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.

Give a gift of $25 or more to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive a copy of “I Can’t Hear God Anymore: Life in A Dallas Cult” by Wendy Duncan. To donate, click here.

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.



Keep in touch with Julie and get updates in your inbox!

Don’t worry we won’t spam you.

More to explore

93 thoughts on “Whistleblowers Say Classical Conversations is Multi-Level Marketing Scheme that Exploits Homeschooling Parents”

  1. This article has no balance. You have interviewed a handful of disgruntled FORMER directors but apparently made no attempt to contact any of the thousands of CURRENT directors who appear to be satisfied with the arrangement.

    This feels like a hatchet job on an organization that has blessed literally hundreds of thousands of families over the years.

    1. John, Please note that Annie Ferguson is quoted throughout – a current director who indicated her ongoing commitment in her longtime role with CC. I spoke with another current CC contractor but afterward they asked for their name not to be used. Due to the non-disclosure agreement that all directors etc. are apparently required to sign, it was exceedingly difficult to get people to speak on the record.

    2. It appears that you and your wife work for Classical Conversations, Mr. Carpenter, so your indignation is understandable.

      The problem that’s being pointed out in the article is that, more often than not, directors do not realize the legal and financial responsibilities that they’ve taken on when they work for CC. Additionally, host churches do not realize the tremendous potential risk to their property tax exemption when they allow a CC group to use their facilities.

      CC cannot be completely honest about the director’s liability or the host church’s liability because the company would fold if it could not take advantage of free meeting space and minimally paid directors.

      When Christian women realize that as directors they are actually running a, by default, for profit business and that they’ve unknowingly taken on legal and financial liability that could impact or destroy their family’s financial stability, they tend to leave CC. When Christian women discover that they are actually running a business, ministry or not, and that that business could cause their host church to lose its property tax exemption, they tend to leave CC.

      It is hard for me to see how a Christian could support a company that trades on the name of Christ and that puts Christian women and families and Christian churches at such risk. All to make a buck.

    3. John, are you connected with this organization in any way? Full disclosure would be helpful to understand your comments.

    4. If it acts like a scam, it is a scam. All else is foolishness. So, Mr. Carpenter, are you an employee of this abusive organization? You sure jumped in fast to excuse what the Bible clearly calls inexcusable?

    5. Mr. Carpenter,

      With all respect, how is it you came to the extrapolation I am but a mere disgruntled former director?

      Do you know our stories? Have you taken the time to investigate our concerns? Have you taken the time to ensure your perspective benefits from hearing from literally hundreds or thousands of families who have felt exploited by Classical Conversations?

      Who is holding the hatchet?

    6. We were a CC family for nine years, all but one of those in leadership. Our location was extremely popular. We loved the Foundations/Essentials curriculum and enjoyed our CC years immensely. That being said, this article does accurately reflect my knowledge of CC and I have seen and experienced variations of the mistreatment described. In our city, CC has gone from very large to very small in a few years due to the issues. I am not optimistic about CC’s long term viability due to mismanagement and bizarre business practices.

    7. I homeschool, but have never been involved with CC. It does seem like the friend I know who was involved in teaching put an awful lot of time into it. The description in this article reminds me of what I went through with a program called Growing Kids God’s Way by the Ezzo’s. It felt like a cult, and I believe it basically was. I saw so many parents and kids harmed by it. There was a secular version called Babywise. It was very destructive and very deceptive and confusing and manipulative and so popular in so many good churches. I’m not sure if I agree with this new worldly way of “calling out” different Christian organizations and ministers by subjecting them to public accountability. My concern is that it does more harm than good for God’s Kingdom by causing people to become disillusioned about Christianity and all other representatives of Christ. We should first be dealing with it privately as much as possible and try to hold leaders accountable without making it public. Give them an opportunity to repent and rectify their situation. Follow the biblical model. If we can’t get them to see the error of their ways and make changes, then it might be necessary to bring the case before higher authorities, maybe within the church before exposing everything publicly. I would like to see some organized help to prayerfully and legitimately and Biblically deal with corruption and sin in the church, but you need to be careful that your mission of calling people out is not a way for your own selfish gain.

      1. I can assure you that in this case, many many efforts have been made to deal with this “in house”. Since CC is a corporation and not a church, there are no other avenues to address these kinds of issues. Matthew 18, for example, is meant to be used within a local church, not in dealing with a corporation that has abusive or unhealthy policies. I appreciate Julie’s desire to shine a light on things that other Christians seem willing to hide.

        1. Matthew 18 is supposed to be used if someone wrongs you. I saw CC use it to bully. One director created allegations against another director and then claimed she was wronged and the Matthew 18 process was used to bully the innocent director.

      2. I believe the colony was given ample opportunity “rectify their ways” with the woman who miscarried. I also don’t doubt many “employees” voiced concern and frustration over unrealized tax dues. They were given a chance and fell short. Whistleblowing is a godsend to the crushed, abused, exploited, voiceless. We should be praising those who give voice to them.

    8. Mr. Carpenter,

      Let me give you an idea of how CC dupes their directors. Have you ever attended a Director’s Licensing Orientation (DLO) given by CC’s Support Representatives?

      What would you expect to occur at a DLO training? Perhaps a discussion of the Licensing agreement? Maybe a discussion of possible legal and tax implications in the area that the director would be operating his or her business?

