Find out why my family left Classical Conversations, including the problems we experienced with the curriculum, expectations, and corporate.
Before I get in to why my family left Classical Conversations, I’d like to start from the beginning, with why we joined in the first place.
If you aren’t aware of Classical Conversations (which I’ll refer to as CC), they are an educational group for homeschoolers. According to their website, they have 117,000 students enrolled in CC, so it’s a huge, worldwide corporation.
After attending an informational meeting and practicum, we joined CC in 2015, and we were part of CC communities for 4 years.
As a first time homeschooling mom, who grew up in public school, I was definitely nervous about how to homeschool, and how to know if I was doing it “right.” Because of this, CC sounded like a God send to me.
- A community for my kids, so they wouldn’t feel like they were the only homeschoolers in the world.
- A curriculum that helped “Know God and make Him known.”
- Someone else doing art and science with my kids, so the mess didn’t have to happen in my house.
The closest community was about 45 miles away, but we were willing to drive that far each week, for 24 weeks, in order to make it happen.
That first year I had mixed feelings. I adored our community– they were incredible people, and I still feel fondly for them, so I hope that none of them feel offended if they read this post. If they hadn’t been as amazing as they were, we probably would have left much earlier, once I started to have doubts.
So what kind of doubts did I have? I would broadly classify them as problems with expectations, problems with the curriculum, lack of God in the curriculum, and problems with corporate.
For some reason, most of the negative comments I’ve gotten about this post are in regards to the fact that I wanted to outsource a small amount of our homeschool, and therefore I’m “lazy, and might as well send my kids to public school.” I have no problem with you leaving your comments that say you think I’m wrong, but it’s not wrong to outsource some of your child’s education. It’s why music teachers, sports coaches, and tutors of all kinds exist. If I put my kids in ballet lessons, it doesn’t mean I should just put them in public school. That’s a silly argument, with no logic. So if you feel offended by this article, at least do me the favor of reading the entire article, and attacking my arguments, instead of attacking me. Thanks!
Problems with Expectations
One of the first things that I struggled with was what was expected of me, as the mom. We had just dished out what felt like an awful lot of money to me ($820 for our 2 kids’ tuition, plus about $100 for the Foundations Guide). Then, at our first community day, we were all told we needed to volunteer for something. I had been willing to pay that much money to have less on my plate, not more, so that really bugged me. If it were a co-op, I would completely understand that, but then, co-ops don’t cost nearly a grand for two kids.
I also learned that the teachers were really called tutors, because it wasn’t their job to teach my kids at all. Their job was to teach ME how to teach my kids. That wasn’t at all what I had expected. I already knew how to teach my kids, and I didn’t need a class to teach ME to teach my kids.
Add to that the fact that in our 4 years of being in CC, I was typically the only mom (or one of 2 moms) in the classroom, with a bunch of other people’s kids, and it just didn’t seem to make sense. If the goal was truly to teach the parents, shouldn’t all kids in a family be grouped together, so the mom could be present with her kids?
Instead, I was not only the one being “taught” by the tutor, I was also helping herd other people’s kids to bathroom breaks, helping other people’s kids do art and science projects, and helping deal with classroom management. It was so not what I thought I had signed up for.
I had purposely avoided an actual co-op, because I was in a place in my life where I just needed to outsource a small amount of our homeschooling, and have less stress. Instead, I had paid far more than I would have for a co-op (in my area co-ops are typically just the cost of supplies), but I was still stuck with responsibilities of a co-op.
I also felt like Classical Conversations had been erroneously sold to me as a “stick in the sand” curriculum (this is literally a phrase they use to sell the curriculum). I was told that the ONLY thing I needed to buy was the Foundations Guide. Then it turned out that in addition to the Foundations Guide, I also needed a tin whistle for each kid (CC charges $11 per tin whistle). We also needed to buy the cd, so the kids would be able to practice the songs that they learned during community day (and there is a different set of cds for each cycle, and each set costs $35). Then I found out that really, you should also buy the timeline cards (another $100) and the memory work flash cards (another $30 per cycle).
It’s not that I had a problem with the things needed, but more with the fact that it was presented as ALL you need is the guide, when in reality, that’s not all you need. It ends up being so far from stick in the sand that it’s ridiculous to even keep saying that line.
(And in case you’re not following the math on this, we’re now at $1100 for our first year in CC.)
