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Reporting the Truth.
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Whistleblowers Say Classical Conversations is Multi-Level Marketing Scheme that Exploits Homeschooling Parents

By Josh Shepherd
Classical Conservations Inc. CEO Robert Bortins Jr. addressed thousands of homeschooling families in a simulcast broadcast from Albemarle, North Carolina on October 18, 2017. (Image: Screenshot / YouTube)

Classical Conversations, Inc. (CC) bills itself as a leading faith-based homeschool education company that enables homeschooling parents, upon being contracted as local CC directors, to make extra income while providing an important local ministry.

Yet according to analysis by The Roys Report, local directors make next to nothing working for CC. Meanwhile, CC is taking in millions in what whistleblowers and insiders allege is a multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme.

Starting in fall 2013, Kristi Bothur, a mother of two children who earned a master’s degree in curriculum, spent six years working with a CC chapter in Columbia, South Carolina.

Kristi Bothur

She worked six months as a tutor, and over five years as director. With 14 years of prior teaching experience, she easily recruited mothers of school-age children to the CC program, which met weekly in a local church.

By her third year, Bothur began to think she was set up to fail. The local chapter never grew, despite her skill at networking and selling the program. Parents who responded to her pitch were shuffled off to nearby local CC chapters. She took in thousands of dollars in registration and tuition fees from parents—a hefty percentage going to CC corporate—but her income was nearly nothing.

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In state after state, it’s a story repeated with only slight variations about CC. Over several months, The Roys Report interviewed eight former CC contractors across six states. Some were tutors or directors of local programs; others served as CC area or state representatives. Several were reluctant to speak on-the-record because CC had required them to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

The Roys Report also obtained data regarding annual program-related income and expenses from seven directors for their years with CC—from 2012 to 2018. Some data came from two directors interviewed by The Roys Report. The rest came from Carol Topp, a certified public accountant based in Cincinnati, Ohio, who received the data from five other CC directors for a book she wrote.

When averaged, the directors collected about $20,000 in tuition and fees during a school year. Of that, CC received 100% of registration fees ($55 to $145 per student for younger students) as its “licensing” dues, and 12% of tuition fees collected for each 7th- to 12th-grade student per semester. On two occasions, CC’s cut was as much as 33% to 60% of a director’s total revenue. (The percentage CC received varied due to discounts given families with multiple children enrolled.)

The directors reported that they worked on CC programs for approximately 20 hours per week and made an average of $2,811 annual profit. Several reported less than $800 profit for a year’s work, and one reported losses multiple years.

The amounts for the directors and the years reported are tabulated in the chart below. (For the sake of privacy, we are not reporting the directors’ names with their income.) 

*Data supplied by Carol Topp, CPA. ^Director G used non-standard accrual accounting during the two years reported. The person recorded income over two semesters, yet had to pay all CC fees in the fall semester.

These whistleblowers reveal a multi-level marketing scheme that they say exploits homeschooling parents—who, seemingly by design, rarely benefit from their front-line work of overseeing the CC education model and recruiting other families to the network.

Among them are Bothur. The breaking point for her was having to attend CC meetings hours away from home, once again to recruit people to the network.

“I’m putting in all these hours away from my family at meetings, and not getting anything out of it,” Bothur said in a phone interview. “I’m not getting income out of it. I’m not getting friends for my kids out of it. All I’m doing is advertising for somebody else’s program.”

In 2019, Bothur resigned as local director.

Even directors who like the program admit to making little money. Serving as a CC director since 2012, Annie Ferguson of Niceville, Florida, said she has made only $2,000 to $3,000 per year.

“I jumped in to CC because it offers classical Christian community,” Ferguson said. “It’s not about the money, which is not very much after you pay licensing fees to CC.”

The Roys Report reached out to CC’s corporate office for comment and CEO Robert Bortins Jr. granted a brief interview. However, both he and the company declined to answer specific questions regarding specific incidents described in this report.

In a statement to The Roys Report, CC said: “Classical Conversations has supported more than 37,500 Licensed Directors over the past 22+ years. We are not a legal or accounting firm, therefore we do not give legal or accounting advice. Classical Conversations licenses a product to its customers. Licensees are encouraged to work with local professionals for their business needs.”