      What happens at a DLO is a 6-8 hour session that shows the director the themes and books that have been the annual focus for the past six years and how those themes have guided the organization. Followed by the company’s organizational hierarchy. Next is how much you are required to charge your families, the fees that are to be sent to corporate, and their due dates. Finally, you are told that if you have any questions about business or legal issues that you should contact a tax professional or attorney. During lunch another director informed me that I should file a fictitious business name with my county in order to open a business checking account, that was the extent of our licensing orientation – we didn’t even look at the licensing agreement.

      I did not leave that meeting knowing that I was operating a for-profit business. I did not leave that meeting knowing that I should be contacting my local country tax assessor to have the church building assessed for taxes based upon our usage. I did not leave that meeting knowing that I must have an independent liability policy for my business and would not be covered under the F/E directors policy just because we met at the same location at the same time.

      CC hides the realities of what a director is. It does all it can to make it appear that you are just a homeschooling mom leading a group of students at what feels like a co-op. “Anyone can be a tutor or director,” is their rallying cry, but that is not true. CC is not a mission field, it is WalMart masquerading as a non-profit. If CC was actually up-front with potential tutors and directors about the tax and liability implications, no one would direct.

      In addition, they certainly do not instruct their directors to inform the churches they use that they are a for-profit business and could potentially place their property tax exemption status in jeopardy. They do not tell the SRs that utilizing volunteers, especially teens, at summer practicums is illegal. Could you imagine for-profit WalMart holding a corporate retreat and asking their employees to donate their time and provide food, uncompensated, for the event? CC dupes again!

      The only thing CC Corporate is good at is hiding and covering their own tails. They have known about all of these issues for a long time and their only responses are, “CC doesn’t hire tutors, directors do,” “CC doesn’t contract with and meet in churches, directors and tutors do,” “CC doesn’t hire volunteers for practicums, SRs do,” They are slimy and they know it, I’ve heard that the CC fees have built a really nice rugby field though.

    9. Wrong. There are scores of harmed, spiritually abused and silenced state managers, state representatives, area representatives and directors. You will see the light…it just takes years to discern the truth about this organization.

    10. I am a current director. I love the bookstore and meeting with my community. The Director Licensing Agreement and downward pressure to market are highly suspect, as is the political agenda that is heavily pushed. I just got off a call with my Support Representative, urging me to take action through a lobbying organization founded by big business Koch brothers.

      This article is a fair representation of the income for and demands on those licensed. Change is needed.

    1. @John Carpenter, your linked in account still lists you as connected with Classical Conversations. Here is a cut an paste from your linked in account as of today:

      John Carpenter
      Communication Journalist at Classical Conversations
      Chattanooga, Tennessee Area76 connections

  2. John Carpenter

    You are right, Josh. You do quote Annie Ferguson several times, so I stand corrected. Although you mostly focused on her comments that might reflect negatively on CC. What percentage of her comments from the whole interview reflected positively on CC, and what percentage of those did you actually use?

    I’m really not trying to trash your reporting, Josh. I support you and the work of the Roys Report, but in this case I know there is so much more to the story.

    I doubt that few if any former directors still feel constrained in any way by the NDA, and they’re really not that difficult to find.

    I think your story still begs the question: why would tens of thousands of women (and a few men) over the years agree to serve as directors? Were they all duped? Why would so many of them serve year after year as directors if they were being taken advantage of? I think this is what Paul Harvey would have called, “the rest of the story.”

    1. CC Witness Protection

      In response to Mr. Carpenter – yes it’s difficult to get people to go on record. Many former Directors do indeed feel bound to the NDA because they value their integrity. Many also have been told repeatedly that to breathe a word of criticism about CC is to exhibit a lack of spiritual character, spread divisiveness amongst the body of believers, and sow discord. Those who speak up are often told they harbor a root of bitterness that can only be fixed when they get right with God.

      Those that return to direct often don’t have a clue – and don’t WANT a clue – of the legal liability they hold for misclassifying workers, misrepresenting their business to churches, or their responsibility as a business owner. When they ask CC team leaders for support they are told that CC doesn’t offer professional advice and they should contact an accountant or an attorney. Most do not because they don’t have the extra funds to do so and they assume that since they’re doing Gods work God will protect them. Those that do seek professional input are told quickly and firmly, in case after case, to distance themselves from this company as quickly as possible.

    2. Mr. Carpenter,
      I am one of those Directors. I stepped up to “serve” because ministry to women and homeschooling are both a huge passion of mine. I knew it was a business, but not all of the implications. I stepped up to serve.

      I stepped down five years later because I learned, belatedly, about the facts shared in this article, plus many others, that very much put Directors at financial and legal risk, especially those over Foundations/Essentials programs. No one told me about those risks when I signed up. And before you tell me that I should have done my own research – yes, but I did not think a Christian company would ever knowingly put me in a compromised position. But they did. And when Directors like myself raised questions about that, the answers we got from the CEO were inadequate. Those who have asked more questions have been removed, and even blocked, from online Director support groups, at the direction of the Corporate office.

      CC has enjoyed many years of growth with little accountability. This article IS “the rest of the story”, but only a part of it. There are many concerns and I am thankful to Julie Roys and Josh Shepherd for investigating them.