Problems with the Curriculum
That first year was eye opening for me. We loved the history sentences the kids learned each week. My kids adored the timeline song. And I’m not going to lie: it was kind of nice when people asked what the kids had been learning (as some people love to do to homeschoolers), and one of the kids rattled off the history of the founding of Islam, or a list of prepositions, or something like that.
However, I was quickly underwhelmed by the art and science. Let’s start with the art. Art is divided into 4 groups of 6 weeks each. 6 weeks of fine arts, 6 weeks of tin whistle, 6 weeks of famous artists, and 6 weeks of orchestra & composers.
The kids enjoyed some of it, but the new edition changed the orchestra and composers section terribly. For 6 weeks, the kids were supposed to listen to the same 3 songs over and over. Each week, those same 3 songs. And CC instructed tutors to have them just listen. No coloring, no acting out the music, just sit and listen. My kids could (and do) sit and listen to classical music at home, and it costs us nothing. It felt like a waste of community time.
The fine arts tended to be a lot of drawing pictures with crayons or colored pencils. Not a bad thing, but once again, something that wasn’t worth my paying someone else to oversee.
As far as the science goes, it was just awful (and it got worse with the newest revision of the Foundations Guide). There were something like 4 weeks in Cycle 1 where the kids spent the entire science time looking at rocks. Now I am fascinated by geology, but 4 weeks in a row of looking at rocks with a magnifying glass was just too much.
In Cycle 3, there are 6 weeks of probability. First off, I wouldn’t consider that science (though I know it is used in science), but rather math. Second, the kids were again SO bored with rolling dice and recording how many times we got each number, or flipping coins and recording how many tails and heads. Introducing probability is great, but 6 weeks of it in a row is overkill.
Science can be so exciting and interesting, but CC really doesn’t do it justice. There were many weeks that the science “experiment” took less than 5 minutes, and all of the moms were looking at each other saying, “That’s it?”
Strangely enough, while art and science were one of the greatest reasons I joined CC, they were actually the smallest part of the curriculum I had issue with.
I was told that CC was “a complete curriculum,” but that I might want to add a math and reading curriculum to it. It turned out that CC wasn’t much of a curriculum at all, in my opinion. Sure, the kids memorized a few sentences about Emperor Constantine (for example), but that was it. They knew nothing more about each subject than a simple memorized paragraph. They memorized cloud types, but never actually knew what those cloud types looked like.
By claiming it’s a complete curriculum, and being constantly told to “trust the process,” we weren’t being encouraged to let our kids dig deep into the subjects and really LEARN about them!
I would go and get books that went along with what we learned, and my kids and I would dig deeper, but that’s discouraged by CC.
I also struggled with why certain things were included in the information my kids would learn, while other things were skipped. Why did my kids need to know the commutative law for addition and multiplication, but not the order of operations? Order of operations seems to be used much more often, and would be a handy thing to know, but that’s not in there at all.
5th Edition Foundations Guide
When the 5th edition Foundations Guide came out, and we had to re-purchase a guide that I had been told would be the only thing we needed to buy, which had already been proven false, I was annoyed, but hopeful that maybe the new guides would be a little better than the 4th edition.
When we received our 5th edition guide, and I saw that there were flaws and mess ups throughout the book, I figured that like any good curriculum company, Classical Conversations would try to make it right (print out the wrong pages and send them to the customers, or at the least send an errata sheet to each customer so they could fix the errors). But they didn’t.
In fact, despite the fact that these issues were brought to their attention, they never sent out any type of communication to let people know what the correct information was. I had to dig pretty deep, and spend many hours to finally find an errata for the guide.
Instead of CC owning up to the mistakes, moms like me had to embarrass the tutors by correcting them when they were attempting to teach the kids (ahem, I meant while they were teaching us moms) the information. While I didn’t want to have to correct the tutor in front of the kids, I also wasn’t willing to let her teach wrong information.
Not only did CC not inform the purchasers of the Foundations Guide that there were mistakes, they went even further to pretend that one of the geography mistakes was on purpose, and recommended that if you’d like to “dig deeper” you can buy their cartography book (which is also riddled with mistakes).
Instead of owning up to the mistakes they had made, CC made those who questioned the mistakes look like they were in the wrong for questioning and not being willing to “dig deep,” implying that they maybe weren’t up to the challenge of CC.