CC Earns Millions, While Directors Make a Pittance

Based in Southern Pines, North Carolina, Classical Conversations, Inc. has been touted as “the Walmart of education” and, on its own website, “the nation’s leader in classical, Christian teaching of children.”

The private company, majority-owned by the Bortins family, including founders Leigh and Robert Bortins, does not publish financial data.

Robert Bortins Jr.

Bortins Jr. told The Roys Report that CC has about 130 employees. He added that about 70 work at the home office and the rest work from home.

Based on reported enrollment of over 120,000 students in U.S. programs and detailed data provided by former CC contractors, annual revenues are estimated at between $15 million and $40 million.

CC’s business model hinges on local groups, which resemble a typical homeschool co-op. But instead of running as a nonprofit, staffed by volunteers, CC groups are for-profit businesses run by local directors, who function as licensed business owners. As owners, these directors are responsible for all aspects of the program—hiring tutors, paying applicable taxes, collecting tuition, and doing all the accounting.

CC, on the other hand, collects fees and sells its curriculum to all program participants. It also dictates the way each group must be run. Everyone in a CC group must use CC’s curriculum, and the only way to get key parts of the curriculum is by enrolling in a local CC group.

“What makes CC Inc. different is they’re not just a curriculum seller,” said Carol Topp, who has specialized in serving homeschool families and leaders for the past 16 years. “They license a program, and they’re really more of a multi-level marketing organization.”

Multi-level marketing strategies are not inherently unlawful or unethical. However, several MLM companies whose business practices exploited participants have been fined or shut down—often for exhibiting a high level of control over licensees and lack of full disclosure. These are warning signs that Topp has seen with CC for years.

In its 13-page licensing agreement, CC specifies a half-dozen different fees to charge enrolled families, how much to pay tutors, and (by extension) what percentage the director receives.

Exploitation at Every Level

Above the director level, CC contracts support representatives (SRs) who each have about 10 CC directors they help. In each state, SRs report up to statewide or regional area representatives (ARs). Both SRs and ARs are paid by commission.

SRs receive approximately 15% of CC student registration fees, 5% of curriculum sales, and some ancillary revenue, according to former CC area representative and homeschool mother of four from Arizona, JJ Veale. Veale added that statewide ARs receive a smaller cut of registration fees in addition to revenue from twice-annual “practicum” events designed to grow the CC network and sell curriculum.  

Homeschool parents who formerly worked in these leadership roles also allege exploitative practices.

According to Veale, SRs and ARs have to make bonuses to earn a decent wage—but CC sets bonuses just out of reach. 

JJ Veale

In January 2012, CC recruited Veale to direct their first local chapter in Arizona. Parents flocked to Veale, formerly an English instructor at the university level. Soon, CC leaders urged her to lead state operations as an AR for Arizona.

Within a few years, CC affiliates across Arizona multiplied from one to more than 60, each led by a homeschooling parent. The CC network in Arizona had “a growth rate of like 3,000% during my tenure,” according to Veale. Yet she made, on average, only $5K annually working 30 hours per week.

“The SRs I trained were out there busting their tails, growing the CC network, doing everything they can to resource these homeschooling moms,” she said in a phone interview. “But, from a metrics standpoint, the company told them over and over that we were failing.”

Through multiple contacts in the CC network, Veale later learned Arizona support reps were “the poorest paid in the country.” Only then, the master’s graduate was embarrassed to admit, did she sit down to carefully read and research CC contracts.

She found that aggressive goals written into contracts—updated annually by CC—ensured her successful team hardly benefited from the education corporation’s growth. Most years, the majority of SRs in Arizona were expected to double their number of CC communities to receive any bonus, Veale said.

The final straw for Veale was seeing a woman she had recruited be mistreated by higher-ups. The young mother had experienced a miscarriage and was ordered on bed rest by her doctor. Yet the CC support representative above the grieving mother insisted she attend their training practicum or lose her position.

Veale attempted to intervene, going above the support representative to the AR for Arizona who had taken over her position.

“I don’t believe this is the environment that you would be okay with,” she texted CC’s statewide leader. “Please, I beg you, do something to stop this.”