    3. I can answer your question. I served for 6 years as director because I loved my community. I ignored the “red flags”, including having my SR gossip about me and encourage others to call her to discuss me. Questions about IC vs employee, etc. I watched the SR direct people moving to the area to communities further away because she wanted to build those communities over ours. I kept thinking it was likely only a local problem. I continued to allow myself to be used by CC and her until I realized we were operating erroneously and should have been paying property taxes for using a church building. I contacted my new SR who contacted the AR (my previous SR). They told me I was wrong, shouldn’t look into it more and should drop it. I did my research and “made it right” with our local government. Still, even after showing them the documentation that showed we were operating illegally, they denied it and refused to change how we operated. That was my final straw. They were fine letting me bear what could have been thousands of dollars in back fines. That’s when I looked into the company more and learned how so many across the country were suffering from some of the same abuses I had dealt with. That’s when I met a lady at my local homeschool convention who just left CC as well, because her F/E director’s husband was a convicted pedophile and not only did they never disclose this to their community, they brought kids to their home. When she contacted the area AR and up, she was told that they should forgive and move on. The “rest of the story” is even more horrendous than this.

      1. I also witness a manager allowing one director to bully another director. Directors are supposed to all be lateral positions and only answer to managers, not other directors, but the manager encouraged this unacceptable behavior. The leadership used God to justify very ungodly behavior.

    4. For the love of Mammon, please repent John! Jesus was right when he called people like you out with your pride and love of money. The other John (the Baptist) told those like you to “keep fruit in keeping with repentance.” Please do, or you will find yourself in a cell in hell with a demon reserved for “false believers.” I have seen this for myself and it was the most real thing I have ever experienced! Scamming a few bucks off of some people here is hardly worth having that in the next, and permanent life!

  3. John Carpenter

    Dear Jamie,
    Since CC has only served a little over a hundred thousand families during its 23-year existence, it’s hard to imagine that hundreds of thousands of families have felt exploited by CC. I have personally met or communicated with hundreds of CC families, and I would estimate that 98% of them have a very positive opinion of CC.

    Is CC perfect? Obviously not. It is made up of sinful, fallible people. It has made and will continue to make mistakes. My prayer is that, while I don’t agree with the tone and lack of balance in the article, that God will use these criticisms, both the just and the unjust, to help CC improve its business practices and more fully accomplish its mission: to know God and to make him known.

    1. Jamie Buckland

      Dear Mr. Carpenter, I said hundreds OR thousands, not hundreds of thousands, just to be clear.

      Considering the size of the FB group where all of us began noticing the similarities, and considering the number of men and women I have personally spoken with, I am certain there are at least a thousand, possibly more, who aren’t able to report back a solely positive experience. And then considering the percentage which makes up leadership, those who would be closer to the issues, noticing them and working through them, it makes sense that mere parents wouldn’t be aware of what the licensees are enduring in order to pull off programs.

      I understand, with your limited experience, it is hard for you to understand this.

      But it isn’t hard for me at all. Why? I obviously have way more experience with the business model and its implications than you do.

      You may estimate based off of your limited experience, and you may critique our offerings, but you do so from a limited perspective and it shows. So while you’re accusing us of wanting to only share one side, might I ask how you aren’t doing the same? Do you have refutations for our claims? Or are you just dismissing them in favor of the majority opinion?

      We are all fallible. For sure. But it is my hope that as more of our stories are shared, you’ll be enlightened to the intentional deception that is harming and exploiting vulnerable homeschooling mothers. I speak for the mistreated, how ever many that may be. Hebrews 13

  4. As a former CC tutor (who was repeatedly pressured to become a director) who drank the Koolaid, I believe most former and current CC directors were and still are most definitely duped. Once I figured out just how closely CC resembles a MLM scheme, I was out. And I felt relieved to leave. From all the required “free” (yet not free) practicums where you sit for ten hours a day (for three days; UGH!) listening to someone drone on and on about nothing except CC brainwashing material, and you figure out that you could learn a lot more by reading a book on homeschooling in the back of the room (which I happily did at every practicum to the ire of the CC speaker), to the ridiculous fees that go straight to CC corporate, I was thoroughly appalled. I paid an “Arts” fee for each of my students, and guess what that bought? A package of printer paper and markers. Supposedly for art projects; that’s lame. So either our director kept the Arts fee or something sketchy was happening. I know a lot of people are disgruntled with CC and unfortunately many students when they are older will one day reminisce about how they were part of this purportedly Christian homeschool co-op that was a ripoff and a waste of time. This article was accurate reporting, and if you don’t like what was reported, it’s probably because you’re still drinking the CC Koolaid.

  5. Our family has been a part of CC for about four years. My wife worked as a director and is currently a tutor. She does not make very much money doing it, and she did not make very much as a director either, but then again, we never entered CC to make money. The tax issue was a challenge for us to navigate at first. A couple of years we had someone help us with it, although we knew we would have to pay taxes on any income made. Now it is a little easier since we are more familiar with it. I cannot speak to some of the other issues that were mentioned in this article since overall our experience has been positive, and we have never experienced anything that we would consider abusive.

  6. The issues raised in this article are important discussion topics, both for prospective and current participants in CC as well as for all quasi-ministry and nonprofit businesses. The tone of the article is lamentable, as is the supercilious attitude all whistleblowers throughout history have taken. But we can’t say that the topic is irrelevant.

    Many have argued that churches ought to all be “for-profit” businesses in every way. But then the leaders would have to train for or hire expert staff to handle that side of things… That is another discussion, one which I have had many times with other elders and pastors but so far all the talk hasn’t led to that elusive one “right” answer.

    I agree that any “resource” business would be wise to carefully consider all of the downstream business tasks and responsibilities their clients will be drawn into. Ideally, those aspects should be built into the model upfront. I have family members participating in CC and have consulted with them a bit based on my self-employed IT Consulting business experience. I would suggest that everyone who becomes self-employed (I was a licensed provider for multi-national tech companies) faces a learning curve that “surprises” them during the first few years. And I’ve seen that CC does leave that for-profit business plan side of things up to their directors.