This is their words in regards to the fact that one of the places the kids were supposed to learn wasn’t even included on the maps: “To inspire families to dig a little deeper, they can think of it as excavating treasure as they research or discuss ancient locations or compare locations to modern-day names or locations. Since ancient locations are the focus in this cycle, not all locations are shown on the Foundations maps.”
It’s definitely true that not all locations need to be shown on the maps. However, it stands to reason that the locations that the kids are supposed to be memorizing ought to be on the maps. It wasn’t inspiring to me that they couldn’t own up to their mistakes, when they expect perfection from children, with their Memory Masters program.
Where’s God in all this?
Most of all, I struggled with the fact that a curriculum company whose tagline is “To know God and to make Him known” had so little about God in the curriculum. My kids memorized history sentences about Greek and Roman gods, Islam, Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and more, but not a single sentence about Jesus Christ.
The timeline includes Jesus, several missionaries, and some early church information, and there are a couple of verses memorized in cycle 1 and cycle 3, but other than that, and the fact that they write “God” in the middle of the board each week, there was very little God in CC’s Foundations curriculum.
This was one of the biggest things that bummed me out. I feel that it’s a missed opportunity. While I don’t mind my kids being exposed to, and understanding, what other religions are about, the number one god I want them to learn about is the One True God, and CC really misses the boat on that. (It’s possible that it’s better in the Challenge program, but I really can’t speak to that, since I have no experience with that.)
Problems with Corporate: Shady business practices
Through all the rest of this, I pushed the nagging, “something isn’t quite right” issues out of mind, and tried to focus on the positives. Fortunately for me, the person who brought the errata sheet to my attention also invited me to join a Facebook group where I learned more about Classical Conversations that went beyond the mistakes and poor curriculum.
I had never really given thought to the fact that CC is in fact a for-profit business. They really market themselves as a ministry. This isn’t just a “feeling” I got– I was actually emailed many times from CC corporate, about volunteering for this “ministry.” That seems like an odd choice of wording for a multi-million dollar, for-profit corporation.
Maybe it doesn’t seem like a big deal to you that CC is a corporation, but it is definitely a big deal in how they are running their communities.
First, the majority of communities meet in churches. While CC will tell you that they aren’t actually the ones placing communities in churches (which is true; however, the tutoring programs CC licenses are for-profit), I have been told that they encourage communities to meet in churches. Churches are non-profit and, therefore, don’t have to pay property taxes. However, if a church decides to start allowing a for-profit entity to operate inside the church, they could end up losing their property tax exemption and have to pay property taxes.
Think about it this way: if Starbucks suddenly decided to start operating out of “churches” in order to skip paying property taxes, it would be obvious that the building isn’t really being operated as a non-profit church. CC is doing the same thing, but it’s less likely to be spotted due to the fact that they portray themselves as a ministry, “just a group of homeschool moms,” along with the fact that often educational institutes are non-profit, so we just assume that’s the case.
Classical Conversations directors also may be misclassifying their employees. Tutors are hired as independent contractors, yet often treated as employees. In most cases, it is obvious that tutors are hired incorrectly- they should be employees (I’m no tax expert, but here’s the opinion of someone who is). This is how CC tells directors to hire the tutors, which then makes the burden of liability fall on those directors.
The hiring setup has been changed in California (one state that is really cracking down on this), which shows that CC Corporate is aware of the problem, but that they’re willing to skirt the law in areas where it’s not being cracked down on. It was implied by corporate that the fine wasn’t enough in other states to make it worth being aligned with the law.
CC also encourages volunteers. Every summer, highschoolers are encouraged to sign up to volunteer for Practicum. They are told that they can use these hours as volunteer hours for scholarship applications and other purposes. In light of the fact that CC is a multi-million dollar corporation, they cannot legally use volunteers.
Can you imagine Wal-Mart trying to recruit volunteers? For-profit businesses can offer unpaid internships, but there are actually strict guidelines on that, and CC Practicum volunteers wouldn’t fall under those guidelines, due to the fact that CC does gain something from the use of highschoolers (Practicum is a huge money maker for CC) and the highschool students are definitely displacing a paid worker that would be required if there weren’t enough volunteers.
I wish that these were the only shady business practices the Classical Conversations was participating in, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other issues that come from corporate down to the local level due to the hierarchy of the program.
Final Thoughts on Classical Conversations
While I absolutely loved the people in the two Classical Conversations communities my family participated in, we are leaving knowing that we already stayed too long. I cannot continue to support CC, knowing what I do now.