In response, Veale said the area representative stood by the company’s stringent policies.

In Over Their Heads

According to Topp and several former CC directors I interviewed, CC recruits homeschool moms by appealing to the ministry benefit of the program, rather than stating up front that local directors are starting their own businesses.

Today, CC’s website has a Business Practices FAQ page that explains the for-profit nature of CC programs. However, according to multiple former directors, the FAQ page was added only in October 2019. And many local directors have gotten in way over their head.

Jamie Buckland

In 2013, Jamie Buckland of Beckley, West Virginia, became a CC director to homeschool her four children and to help other homeschool moms. One incident she will never forget from her four years with CC was the day she realized she owed $1,248 in back taxes related to her role as CC director.

“My accountant asked, ‘OK, where’s the six percent service charge you’re supposed to be charging on the tuition?’ It turns out every director in our state had been operating outside of the law for years,” she told me. In 2016, she resigned from her role with CC.

Today an educational consultant, Buckland has since had hundreds of current and former CC directors and tutors as clients. According to her, many of those clients have been liable for unpaid state and federal income taxes.

Those left holding the bag include one desperate mom and CC director who contacted her in late 2019.

“She called me consumed with stress about an audit,” recalled Buckland. “She hadn’t showered in two weeks and said her husband was threatening to leave them because they’d face financial ruin, owing thousands in back taxes.”

Buckland accuses CC of being deceptive and preying on unsuspecting homeschool moms.

“The company hasn’t disclosed that all the liability for this business model is placed on the directors,” Buckland said. “These moms don’t even have time to school their kids because they’re too busy running a business for CC. I’m all for capitalism, but this is exploitation.”

Annie Ferguson, who’s a CC enthusiast and remains a CC director, also admitted, “It was frustrating and intimidating for me when I started. The tax issues and whether to set up as a sole proprietorship or what not, I was left to figure out on my own.”

Topp agrees that CC directors take on “huge amounts of liability” without full disclosure. Some legal responsibilities directors must assume include doing background checks, managing tutors, making payroll, securing daycare licensing, and entering into a lease agreement with a church (or other venue).

“Unfortunately, many moms are duped,” Topp said. “They get sold on this being a ‘ministry’ and forget they’re running a business.”

CC Buries Tax Help

Aware of these issues, Topp said she offered her expertise to the CC network—only to see her work buried.

After several CC local directors flooded her Homeschool CPA website with questions, she wrote a short book of guidelines to help directors with record-keeping, tax filing, and advice on how to classify as a local business.

Carol Topp, CPA

At a homeschool convention in 2017, Topp told Bortins about the book. Topp said two months later, CC COO Keith Denton called and recommended Topp license the book exclusively to CC. Believing it would be promoted to all directors, Topp agreed and delivered the content in early 2018.

CC released her ebook on March 30, 2018, with only two weeks left in that year’s tax season.

CC also buried the ebook on its website, according to Topp. She says the only way to find it was to download an 81-page PDF document and then click on a link embedded on page 54. (Topp has since rewritten this ebook, which is available at her website.)

Former director Bothur said this incident suggests that CC doesn’t want its directors to know the extent of tax liabilities they are taking on.

CC did not reply to inquiries about specific issues. However, Bortins dismissed critics during our interview and asserted that CC “has a very bright future leading the classical education movement.”

CC Appeals to Religious Obligation

Over the years, dozens of former CC contractors have called out CC’s alleged exploitative business practices, including on The Spiritual Sounding Board, Kristi Bothur’s blog and JJ Veale’s blog. Plus, more than 2,000 former CC contractors have organized a private Facebook group to raise awareness of CC policies they allege are abusive and ethically dubious.

Despite this, CC continues to grow. Critics say that’s because the company fuses spiritual language into its business dealings with contractors, creating a culture of religious obligation.

CC’s stated mission is to know God and make him known, a motto popularized by evangelical ministries The Navigators and Youth with a Mission. The education company also assumes what sounds like pastoral authority when conveying its policies to contractors.

The 2020 edition of CC’s Directors Licensing Guide references oft-misused passage Matthew 18 on behalf of contractor compliance. One question asks: “Do you refrain from gossip or disrespectful, dishonoring talk?” Their Integrity Checklist for Directors states: “Please [assess] your commitment to the integrity of the process and product of CC . . . With insight from our Lord, check yourself.”