    On the other hand, I’ve also seen the unbelievable educational results that “full” participation in CC delivers. This only comes through fairly strict cooperation with “the system” as a whole. I’d have to doublecheck, but I believe the Foundations curriculum at least is fully adequate as the core for an entire homeschool program. In any case, the “products”, the unbelievably well-educated children that emerge from CC, would make any objective observer turn the glare of their accusatory klieg lights onto public education and stop wasting time “calling out” CC. Just sayin’…

    My wife and I were arrested for homeschooling by the bullies infesting the public education tyranny. This was 30-40 years ago when we didn’t know a single other homeschooling family in our area. If only CC had existed back then… I should add that I had a degree in education at the time and they still “assumed” that some form of educational child abuse was going on–without even investigating!

    Back to this article and its concerns regarding CC’s business model and the profitability it offers to its directors. I agree that this is a critically important topic for Christian leaders and anyone who care about Christian education. Can CC directors and representatives thrive in their “ministries”? Are the pressures they are put under excessive or even more than necessary? And most importantly, who should be responsible for making up for any past shortcomings and avoiding them in the future?

    This is an emotional set of questions despite being just about “business”. It is the futures of our children, after all, and the future of our country; the cry of future generations for having a well-educated citizenry and potential leaders is at stake!

    Some “facts of life” about homeschooling in general ought to be considered. First, I’ve mentored and helped teach a slew of homeschooled students when they ended up in Bible college. Some were geniuses and some, sadly, were “un-schooled”. The problem is that a lot of parents see the issues that arise from abandoning their kids to public school indoctrination and miseducation while failing to have a vision for what to do instead. While studying education in college, even before I was married, I decided that no child of mine would “go to school”. I had a vision for what could be done. But hardly anyone else is like me. Even I am not like me. But with inspirational support groups or co-ops, there are an alternatives; options do exist for all Christian families.

    One of those options today is CC. Whether a parent just has students registered in CC or is also a tutor or director, the workload of homeschooling is “full time”. Public education taxes us to the point of many thousands of dollars a year per pupil to pay for that version of education. Private schools are more, unless they are subsidized. Homeschooling is usually less than a thousand a year when done in a fully DIY manner. So all parents who teach their own children are paying themselves in time and effort and expenses the equivalent of many thousands of dollars.

    CC tutors are just some of those parents who also get a few hundred in cash back for sharing their extra effort in the co-op. Directors, however, do a lot of extra work and get a few thousand cash back for their efforts. If these tutors and directors wanted to get paid at public school teacher salaries, they would have to charge five to ten times as much to the other parents. But then it wouldn’t be a ministry…

    The trouble is, thanks to Julie Roys, we now know that “ministry” leaders all expect to get paid at corporate executive levels, and this just to browbeat their staffs and strut around like peacocks. That isn’t fair! Why don’t CC tutors get to do that; after all, they are actually doing something “real” like teaching our children!

    Why are we so predisposed to hyperventilate when someone has a business and makes a profit? And why do we think that we peons have to be led by the hand to start our own businesses that also provide social and spiritual benefits to families in our neighborhood? Can’t we just learn–possibly in our “small” local church–that our lives are our own personal responsibilities? Must we have someone save us from ourselves?

    Yet, I still do think that educational program businesses would be well-advised to keep polishing their packages so that clients are better served with each passing year. But painting their portraits as black as sin in order to shame them into not offending us observers in the cheap seats, well, that’s further than I will admit going. Superciliousness, on the other hand, is obviously something I don’t have a problem with…

    1. “Why are we so predisposed to hyperventilate when someone has a business and makes a profit?”

      Nobody has an issue with someone having a business and making a profit. The issue is that this company uses Christ’s name to deceive women into thinking they are merely a “ministry,” and “just a group of homeschooling moms getting together to teach their kids.”

      Why is the company not honest with potential and current directors about this? Because the company’s entire business model would collapse if they could not get free meeting space and minimally paid directors to run their programs.

      “And why do we think that we peons have to be led by the hand to start our own businesses that also provide social and spiritual benefits to families in our neighborhood?”

      A better question is: How dare a company call itself “Christian,” tell women that “God is calling them to be a director for the company,” and, knowing that there are serious potential issues for both the Christian women and the host churches, NOT inform them of the issues to be aware of and to address?

      This company’s portrait IS “black as sin,” imo.

      1. Well, you might know something that those moms don’t know. I only know that I’ve seen in person a group of volunteer moms doing an excellent job of homeschooling because of the focus and direction that CC has given them. They also can put in some extra work and get some financial return for that work. And the materials are excellent and cheap compared to the school textbooks I paid for at a vastly more expensive “normal” Christian school. My daughter is a director, I might add. Yes, the pressure to grow the system is part of the business environment but it isn’t different from every single job I’ve even had.