My hope is that in reading this, other families will see that CC is a corporation that is not operating in a godly manner, while claiming the name of God, and will find out that they could do so much better with their money & time, than join a CC community.
Looking for more homeschooling posts? Check these out!
Homeschool Crafts are Great for the Brain
Why Older Kids Still Need Read Alouds
Click here to pin this post!
I really appreciated your take, and have experienced some of these same issues/questions as we went along. I’m currently torn about next year, as I’m finally wanting to use CM methods exclusively. My children are getting older, all will be in a Challenge program next year, so I feel time is of the essence. There are some great things in the Challenge curriculum, but also things I find very dry & a lot of time (& stress) wasted on *electives*….Latin, logic, debate, etc. Much emphasis is put on these in high school. I find inconsistencies with using very tough curriculum in (middle grades) Challenge A & B, college level Latin & Logic (eyerolls), that have caused many tears at my house, rather than a love of learning. While other subjects are left out or given very basic treatment….The ONLY thing causing me to think twice is the social aspect! My 3 children love the friends, as do I. But it will be almost $5 K for my 3 children, that’s so much money to not be really pleased with curriculum. One last thought I’ll add, is from a Challenge perspective it has been hard to feel that I can adequately keep my students accountable! Back to that tutor/mom is teacher thing you mentioned. Older students need much accountability with increasingly harder subjects. I feel pressured to be an expert or “hold hands” with mine all day to make certain they are understanding & doing all weekly tasks in the guide. I have no desire to go back to school & become proficient in ALL of these subjects! I want to help of course, but I feel out of the loop & frustrated unless I do each thing with them, which isn’t possible with 3, plus life!!
Oh to be reading living books today!😊😊
Jamie H says
While my kids aren’t at highschool level yet, here’s what we’ve found works best for us: We have a few homeschool families that we’ve decided to deepen relationships with. Rather than do a co-op, we each homeschool our kids the way that works best for our family, and then we get together in the afternoons several days a week. Sometimes we’ll do an elective class together (right now we’re doing ballroom dancing and a CAD class), sometimes the kids just have unstructured time together, where they can play card or board games, ride bikes, build things, bake, or whatever they’d like. We’ve found this to work so much better for us. None of the families feels pressured to school in a way that works better for another family, and the time spent together is the kids actually interacting with each other, and building solid friendships.
This may better explain the church tax exemption – https://cchomeoffice.com/business-practice-faq/
Jeannie Beavers says
Thank you for writing this post. This has answered a lot of questions for me. Today, I was told that CC (just the Foundations books) could be used as a curriculum all by itself for my daughter. I almost ordered it today without doing any research about it. Then my husband mentioned there was an issue or something along those lines with CC and few years back. Then, I stumble upon your website and I am so thankful that I did! Thank you for going into such detail about this! It answered a lot of my questions!
Is there another curriculum that you would recommend? My daughter has a tutor for dyslexia so I am not able to do much in the area of reading with her. Only the papers the tutor gives me. But I need something with science, history, art, and those important subjects. We do Abeka for math which is great. Any recommendations? Thank you! Jeannie Beavers
Jamie H says
I’m so glad to be of help, Jeannie! How old is your daughter? I use Berean Builders for science for my kids, and we’ve used Story of the World and America’s Story for history. I don’t use an art curriculum, we just add in art to go along with history, mostly, and my kids are always doing some sort of art project. As the years have gone by, I’ve found myself more and more drawn to a Charlotte Mason style education, using lots of living books (we do many of these as read alouds).
Emily P says
I appreciate your insight. I have never done C, but my sister did and I have many friends who do an it definitely hasn’t seemed quite right to me. I do teach at our co-op, which is a non profit, but I signed up knowing that!
Jamie H says
You’re welcome! I have had a lot of people be negative about my remarks about having to help in the class– I have no problem helping in a class, I was just surprised by it, considering the cost, and that it’s a co-op. That’s why I wanted to include that information. At the time we joined CC, I was looking for something that would make life easier for me, not add more, so I wanted people to know going in, if they choose to join CC.
GMB Review says
Families should refer to these and great insights.
Allen Wolfe says
Interesting guide and ideas that everyone can refer through it.