Buckland said that when her family decided to exit the CC network, they also chose to leave their longtime church home. She said CC representatives accused them of “being outside the will of the Lord,” which spread and caused even her kids to lose friendships.

Similarly, CC representatives online have come down on anyone who finds a wrinkle in their dues-paying network, some parents allege. Several parents who posted in CC-moderated groups about a person’s legal right to resell curriculum materials they own (per U.S. law) report being censored and blocked from those groups.

Ferguson, however, disagreed that the company exerts unhealthy pressure. “I’ve always felt freedom to be able to move in and out of these roles,” she said. “When I’ve signed on as CC director for a season, I only feel pressure to hold their plumb line with great integrity.”

Yet other former directors say they stayed so long with CC because they felt their faith demanded it.

“They market themselves as a Christian company,” said Bothur. “But they seem more focused on keeping the company financially strong than on supporting and coming alongside their directors.”

Recalling her seven years working in various CC roles with little return, Veale spoke frankly: “You only do that when you’re incredibly committed to groupthink—and I was for many years.”

*This article has been updated. An error was made in the initial data supplied for the data table, which resulted in slightly different numbers reported at initial publication. We regret the error. 

Freelance journalist Josh Shepherd writes on faith, culture, and public policy for several media outlets. He and his wife live in the Washington, D.C. area with their two children.



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93 Responses

  1. Five years ago, in the midst of caring for an elderly parent, I joined a CC campus in our area where several friends were already members. I needed help making sure my kids continued to learn on the days/weeks when caregiving took my attention. I was asked to tutor Essentials because I had taught IEW materials and English at another co-op. The community we joined became like a family to us during the incredible difficult time of caring for our parents and during a life-threatening illness with one of my children. Meals were provided, children were picked up and dropped off, and we were flooded with calls, emails, and notes of encouragement from our leadership and friends. For the first two years, my older two students loved their time in CC classes. I enjoyed tutoring Essentials. I did not enjoy tutoring Foundations because we were not able to have conversations in class. If I did, I never got through all the review I was required to do.

    Once my children began moving into the Challenge classes, our enjoyment disappeared. I had always understood the classical method to promote learning that was appropriate to the level of maturity of the student. Both of my challenge students lost their love of learning due to the pace and difficulty of working through high school level books at a middle school level. I was also bothered by the insistence that all of my children had to be enrolled in CC in order for me to become anything more than a tutor. I had two older children who were on a solid plan for high school/college prep and would not have flourished in CC. The inflexibility of CC along with the use of materials that are above the level of the students pushed us to leave, and we are regaining our love of learning and are able to learn together again, rather than each child struggling through his/her own work each week. I truly miss the community of moms, the fellowship we had, and the early years in Foundations and Essentials. However, I do not miss the stress my children were placed under, nor the stress I saw on the faces of friends who were trying to recruit and meet goals when all they wanted to do was teach.

    CC meets a need for so many who are just getting started or need some structure. However, it seems there are things that need to be addressed. Like anything man creates, there is brokenness. We should be humble enough to address concerns and make things right. I pray that this article creates change and healing.

    1. We had many happy years in Foundations/Essentials. We lasted a year in Challenge and found it to be a waste of time with lots of busy work and not much learning. Furthermore, while Foundations/Essentials keeps the entire family on the same page, Challenge splinters the family in too many directions.

    2. Thank you for sharing your story, Rob! Your insights into the manipulative tactics we are seeing are so helpful!

  2. Former CC Challenge director here.

    I directed for several years and my wife tutored Foundations for several years; we withdrew from CC a year ago. One commenter on here who is defending CC insinuates that those critical of CC were let go or kicked out. That’s insulting and ignorant. I was asked to continue directing and had to break it to higher-ups that I just couldn’t anymore. I couldn’t tolerate the corporate leadership’s lying, manipulative tactics, and the lack of attention given to the begging and pleas of directors like me who saw problems, tried to bring them up while we were still in CC and committed to our roles, and begged them to consider some solutions we proposed (at the time I felt very alone; I know now that I have been one of MANY).