    2. I don’t know you Phil, but your comment resonates. I’ve used CC for going on 9 years now and the education my kids will have received by the time they graduate, especially considering the money we’ve put into it, is light years beyond what me or my husband got from the public school system, and what we could’ve afforded in the best private school available to us.
      I’ve also directed, and while there is a nugget of accuracy here and there in this article regarding the business aspect, the reduction of the CC model to a mere MLM scheme is not established. The article estimates CC’s corporate income without attempting to establish what it’s expenses might be, as if income in the millions for a multinational corporation is particularly concerning. And licensing propriety intellectual property and pedagogical methods for the purpose of supporting local homeschool communities isn’t at all comparable to cleaning products or skincare. I don’t know why this needs to be said.
      After living through 2020, I’m more grateful than ever that my kids’ [high school!] education was not stifled or suspended like nearly everyone else’s in the world. We were able to navigate our circumstances with our local CC community and stay connected with human contact. On top of that, we aren’t subject to the whims of a school board beholden to special interests or political agendas.
      I am still searching for the perfect educational system. If these very vocal critics of CC find it, please post on your blogs.

  7. John,

    Our family was heavily entrenched in Classical Conversations, my wife being JJ Veale. Our desire has never been to destroy anything CC was doing and in fact spent 3 years trying to work with CC to fix the issues related in this article. At no point was our family in leadership to make a lot of money, but we also never intended to put our family at risk of losing everything we had to support an organization that ended up caring more about itself than the people who propped it up in local communities.

    Over the 3 year period we hosted Robert Bortens, reached out to our local leadership, regional leadership, and national leadership to work through these issues to only be ignored by all. My wife served faithfully and magnificently in an area of the country nobody from National leadership could understand. When we tried to explain the travel distances, population challenges, and regional differences of the Southwest we we’re ignored.

    Our realizations and concerns with the business practices of CC multiplied in learning of Jamie Buckland and Carol Topps, as well as many others, attempts to help solve the problems that were found. Your assumption that the desires of those who have spoken out in this article as “a hatchet job” could not be further from the truth. The desire of our hearts was for truth to be know, CC’s motto, and all we received was silence. (And from some leaders, spiritual shaming.)

    Our family is not disgruntled, we miss the curriculum we loved so much and are heart broken and have mourned that loss for more than 2 years. In our research and study we came to a realization we could no longer support an organization that hides behind its own structure and, rather than help those who support it, seeks to ostracize and smear the names of those who offer to help.

    By the way, I was an SR, Director of Challenge A, Challenge 1, and Challenge 3 in my time as well as being married to a very successful and caring Foundations Tutor, Foundations And Essentials Director, SR, and AR within CC.

  8. I was with CC in various roles for seven years. I loved it until…. I began researching the rumors for MYSELF. I was devastated to learn that everything in this article Is true. Actually it’s much worse. When I began to ask questions and not accept CCs canned answers, I was ghosted and gaslit- cult techniques. Hear the stories of THOUSANdS on the the uncensored Facebook pages:
    Let Us Reason For Real
    Talk Classical Conversations

  9. I happen to know someone who worked at Corporate. This individual told me that it is a case of poor training and poor communication that causes this dissatisfaction. It has been going on for a long, long time, but since CC has so many happy customers they have not bothered to fix the problem. I was told the local directors know what the pay will be going in because they are required to sign paperwork that tells them what they will be paid. But there is a real lack of training to help them be more efficient, and successful in their role.

    1. Marsha – regarding the lack of training.

      This is completely true. There is an ongoing need for leadership development. The best I ever saw it addressed during my tenure was when Ken Sande addressed ARs at a Learning Forum about Relational Wisdom. It was wonderful.

      I know for a fact that the CC corporate team was offered a proposal for further training that would hopefully reduce conflict in the Fall of 2015. It was well-received. And then fell off the plate, I suppose. It was certainly never implemented. In retrospect I guess that’s because the leadership is classified as Independent Contractors, which means they should already possess the skill set needed to perform their job (or be classified as employees… which is way more expensive.) Thats just speculation on my part.

      I just thought it would be an interesting tidbit to the conversation to put out there that this is NOT a new problem and it has had MANY people attempt to address it and help. Those attempts have been denied or ignored.

    2. CC Witness Protection

      Another response to Marsha re: Directors knowing the pay before going in.

      This is traditionally untrue.

      All of these items are revealed to the Directors in their DLG (Directors Licensing Guide). Except you can’t get a copy of the DLG until *after* the Directors contract for the year is signed.

      Tricky, tricky, huh?!

  10. California Grandfather

    My grandkids utilized Classical Conversations curriculum and area group meetings. A number of the parents were professionals and excellent teachers in their own right which benefited everyone.

    It was a great experience, a solid foundational education, and vastly superior to CA public schools, schools from which everyone fled. The larger area group provided the kids an opportunity to socialize and make friends.

    Unlike the public schools the kids formerly attended, kids could be divided into groups based on ability and academic progress, could touch each other on the playground, had no unruly kids disrupting the education process, were reading Western classical works of literature instead of inane, poorly written propaganda on identity politics, didn’t need police or metal detector sweeps to enter class, could pray, said the Pledge of Allegiance, read the Bible, and utilized the formerly wasted commuting and industrial assembly line red tape time to pursue music and the arts (drama and painting). Local youth sports provided physical fitness opportunities. There wasn’t an obese kid in the area group. The combination of home schooling and groups brought a perfect balance. Kids were memorizing the Bill of Rights, learning about Constitutional government, memorizing famous English poets, famous American speeches, learning Latin and Spanish, and reading Shakespeare. The group was more than half Asian and Hispanic.

    Every time I was in a social setting with other parents with public school kids, they’d remark to me how intelligent my grandkids were, often complimenting them on their excellent vocabulary and the wide range of knowledge they had acquired as grade schoolers.

    There may be some shortcomings in Classical Conversations, but whatever they are, they pale to the disaster that is the public school system.