Victoria Vanandel says
Thank you for this well thought out post. I can’t tell you how helpful it is for me just starting out and attempting to navigate homeschooling. You mention Claritas as a God centred Classical option and a quick look into their material reveals a wealth of well laid out cycles of learning. Later on in your replies to various comments you listed the curriculum that you are currently using and I did not see Claritas mentioned there. Did you complete their cycles and then move on to other things or are you not using them for other reasons? My son is 6 and in Grade 1. We are currently considering joining a CC community and so I was so thankful to read your post as all the things I had heard and read about it were almost glowingly positive and that warranted more research. I have read some books on Charlotte Mason’s philosophies for education and am drawn into that as well. We currently are using The Good and the Beautiful for language arts and RightStart for math. I am a covid homeschooler who never considered homeschooling our son prior to all the craziness of 2020. I look at homeschooling as covid’s gift to our family because in being throw into it we found a treasure that we would have otherwise passed over completely. I am looking for curriculum recommendations and how to find communities when you are new to an area.
Jamie H says
What a blessing that something terrible ended up bringing you to the lovely experience of homeschooling!
We started out using Claritas after we left CC, but I’ve just found myself so much more drawn to literature and hands on learning, and less towards rote memorization, so we stopped doing memory work aside from scripture.
I think that Facebook and word of mouth can be a good way to find community these days. We found a couple other homeschool families that we share values with (we don’t all homeschool the same way, but we all love Jesus and have similar parenting styles), and created community for ourselves. While we don’t do classes or a co-op together, we started out getting together for things like Valentine’s Day, New Year’s, St. Patrick’s, etc, and as we got to know each other better we’ve become more involved in each other’s lives. I hope that helps!
As a homeschooling mom whose kids have been enrolled in CC for the past 10+ years across 5 communities and 2 countries, I can definitely appreciate (and agree with) many of your points. Ironically, my end result is different – we cheerfully continue to be a CC family, bearing with the negatives. I entered CC completely incompetent both as a Christian parent and a home educator; over years of participation and increasing competence my family has been incredibly blessed. In our time abroad, our previous USA CC experience provided a bespoke opportunity for our family to bless others.
In my mind, the beauty of CC – equipping ordinary moms to grow into increasing roles of capacity/service within the home/community – is also the root of many of its evils. CC preaches that mums can learn anything they set their mind upon, but when ordinary mums have increasing positions of authority/responsibility, novice mistakes are to be expected. I love that CC is a parent-run organization, but I wholeheartedly agree that many CC products enter the marketplace with inexcusable errors. It is a hard balancing act. Using Christianity and the empowering of parents as an excuse for poor business acumen and perhaps some legal transgressions is not a good witness. I suspect they do now have ample capital to hire experts where needed, but such requires discernment/humility to know where they are needed. Thus, I agree that CC organizational culture fosters a degree of unprofessionalism, but I consider most of CC’s errors the result of incompetency/inexperience instead of malicious design. Perhaps as you discussed CC Corporate has not duly corrected mistakes when identified; admittedly, I haven’t pursued those details myself.
I’ve had the opportunity to participate in the growth of a CC organization abroad and can attest that out of necessity many moms (including myself) were serving in ways in which they felt ill equipped – our legal status as we adopted to a foreign economy was probably also a bit dubious. We did the best we could with limited resources, and the Lord used the existing CC framework as an assembling point for international home educators desperate for community often with no existing family, church or community support. CC is a for-profit organization but does have an element of ministry. Having tutored/directed over most of our years, I fully believe the worker is worthy of her wages, but abroad all of my CC earnings were willingly fed back into the infant communities. All of the CC leaders abroad with whom I interfaced saw it as a ministry to support families, beginning with their own children. Admittedly, over the years my family’s opinion of CC USA corporate has been not entirely favorable, but all the corporate individuals I personally interfaced with worked tirelessly to support CC internationally and were passionate about CC as a ministry, at times waiving fees and bypassing hurdles, understanding that in many locations it was a Godsend to the participating families. Ultimately, knowing the international corporate team raised my opinion of CC corporate. Internationally, profit and quotas are not yet sources of corruption – the idea of marketing is repugnant.
I believe CC is a great program – but there is a bit of variance on a local level in terms of academic expectations. I find I’ve always expanded upon the art/science under my cognizance and have found it to be quite suitable when so approached; I agree that the bare minimum as written in the Foundations Guide is a bit limited for the older classrooms, but I appreciate the freedom the simple framework provides. Families digging deeper into material at home (given it doesn’t overwhelm them) has always been encouraged and becomes necessary as students mature. I’ve appreciated using CC curricula as a framework from which we have shaped our family’s ever shifting homeschool methods and preferences. Sometimes I disagree with the timing or particular choices dictated by CC but appreciate having the freedom to teach what best suits my family at home. I find the framework liberating rather than restrictive.