    I have observed a pattern that is visible here in these comments too. Those who want to defend CC don’t often address the specific problems or criticisms presented; they more often point to the results that they perceive from CC’s model, curriculum, educational outcomes for students, etc. After dealing with CC corporate over a period of time while I was a director, I observed a similar ends-justify-the-means mentality that is not only wrong, but leaves people like me pretty stonewalled in our efforts to get corporate to comment on and address legal and ethical concerns.

    I welcomed this article when it appeared this week. When the corporation won’t listen to people who are among its own devoted licensees, things like this become the next best solution. The Facebook groups “Let Us Reason For Real” and “Talk Classical Conversations” are also invaluable.

  3. Former Director. Thank you for speaking out and revealing truth. It goes much deeper than this, but grateful for the article! The preferential treatment allotted to some families is damaging to the rest of the class and community. I have had an uneasy feeling past couple of years with their practices. Hopefully there will be some accountability soon.

  4. The question of exploitation has come up in a few groups I’m in, and whether that really applies to CC when it’s often used to talk about migrant labor, for example, or human trafficking. No one is making CC Directors stay, right? So let’s talk about it.

    How’s this for a definition of “exploit”? “To make unethical use of someone for one’s own advantage or profit.” Another definition I found added “often by underpaying or overworking”.

    Here are my thoughts:

    CC Inc has set up a program with a price point that is within the reach of enough homeschool families that they (CC) can maximize enrollment and, therefore, income (via licensing fees, book sales, and CCC subscriptions).

    CC needs to maintain that balance between keeping willing customers and maximizing CC’s income.

    The CC cost for parents has four parts: tuition, registration, supplies, and facility.

    Two years ago, CC raised the registration fee for F/E from $85 to $145, all of which goes to CC Inc. They kept the Challenge registration fee the same, but increased the licensing fee from around 25% of tuition and fees, to the $125 registration fee PLUS $160 per semester flat rate. This increased the total licensing fee and had the effect of decreasing the Challenge Director’s per-student income.

    To keep tuition down, CC needs cheap labor (Directors and tutors). A word about tuition – parents think it all stays in the community for Directors and tutors, but that is not true for Challenge, where $320 of it goes to CC Inc in licensing fees in addition to the registration fee.

    To keep the facility fee down, CC needs cheap locations – and for years, churches have been willing to host CC businesses for free, or at least below market value.

    Without those two things – cheap labor and cheap locations – program prices will go up and CC will lose families – and therefore will also lose book sales and CCC subscriptions. Everything in this house of cards depends on the in-person programs succeeding.

    Except in a few states where the laws are different, CC relies on churches (and Directors, SRs, and ARs) being in the dark about how hosting a business could impact their property tax exemption so they will host CC for minimal fees. They also have spend a lot of time telling churches that hosting CC fulfills the mission of the church, which keeps churches willing to help, and making government seem like the bad guy.

    CC relies on Directors being naive about business risks and willing to put in long hours for minimal pay because, hey, it’s serving other homeschool families. It’s like a ministry. They also rely on how they know “community” becomes something families feel they cannot homeschool without, which increases the feeling of Directors being compensated without costing CC Inc financially, because they are really doing it for their kids.

    With this, they pull in millions in fees, CCC subscriptions, and book sales. Without it, they would make much much less.

    When Directors ask the wrong questions, they get kicked out of groups and have their comments deleted. They get put on “SMART plans”. They get harassed. And when they leave sometimes they are slandered and their children lose their friends.

    If tuition increased to be a fair wage to Directors and tutors, and if Directors had to pay market value to rent a facility for their business activities, the price per student would place CC out of reach of most homeschool families. This would also decrease CC Inc’s income greatly.

    This is the system CC has set up to maximize their income and minimize their risk. It relies on, and takes advantage of, workers and churches to be naive and unconcerned about what and how they are being compensated while making sure they get as much as they can get.

    That to me sounds like exploitation.

    P.S. I was told by my SR the year that I left CC that new moms make great directors because they are more “pliable”. It was such an odd word to use that it made me wonder if that was a phrase from SR training?

