off when it became apparent that lots (not all) of CC communities are only interested in homeschoolers joining them, or what non CC homeschoolers can offer them. The non CC moms in my area are inundated with an overwhelming amount of requests from CC moms for babysitting in order to attend various CC events – either training, mom’s meetings, field trips exclusively for the older kids etc.

    When I remarked how unusual it is for a homeschooling community to require so much time from moms and not provide or share childcare, I was told that many communities actually do offer childcare, but it’s often too expensive. So these moms are relying on non CC moms for support- which would be fine, but we are not reciprocated in any way. When asked to babysit youngers, I agreed but asked if my older kids could tag along on the field trip too-nope. Only for CC students. It just makes me sad -especially for moms who wish they could be part of a CC community, but will most likely never be able to afford it. It seems like from the outside, it’s a group that’s more interested in being exclusive than contributing to the entire homeschool community.

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  88. I recently had an experience with a CC community and believe it or not was refunded my entire tuition, fees etc. because my family dynamic didn’t align with the community.

    My husband is a stay at home dad. I get it, we are In the minority and reading comments above its generally about moms, but don’t claim to be Christian and inclusive when your just not.

    In my opinion the women at the CC community we had joined did not exhibit Christian like actions and the Director kept calling my child by the wrong name. Additionally on day 1 my child knew more than any other child (numbers, letters, writing, mathematics etc.) so I was further told because of this the community is not a good fit.

    My thoughts are is CC is for cookie cutter average children, my child is a born leader and I would be surprised if CC has any children who become leaders since the community discourages these types of actions and mindsets early on. I was told my child needed to be more docile and not ask questions, again on day 1.

    Thank you for this forum it feels good to be able to speak freely about such a horrible experience.

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  89. I read the link to the Wilson articles and have to say I see the parallels too and it is frightening. These folk might be religious nut-jobs after all, using our faith In Jesus to manipulate might be the worse crime of all.

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  90. Pingback: Classical Conversations: Business or a Non-Profit; Cult or a Christian Homeschool Group? | Spiritual Sounding Board

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