Every CC group has its own subculture, into which they insert prayer, scripture memorization, and/or Christian message, but admittedly with Foundations being rather scripted there is limited time for additional Biblical teaching other than seeing all subjects and students from a Biblical worldview. (Later programs are less scripted and much Biblical conversation takes place.) I suspect the decision was made to avoid direct Christian teaching (for the youngest program) so as to avoid denominational conflicts, but that is just my hunch. For example, I’ve been really blessed to be graciously rebuked by Catholic friends, whom I inadvertently offended, in handling some of the differences. Given the greater spiritual darkness abroad, I found that within the CC community there was a comparatively greater focus on community day being an offering of worship and true Christian fellowship. Grace and relationships trumped program, though academic content was faithfully administered.
I’ve witnessed one situation of extreme poor judgement in conflicts at the USA regional level, but I think the CC policies for conflict resolution within a community are rather appropriate and God-honoring. Perhaps they are not always appropriately implemented as they require spiritual maturity, relational sensitivity and humility of leadership. CC has spread rapidly and needs to better investigate/oversee leadership where grievances have been addressed.
Just wanted to repeat that I really appreciated your clear and logical argument; there were a few small points upon which I disagree, but overall, I concur. As all human institutions are liable to corruption so too is this one despite its Christian ideals. While the Lord led you to leave CC, He guides my family to stay put, bearing with the negatives and doing our part to uphold the integrity of the programs by exhorting leaders to serve faithfully abroad and endeavoring to serve faithfully in our own local, domestic community. May God bless both our choices and raise up this generation to serve Him faithfully!
Jamie H says
Thank you so much for sharing your experience with CC, Christy!
I went for a trial session today, with my four year old, and everything you said here, is how I felt. I got instant MLM vibes from the director, asking about opening up a CC in my town and how they’re trying to find someone who is willing, if I’m up for it or know anyone etc.
They were memorizing basic sentences and songs but not actually learning anything. Singing a song about “between 1800 and 1900 the monarchs were…” like my child is FOUR. She doesn’t know what 1800’s or what monarchs are. I’m not paying for her to memorize things that I can write down on a piece of paper myself.
Song were played off a parents phone and again, aside from the assembly in the beginning, there was no mention of God. They mentioned an Islamic monarch and takes about space.
I had such high and innocent hopes for it but so glad I got that gut feeling. The director literally just messaged me as I’m typing this (7:40pm what?!) to see how I feel about it. Yikes.
Thank you for your testimony ❤️
Jamie H says
I hope you can find community in a way that will fit your family better, Natasha. I actually did like some of the history sentences, but you could easily just buy the cds, and save a lot of time and money. Lol. And I agree, learning the sentences with no background or framework for understanding the information is just silly.
Yes to everything you shared. I had similar experiences and thoughts, and even more. I was part of a lovely community for 4 years. I tutored foundations for 2 of those years and directed challenge for the other two. And I loved it. Until the last year, when the other directors and I finally submitted a grievance to our sales manager about some problems that had been going on for a DECADE with one of the people in our “chain of command”. After MONTHS of not being listened to, the whole thing culminated with me being FIRED simply because I wouldn’t recant what we had written. When I complained further up the chain, they decided that the other directors (who were apparently going to be fired as well) and I could finish the year, which we did for the sake of our students. None of us were asked to come back. Not that we would have wanted to. CC has no way of dealing with conflict. They will repeat the “Matthew 18!” mantra over and over, which apparently means just deal with it yourself. But if the conflict isn’t resolved, they do not have a conflict resolution or HR department to help. My entire community folded, and most of us ended up at a new, amazing, TRULY classical co-op that has been nothing but a joy.
Jamie H says
I think the saddest part is that so many people have reached out to CC, trying to help the company do better and operate ethically, and they’ve either been ignored or treated like you. There are women who were threatened with lawsuits due to speaking out about the issues of a corporation operating within a church, or the issues of a corporation using volunteer labor, or other issues. Others have had their name besmirched, or been shunned by their former communities, and so many have dealt with spiritual manipulation. It’s just heartbreaking.
I’m so glad that your experience ended up for the good. What a blessing to have a life-giving co-op to be part of!
Thank you so much for sharing. Did you still with a classical education? What did you do after you left CC?