    1. That confirms even more that this is a pyramid scheme, which as you know it is better to be at the very top or at the very bottom of it if you are caught up in one. Most of these directors and similar are the suckers in the middle. Which is why they are SOL in many ways.

  5. I left a similar comment to this one on another story here. That comment referred to the book of James where it asks the question can a “faith” that does not do what Jesus commands of us really save anyone? This blog has many news stories about various controversies going on “in the Name of Jesus Christ.” The comments on all of them follow a pattern at two extremes. The issues are “are the concerns brought up valid?” And “is the fact that someone in that system being reported on is being taken advantage of a real concern or not” to the commenter?

    Jesus Himself brought up concerns he saw in the religious systems of his day and validated them as real. Period. And Jesus was very concerned about those being taken real advantage of by the religious powers of his day. The Prophets also expressed the same concerns to previous generations. This is critical for the two responses I see over and over again here regardless of who the story targets and what the issues are or what particular individuals have claimed to been taken advantage of:

    1) Some commenters sound like Jesus. They openly express empathy for those whom may be being taken advantage of. They acknowledge the issues that are there and do not simply blow them off. There is empathy in what they say and a concern for true justice to be carried out on earth because this is a very foundation of the throne and the rule of Jesus Christ on this earth.

    2) Other commenters make it clear that they have been profiting in someway from the institution and they are mad that anything “negative” is being reported about it. They express zero empathy for anyone other than themselves and their immediate friends and family. They communicate a clear and very selfish pragmatism, “this is working for me so why is anyone else having a problem with it?” They shoot the messenger as if Julie or whomever wrote up the story is evil and THE problem, because in their own eyes they are. There is no concern expressed that a third party might have been harmed. This displays both a total lack of empathy but also for basic justice. The golden rule fails and is broken and they could care less. They tend to refuse to acknowledge any possibility at all that the concerns might be valid.

    So this brings me back to James’, the brother of Jesus, question: can such a faith, one without empathy or concern for justice for others whom you are not profiting with, actually save you? What does this teach their kids in this present context? Ignore all problems and concerns for others as long as a religious system and institution is giving you personal profit? To me that sounds purely demonic but I do experience empathy and a definite strong desire to see justice done on this earth..

    1. Mr Jesperson, thank you so much for your comment. It helped me immensely. I’m the CPA mentioned in the article. Since it was written, I have had several people criticize me and try to damage my reputation. It hurts me emotionally. Your comment was like a balm. It gave me perspective.
      From the bottom of my heart I thank you and wish I could meet you in person to thank you for how much your comment has helped me. Lord bless you, Mr Jesperson.

  6. I participated in the program for a half year under one of the directors interviewed here. Yes the material is garbage, but I transferred to a director who knew how to run the campus at least even with the learning material being what it was. The director interviewed here ran her campus like a circus! Then wondered why people left or transferred. She also lied when doing all this recruiting about how many families she had on her campus. TWO. The answer was TWO. So of course no one wanted to stay. And I felt betrayed that she never brought this up when recruiting us and neither did her superior, who she had sit in on our meeting. They talked like their “campus” had many families. Not just two. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes here, but I had to do what was best for my kids and got out. Unfortunately not before we were swindled out of several hundred dollars.

    1. Did you have a useful thought about the exploitation of CC workers? Or is this just a classic ad hominem attack where you insult one of the people who was interviewed because… I don’t know. She’s quit You’ve quit. There’s nothing here to improve or change, so did you just want your pound of flesh?

  7. Homeschooled parents and children are sometimes exploited. How often, I cannot say. The moms don’t have outside jobs for the most part and so are open to earning money doing what they love– teaching their own and others’ kids. They are women of goodwill as well and they tend to trust religious people. Similarly their children are brought up to be kind and generally compliant.
    I remember one women’s tea I went to, put on by a rich lady from the Bible study. She had hired a homeschool girl to serve and clean up, while this lady’s daughter was at her expensive private school. Maybe the girl was well-paid. Still it made me sad. Homeschoolers with their flexible schedules can be exploited. Or you may just view them as having more opportunities to earn some hard cash.