  11. Our family has been in the CC community for a few years and my wife agreed to become the director for the upcoming year. During the process we uncovered several of the concerns listed in the article. Separately, our accountant and business attorney gave us identical council regarding employment law, specifically the classification surrounding tutors as contractors vs. employees. When we ask our SR for clarity, she replied with, “Your Attorney doesn’t understand.” Ultimately, that our local council was wrong. We then asked for written responses to a few questions for the attorney to review, and each time this was refused throughout multiple escalations up the chain of command. They only wanted to meet over a video call to “establish where we were coming from, and see if this was a good fit for us.” As soon as we began to ask for any clarity, we were shut down. The lack of transparency and disregard for our legal concerns eventually led us to withdraw from the directorship commitment. I agree 100% that the directors are taking on a very large amount of risk without it being explained to them. We love our community and our families, and hope for the best.

    1. Jamie Buckland

      Ding ding ding ding ding! I have been told that numerous attorneys, county assessors, CPAs, government officials, they all have it wrong.

    2. James, thank you for your comment. And thank you for taking the time and expense to consult with an accountant and attorney before entering into a licensing agreement. As the CPA mentioned in the article, I find it very helpful when other accountants and attorneys advise their clients as I have advised the Directors I have spoken with. Confirmation from other professionals in other states is very helpful.
      I am deeply concerned about the liabilities that CC Directors shoulder as you listed in your comment. I am writing blog posts, airing podcast episodes, and agreed to be interviewed for this article in an attempt to help potential Directors such as your wife make fully informed decisions.

  12. Thank you Mr. Shepherd and TRR for more great reporting.

    “Classical Conversations” seems like a strange name for an education company or ministry. In all my years under the instruction of teachers and parents, I never once thought I was having a “conversation” with them. We don’t enter the classroom / lecture hall, or open a text book to have a conversation with the instructor.

    Perhaps the name is subtle advertisement for it’s true mission — a classic con-game. It’s the type of thing other con-men would pick up on.

    The duck test is also helpful in identifying these pyramid schemes: if it looks like a pyramid, walks like a pyramid, quacks like a pyramid…It’s a duck pyramid.

  13. I don’t necessarily care if something’s an MLM if the quality’s good. Unfortunately I have found more than a few errors in CC curriculum that make me question its quality.

  14. Parents do need quality alternatives to public school education which is becoming a disaster. Hopefully CC can get its house in order. I know of Moms who enter CC to give quality education and not necessarily make a profit. However, if the churches are being deceived as to what is taking place in their buildings, that is an atrocity. There needs to be a packet of information put together to hand to churches willing to open up their facilities, many at no cost, so that churches are aware of what is involved. This will truly sour churches against trying to make facilities available only to find out that they now have a “for profit” entity operating within their facilities and now face legal challenges. That is not right! CC should be able to have legal counsel available to write up the necessary documents to present. CC may have great educational material, but they need to get their business and legal house in order! Rather than just blindly defending what is taking place, corporate needs to listen and make some changes so as to do a better job. The book of Proverbs reminds us that it is a fool who rejects counsel. So if there are any individuals reading this article and comments or anyone who might have their ear, use these comments to create a better organization. If I was pastoring a church and made facilities available at not cost to CC and found out I had been lied to (probably unknowingly be the local organizer), I would be pretty upset.

  15. After 10+ years in CC in various roles I still do not feel like a “poor duped homeschool mom.” What is wrong with me? My husband and I actually still 100% believe that God led us to CC and that our children are blessed because of it. We have had legal advice and been satisfied and I do not live in fear of an audit because my brilliant husband has done due diligence and reported our taxes appropriately. I have many homeschooling friends and what drew us to CC was the results, many CC kids that we met had what we wanted for our children. We researched many options and Now, 10 yrs later, we are satisfied and thankful that we could provide the same benefits to our kids. I have continued to research other options for the sake of due diligence and have not found the same “product” for a comparable price tag in 10 years. We have not found objectionable business practices in our years with CC and have actually found the leadership in our state to be some of the most gracious and caring people we know and they have been in CC for many years as well. I know this is based on personal experience but I think if an article is going to accept a negative personal experience then I wanted to offer the balance of a positive one to the readers. After years of being a part of several co-ops And educational programs as well as CC, we have found a level of quality and excellence unsurpassed by other companies as well as a host of God-loving people that we are blessed to have in our lives.

    1. Serving Kids in Japan

      I think if an article is going to accept a negative personal experience then I wanted to offer the balance of a positive one to the readers.

      Well, thanks.

      In the same spirit, I hope you’ve read the accounts of these former CC employees with an open mind, and taken them to heart. I’m not convinced that the Bortins have any interest in doing so.

    2. Jamie Buckland

      What state are you in? I would sincerely love to know.

      Having worked with professionals across the US, I can honestly say I have yet to find a CC director operating their business in compliance with county, state, and federal regulations.

      If you’ve ever attended or worked at a practicum, as a business owner, you have solicited a volunteer to work for free as an employee without pay. Are you aware of the labor laws protecting volunteers from contributing to the profit of a for profit corporation and the consequences of for profits soliciting volunteers to further their profit?