Jamie H says
Right after leaving, we continued with a classical education, switching to Claritas for memory work. However, as time has gone by, I have realized that I really appreciate a Charlotte Mason approach more, so we’ve switched to a more literature based education instead.
I absolutely love that you had the courage to share your experiences with CC. I understand that everyone has a different experience, but I so wish I would have found your blog before I hopped in and paid $1,000. I had the WORST experience and was treated poorly by the Director when I mentioned things that I felt were wrong. Sad. I have left CC and did not join a similar group in town. I feel like I wasted my time and my children’s time. We also came to CC because I desperately wanted my children to feel like they had a community and I just loved the idea that they would have a teacher. What a bummer to find out that, among other things, were not what they appeared.
Thank you so much for sharing your story.
Jamie H says
I’m so sorry you had a bad experience. I had looked all over for reviews of CC before we joined, and couldn’t find anything negative. I thought this was a good thing, but later found out that it’s because CC is great at censoring those who speak against them. I’ve now heard stories of CC moms being threatened with lawsuits due to speaking out about the things they experienced. It’s so sad.
I am praying right now that God will help you find the community you desire for your kids. For me, that’s come about with 2 other moms who have similar aged kids. We started out getting together to celebrate holidays, or go on field trips together, but our kids (and us moms) have become dear friends. I pray you find something similar!
I am not a member of CC, although I did visit an open house in the spring, and everyone was so nice. Like you the money just kept adding up. I believe for my three kids it was going to be over $2,000!!! I have decided to use Notgrass as my main curriculum, Apologia, The Good and the Beautiful and the math-u-see…I am a new homeschool mom, this will be my second year and like you I wish I had done it sooner; however, I know He has a plan and that wasn’t part of it…I’m sorry you were so unhappy, and I completely understand your liking the idea of CC I felt the same way…I just wanted to have some help and a day to be with other people in the same situation. I wanted my kids to have some friends that are homeschooled and could hopefully connect with. I was thinking of purchasing the CC CD for them to listen to in the car and was wondering if you thought it was worth it? (it’s on clearance) Mostly for the President song and just to memorize some facts. My kids are 6, 10 and 13, so I would probably get the first cd. Thanks!
Jamie H says
We actually really loved some of the old songs. I haven’t listened to the newer CDs, so I’m not sure if they’re as good.
Yes, the price tag is quite steep. While we were doing CC, there were so many homeschool things I wanted to do, but our budget was always tight. It was nice that after leaving, I was able to buy everything I wanted to, and I still didn’t spend even half as much as we had been paying! In fact, the difference nearly funded a family vacation.
Thanks!!! I appreciate it!!!
Thanks for your review! New homeschool mom here putting the pieces together day by day while researching possibilities. I have found some great resources on Youtube in regards to the songs and I downloaded the CC app ($10) which has all the memory work week by week. Between the two my kids are learning the material without a current community.
Jamie H says
That’s probably the best way to do it, in my opinion. I think some of the songs are really catchy and helpful in remembering information.
I agree 100% with everything you wrote. We did CC for 3 years. My husband became “famous” for his science videos on YouTube because he actually taught how to do the experiments. VanCleaves book is a disaster among all the other things you listed.
I agree with you, the people were what kept me there. Luckily our campus dissolved (all but one family out of 13!) and we all started a Scholé group. It was amazing. Truly classical learning. I wouldn’t do CC again if it was free. ( I know I know, it’s SO cheap compared to a private Christian school).
Jamie H says
Elizabeth, I completely agree on the science. Out of all the wonderful curriculum out there, I just can’t figure out why they stick with VanCleaves. Especially at the younger ages, science should be hands on, fun, explosive, exciting, and it will make kids want to learn more in the older years.
That’s fabulous that you were able to take your community with you to a new experience!
Kathy Buskett says
Thank you so much for writing this. I am using it right now to steer someone away from this organization.
I had a friend who kept trying to recruit me to
C C but I had a funny feeling about it and I went digging and found similar stories. I don’t remember exactly what I found but it was enough to make me not want to join. I know that “feeling” was the Holy Spirit warning me. Over time I’ve come to understand I shouldn’t ignore Him.
My friend also kept saying “stick in the sand” but then she would tell me how much work she had to put into it. It just didn’t seem to fit.
She invited me to a special event at the end of the year where the kids all sang a song together and talked about a certain historical figure. I personally DO have a problem with my kids learning all about False gods as the Bible says to not even name them. So it actually goes against the Bible.