    1. This is so true. I’ve been homeschooling for 24 years. It seems that whenever I tell someone I homeschool the only word they hear is home. When I was younger I tried to be more accommodating than I should have to a pastor that wanted our free labor and also various neighbors and relatives that wanted one thing or another. After a couple of years I put a stop to all that. Now I’m much more selective about how much I let outsiders interfere in our school day.

  8. I am the happy director of a Challenge A group and have another child in Foundations and Essentials. I was a teacher for 10 years at an elite private school and also in public school. The curriculum is sound, the methods are excellent, and my children have learned a ton. It is hard, but homeschooling is hard. If you want your children to learn you’re going to have to work hard. Classical Conversations Is not my job. Homeschooling is my job. My children and my community are like family to me. Classical Conversations may be making a lot of money, but so do a lot of publishing companies. They are a publishing company. If they need to change and redo their model, then that will come out and I’m sure that they will. In the meantime, I find this article to be very manipulative and no better than the way the media spins other stories about Christianity. I find it shameful and one-sided.

    1. This comment I think purely demonstrates the point I made on my comment which is just a few places higher on this list. This is a textbook self-centered and self-righteous comment. I see a lot of these here on various stories about various institutions. But you could remove any of them and copy and paste them below a different story and they all appear absolutely identical…

    2. Well said, Maggie. I would encourage reading the article carefully and looking for missing information. It is full of accusations from a very small sample size.

      Our family has been a part of CC for nine years. Much of what is stated lacks explanation needing context for accurate understanding. It is a very good example of poor journalism. My two CC grads have received an excellent education and are thriving at their chosen colleges academically, spritiually, and socially. I as a director have not felt exploited. We have benefitted from seasoned home educators pouring into us as a young family and now find satisfaction sharing our strengths and struggles with others. That is community. And belonging to a community is a choice.

      I think I will take the article to my third son’s Challenge I class and have them find the fallacies and biases. They have been weel trained for such critical thinking.

  9. While there are some things I don’t agree with in the CC corporate structure, to call it a pyramid scheme or MLM is niave and ridiculous. I’ve directed F/E seven years and been in CC 9 years. I’ve had 4 different SRs over me during that time. NEVER has there been any talk of this being a way to make a ton of money. Communities are limited to the size they are, so if any director had a hard time keeping people it may not be the company that was the issue….7 years I’ve have a maxed out community…100% full with a wait list and 2 other communities in the same town as me which I constantly referred other families to join. I’ve made enough money to cover my kids tuition but that’s about it and that’s what I expected when I signed up. If corporate is making millions…good for them. My husband owns several small businesses so I KNOW what goes on the higher up you get and the more you have to jump through government hoops. CC has to look for “cheap locations ” because the government is overreaching and too involved with what they believe education should look like.
    Like I said, there are things they do and policies they have I don’t agree with, but if anyone has been in a church long enough you learn things about your church you don’t agree with either.
    I’m thankful my oldest is graduating from Ch 4 with the ability to debate and the wisdom to discern the difference between truth and lies.

  10. Well, that was a read. Having been in CC for 8 years, tutored 2, directed FE 3 going on 4 I think I’ve been through the gamut of what CC’s structure and business model holds. Good and bad. I’ve got lots to say about the bad but not today.


    I’ve never been under any illusion that I’d make money by serving in my community. I always knew that at best it would cover the costs of my own kids being in the program, and at worst I’d be a little under water. That said, after the spring and summer preparation that comes as tutor or director, my experience with the program is 100% a rewarding albeit challenging experience. The growth I see in my own kids and the students around them speak for themselves, and the relationships forged are absolutely priceless. If as a director you’re not spending a significant portion of your day praying with other parents on campus than you might want to reevaluate. We learn together and grow together. And the better I learn the classical model the more I relax on the rigors of each level. Challenge A isn’t busy work as I saw a previous commenter claim, it’s the grammar stage of challenge and is teaching you the tools. Foundations and essentials aren’t wasted time, it’s building strong blocks of memory to serve later.

    When I’ve come into conflict with CC leadership, here’s the bottom line: fire me and find someone else, or deal with my decision. Finding a director in most places around me is like trapping a unicorn. It doesn’t come easy, and I feel like the pushbacks I’ve had to make are justified and worth putting my role on the line to protect the people in my community.

    No regrets.