  16. I got a link this morning to read this article. It’s the same article slightly modified from 4 years ago. Here is the issue that this group of “disgruntled” folks miss in every single article and letter they write. For them, it’s always a return to the money (which is adequately skewed to perfectly adorn their narrative) What do they leave out, you may wonder? The why. Why aren’t these disgruntled people leaders anymore? It is always portrayed as voluntary. Strange that they never address that. If they won’t say, I will leave them covered. The heartbeat behind CC is the outcome of the parents and students. Tens of thousands of successful transitions to adulthood. Tens of thousands of students able to articulate their Biblical Worldview. Tens of thousands of students offered scholarships AND specifically recruited because of their CC education! Not to mention the Parents whose educations have been redeemed. CC has never pretended it wasn’t a business-ever- at any time. Even now, while bashing CC, this site is asking for money, while complaining about CC being greedy. With their profits, CC is spreading the Gospel, translating home education materials, and supporting emerging homeschooling in 48 countries currently. What is it this site is collecting money for? In CC, the blessing for parents to be able to rise up, be trained, and grow in their homeschooling ability and be able to pay for the program with their earnings is a blessing to most. I’m sorry this very important teacher felt slighted. Why did she not feel empowered to just- go get another job? I feel a sorrow for this repeated letter because the continued pursuit is going to rot guts. I imagine these pursuits cause great distress in the family to have a pursuit against the beautiful move of God happening across the world. You are missing it! This article makes accusations and a weak generalization using a ridiculous sample to bash a curriculum publisher and tutoring service that is VOLUNTARY to be a part of. No one is coerced to lead. Dozens of hours of leadership training are provided. Primarily women, and thousands of them, are empowered. Women are trained and given leadership skills that they can take to other positions. The Scriptures tell us that everything concealed will be revealed. We are at peace with that. Are you? Yes, I have been in CC for 15 years and successfully graduated 3 kids…so far. At least give a balanced view!

    1. Hi, Jen. Yours response is the most common response I see. You all follow the same pattern:

      Reverse Victim and Offender

      You play right into the cacaphony of a spiritually abusive organization.

      1. Serving Kids in Japan

        The use of the word ‘disgruntled’, right off the bat, is a dead giveaway. It’s textbook thought-stopping, meant to characterize the critic as resentful and unreliable.

        Not only that, but based on a careful reading of Jen’s comment, I’m not convinced she even read the article.

      2. This right here is exactly what is going on. Yikes. This is messed up. There is no humble recognition of the problem but just what April Palmer says: denial, attack, and reversing victim and offender. That means it’s not going to improve, folks. The Bortins know what they are doing and will continue to do it. Follow the money. It’s always about the money.

    2. People voluntarily entered into Bill Gothard’s ATI program as well. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a corrupt organization, nor does it mean CC isn’t completely shady and exploiting insecure homeschooling parents by yammering non stop that they can’t do it alone, and encouraging members to hector their friends into the group by undermining their confidence at homeschooling their own way.

      Do you realize that this group is being compared to the Ezzos? That’s not exactly a point of pride.

      No one “owns” a homeschooling movement. Have people not learned time and time again what happens when you prop up for profit homeschool companies? The Bortins might not have the skeletons in their closets that Doug Philips or Bill Gothard had, but anytime you deify a person/movement within the homeschooling community, try to shield them from criticism, and protect them from being called out, all it does is damage the entire population of homeschoolers by further connecting us with exploitative nut jobs.

      If people want a classical education, we need to be honest and tell them that they need to find a classical school. You aren’t getting a classical education by reading chants out of an overpriced manual led by a fellow homeschool parent with no expertise in the area of study. CC is neither classical, nor a conversation. Kids aren’t even allowed to discuss the topic at hand with their “tutor”. They’re told to save questions for home. Most people would do better to stay home, and educate their children by having actual, you know, conversations. You can get a great education through homeschooling, but it is not a classical education to memorize a bunch of chants and then do an IEW writing program. (Not that there is anything wrong with IEW- but this isn’t progym and was never meant to be.)

      Let’s be real. CC is many things, but classical education, ministry, and empowering of women it is not. It is an MLM targeting financially and emotionally insecure homeschooling parents who could do all of the things they are supposedly getting from CC for free. They have been conned into thinking that you have to pay for “community” which is really quite sad.

      1. YES!! They attempt to make you believe CC is the only way, the right way. Just like the horrible series from the Ezzos Growing Kids God’s Way. I could not agree more in the idea that they con insecure homeschooling parents into thinking they need weekly accountability and pay for community. They don’t. Parents could use encouraging support and homeschool mentors, but they don’t need CC’s overpriced materials or tuition. Do you know what you can purchase in books with the money you would have spent on CC tuition, exorbitant fees, etc.? A lot of amazing books!! Skip CC, get a mentor, friend, someone who knows the ropes, make your own community, and do it yourself. You’ll save time, money, and your sanity.

      2. Last two sentences are a great summary. The curriculum is middling—I describe it as a good intro for those completely ignorant of classical teaching methods, classical ed. lite. It works when parents (and community) put in the hard work and learn themselves.

        I was homeschooled and one of the reasons CC hasn’t done great in this area is because there are sooooo many other coops and hybrid schools showing how you people can organize themselves and teach their children without a national umbrella organization, or wasting a lot of time at various extra meetings and “training” weekends.

    3. A question for you, Jenn. If CC were about empowering women then wouldn’t it be more empowering to pay them an actual living wage in return for peddling the product? These women aren’t even making minimum wage for what often seems to be the upper end of part time work. If tutoring is voluntary, then why do the women need to pay to be tutors? Couldn’t CC still be a successful business simply by selling curricula like the vast majority of other publishers?

    4. One last point, for anyone reading the comments- this statement by Jen:

      “Tens of thousands of students offered scholarships AND specifically recruited because of their CC education!”

      is patently false and lol worthy.

      Colleges do not seek out CC members and CC applicants go right into the same homeschool application file as all other homeschool applicants. There is nothing special about Classical Conversations. College admission advisors do not give a flip whether or not a homeschool student used Classical Conversations. It is not accredited or a formal school. It is simply a homeschool curriculum. It is no different than calling one’s self a Well Trained Mind Homeschool. No one cares. They care about test scores and things that make a student a unique applicant like a specific passion. They do not care if you were a Memory Master. No one *needs* CC for anything much less to get into college, so let’s stop with the “specifically recruited” because of a CC education nonsense.

  17. Serving Kids in Japan

    Dear Jen,

    So much in your comment bothers me, I’m not sure where to start. But it raises a few very basic questions.

    It’s the same article slightly modified from 4 years ago.

    The ‘same article’ from where? What site or publication? Do you have a link?

    I’m sorry this very important teacher felt slighted.

    Which ‘very important teacher’? The article includes testimonies from several former instructors and directors.

    Did you even read the whole thing?

  18. I’m beginning to wonder if a popular homeschool blogger and once long-time fan of CC, who’d been interviewed by CC corporate for her blog, who has since surprisingly decided not to continue in the program thinks similarly to those in the article. She contributed a ton to the CC platform of songs and resources for tutors. Some of you may know who I’m talking about.

    When we quit CC, I did not want to throw CC under the bus by pointing out its teaching flaws (let alone the issues with all my time devoted to preparing for class as a tutor and barely getting paid or the endless financial/tax issues that come from their conveniently labeling me as an “independent contractor”) because a lot of my friends loved it. For a year prior I kept questioning myself and wondering if I were crazy because I just didn’t get the hype anymore but all my friends were enthralled. After we quit, in some ways, I kicked myself for not quitting sooner, because prior to joining CC we had a great at-home rhythm going and CC kind of messed it up. None of the curriculum is so special that you can’t get similar elsewhere if you choose to do it on your own as part of your own classical homeschool. You may actually find that Foundations is not that much of a foundation and that guess what…Essentials isn’t indeed essential. Don’t even get me started about the rigorous pointlessness of the work that is Challenge when barely any of the students actually prepare for Presentations and so they barely make any progress in public speaking and there is little actual in-depth, challenging conversations on the material.

    Frankly, anything CC can do, I CAN DO BETTER.

    And we do, for a lot less money and a lot more joy.

  19. Simply Saddened

    It almost isn’t even worth the time to post here because I know who is passing this article around at the moment…the same people that sit on all these FB groups for years regurgitating the same topics, and trashing CC even though they have left it far behind (or perhaps not quite so far…), or have never even belonged to it.

    It is worth pointing out that CC joined with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF – the organization of lawyers that defended “Jack the Baker”), and offered FREE memberships to churches that hosted communities. Why? Because ADF firmly believed that churches are well within their legal rights to host CC communities. The problem, they believe, is that churches get scared, and don’t exercise those rights. I think that gift from CC to churches speaks volumes about not only the legality of what they are doing, but also the heart to protect and care for the churches that are opening their doors to homeschoolers.

    I’ve been in CC for 9 years now – tutoring, Directing, SR – and the number one thing I appreciate above the heart they truly have for homeschoolers is their willingness to listen to feedback, and continually improve upon not only their curriculum, but especially the “business” aspect. It continues to be honed, and fine tuned year after year.

    Perhaps you should take a look at CC’s own Business Practice FAQ page regarding a number of these topics to educate yourselves:

    I wish you would hear more of the other side of this issue, but it seems that nobody is interested in that. People appear to be more interested in any “dirt” they can find – especially, it would seem, against other Believers. That would appear to be the body and soul of this whole website…so sad. Please consider that with each one of these personal experiences you published, there is a whole other side to each and every one of those stories. I have found that the majority of the time, the people that feel so free to share their side, are the ones who are not above reproach themselves. That is not always the case, I’ll grant you – but I do know there is much more to the stories shared here.

    So perhaps the side of the story you are hearing is not the whole truth. Something to consider…

    1. You know this article is getting passed around at CC, Corporate also, right? CC is “drafting a response.” It will surely be more double speak and confusion. Like those “free” ADF memberships that (small print) didn’t cover property tax disputes. Those “free” ADF memberships that constantly tried to sell the church “upgraded” memberships. I believe It was more of an, “I’ll scratch your back; you scratch mine” arrangement. Look into it. Follow the links they gave you to present to churches. You may be even more saddened.

The Roys Report seeks to foster thoughtful and respectful dialogue. Toward that end, the site requires that people use their full name when commenting. Also, any comments with profanity, name-calling, and/or a nasty tone will be deleted.

Comments are limited to 300 words.

Leave a Reply

The Roys Report seeks to foster thoughtful and respectful dialogue. Toward that end, the site requires that people register before they begin commenting. This means no anonymous comments will be allowed. Also, any comments with profanity, name-calling, and/or a nasty tone will be deleted.
MOST popular articles

Don't miss the stories that matter!

Sign up to receive our Daily News Digest


Hi. We see this is the third article this month you’ve found worth reading. Great! Would you consider making a tax-deductible donation to help our journalists continue to report the truth and restore the church?

Your tax-deductible gift helps our journalists report the truth and hold Christian leaders and organizations accountable. Give a gift of $30 or more to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive a copy of “Escaping the Maze of Spiritual Abuse” by Dr. Lisa Oakley and Justin Humphreys.