    1. I also have no regrets, but my lack of regrets is due to leaving CC after 9 years. I also have no regrets in those 9 years with CC either. My decision to leave was mostly due to CC no longer offering what my children needed educationally. My oldest did well in Essentials her first year. She got it. Her second year was ok. She still got it and really owned it. Her third year was horrible. Her classmates lack of participation and behavioral issues were only a part of the struggle. She was bored with the content offered by the curriculum! Her work at home deviated pretty far from doing just CC. I directed her Challenge A class. I had taught math to 7th graders for years before my kids. I don’t regret doing it. That directing job opened my eyes to the lack of true support within the CC structure. After the 19-20 school year, I made up my mind to be done with CC unless the year was beautiful educationally because of CC. That was a fervent prayer. Lord, make our CC experience beautiful. Instead, He answered with a realization that CC was no longer a good fit for my family educationally. The community we miss. The freedom educationally this school year has been beautiful.

      The knowledge that my hard work in laboring to direct and tutor is not lining Robert Bortins’ pocket book is just an icing on the cake. And I don’t say that with any sense of being disgruntled! Leigh Bortins is literally a genius. Her business idea capitalized on my willingness to make pennies for my labors in the field I have a degree. They have the right to run the business as they see fit. There will be consequences to their choices.

  11. I am very thankful for my CC community. I have worked 2 years as a Foundations and Essentials director and now about to complete my 2nd year as a Challenge director. CC has always been up front about where the money goes. They do encourage that we use their bookstore, though a lot of parents just share or resell their materials to others. They have always been up front about encouraging us on getting legal and financial advice elsewhere. I get paid directly by the parents and send a portion to CC. I do hardly get paid but this in light of the fact that it is the parents who pay me. We don’t want tuition raised. The parents directly get affected. CC has other ways of making money via the registration fees, licensing fees, the proprietary curricula, etc. I don’t see anything wrong in that. There is no compulsion that could not be avoided simply by not joining. I am thankful for the encouragement, the mentorship, the accountability, and the curriculum support.

  12. Are the homeschool parents involved are doing this for financial benefit? They compares CC to programs that sell items- schemes to sell makeup or a line of books through a mom for extra cash, as if these homeschooling moms would not be homeschooling even without CC and for no financial benefit.

    Why doesn’t this article compare corporate CC to any other publishing company, nor disclose anything but a high number of corporate income for shock value, ignoring any expenses or employee salaries in their company? Note: directors buy the product and volunteer to lead. They are not an “employee” although they get some cash to try to help balance the extra responsibility on top of a regular cc mom’s. They already homeschool, money or no money.

    A true comparison would be admitting that directors would do much of this same work attempting to pull together a “free co op” for their children and have the subsequent lack of respect for the value of time or structure. (I pay for CC because I did “free” co ops for years. There is no quality filter on free.

    The money is not controlling this. Please do not tear down this bridge between homeschool and private with such shoddy assumptions based on things in our world only being worth something when money is attached.

  13. Very manipulative and one-sided article, but not unexpected given the hostile nature of people and the axe they chose to grind. CC is good and bad, but I find the good outweighs the bad imho. If I did not think this way, I would find another co-op or go back to home-based schooling through Veritas Press. If it is not a good system, people will leave and find other option; in the meantime, build up and avoid tearing down people who are honestly trying to educate in the Christian youth. I find most people who write articles like this, are very skilled at being hyper-critical, but very poor at being gracious.

  14. I just left a CC community and will never return. The manipulative tactics used (especially at the Challenge level) has hurt my family, and their “rules” become smothering and ridiculous. We’ve only been in and out of CC for maybe the last 6-7 years, however, I’ve homeschooled for 23 years, graduated my two oldest years ago (not using CC) and have three left at home who are all at the Challenge level. I am not without experience or a “newbie” to the homeschool world, nor do I lack the giving of grace when I know we’re all a hot mess who need Jesus every second of our lives. With that said, I’m not sure where the accountability is in this company. While I *could have* made waves, demanded to meet with the higher-ups and have conversations, I decided not to waste my time and let God handle it. He does so far more perfectly than I ever could. I’ve washed my hand of CC and will NEVER be a part of it again and will encourage others to steer clear.

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