Let me encourage anyone struggling with CC to get out. Look up the expose last year by Julie Roys who found that CC exploits its “tutors”. And PRAY about it. I have been homeschooling on my own for going on seven years now. Th Lord has guided me in finding books and curriculum and I trust he will continue to do that. I (and you) don’t need anyone to do it for you. As believers we have the Holy Spirit to guide us if we will trust Him and let Him do his work instead of trusting in companies and in man.
I have homeschooled for 15 years, the last 6 have been with CC and have been our happy place!
We all have freedom to share our experiences, but your “experience” was quite limited with CC. As someone who has been in various leadership positions from directing F/E as well as most Challenge levels, you totally missed the heart of our organization.
Everything we do is for a purpose. God is truly at the center. We use a classical approach to learning, which means we go with the natural grain of development, to cultivate a love of learning and curiosity about God and His world.
Did you realize there are 5 crisp components to a CC day? 30 minute segments to keep it fun and engaging while building classical skills.
The 1st component- New Grammar is just that, a set number of pegs of information in 6 subjects when they are young, and their brains more readily able to memorize, on which to hang a framework to make connections as they mature, for greater understanding, knowledge and wisdom when they are ready. We keep the main thing the main thing in New Grammar, which is memorization, otherwise the memory peg gets lost.
Fine Arts – Like you mentioned above, four 6 week segments:
OiLs – Basics of Art
Music Theory using the tin whistle – which by the way, I always say is required because we use it every year.
Artists Study – learning about the artist and mimicking their work. Project choices are at the directors discretion. I always chose projects that mimicked the artist as closely as my budget allowed balanced with being fun and engaging.
Composers – this section focused on attention to detail. Listening closely for the various instruments introduced in Music Theory. Students also learn about the composers.
*During Fine Art we always made sure to guide conversations back to God
Hands on Science – rotation between experiments and experiences of God’s world! *Perfect time for God at the center of conversation!
Presentation- students choice to present on any topic. Show and Tell to get students accustomed to talking infront of a safe group, while practicing public speaking skills like eye contact volume, not fidgeting, etc…
And finally Review- Review of 6weeks of memory work in a fun and engaging way.
The above is just for prep thru 6th grade.
Students 4th-6th grade are maturing to handle a rigorous English grammar/writing program the 2nd half of the Community day called Essentials of the English Language. This leads them step by step from a key word outline to a 5 paragraph paper as well as learning English Grammar in an organized and comprehensive manner. They celebrate the work at the end of the year with a Faces of History report which displays the grasp of skills like research and an understanding of correct grammar usage.
Now, for what I actually joined CC for, the Challenge years!
Each year has a theme all building towards developing leaders who think for themselves and love God.
7th grade- Challenge A
Personal Investment builds Ownership
Highlights: Science Fair, Draw the world from memory, draw the body from memory
8th grade- Challenge B
Ownership Builds Discipline
Highlights: Defeating Darwinism, Mock Trial, Write their own short story to be published in the class anthology
9th grade- Challenge 1
Discipline Allows Freedom
Highlights: Learn to formally debate, pretend investment, study of original American Documents
10th grade- Challenge 2
Freedom Brings Choices
Highlights: Policy/Lincoln Douglas debates, write an Art Grant, think deeply about “How Should We Then Live”- based on art affecting culture and vice versa
11th grade- Challenge 3
Choices Bring Consequences
Highlights: More debates, Shakespeare, Am History, philosophy
12th grade- Challenge 4
Consequences Define Leaders
Highlights: Student led classes with Director to facilitate, Research, present and defend their Senior Thesis!
Now, I’ve facilitated class discussions where the students blew me away with the ideas that were grappled with and it was good! I am still in awe of the conversations CC kids have between each other, important topics to make a difference instead of being caught up in trivial fodder.
I’m sorry your “experience” wasn’t as beautiful as mine. I jumped in when my son was in Challenge 2 and went through 3 and 4. I wish I would have started earlier! But, my daughter is getting the full scope and sequence. It is truly an education that I could not have provided alone!
Jamie H says
I’m glad your CC experience has been so great! I wouldn’t say mine was awful– like I said in my post, I loved our communities, and I left with no hard feelings towards anyone. However, I just can’t support an organization that pushes so much liability on churches and homeschool moms, asks people to “volunteer” for “ministry” to a million dollar corporation, and skirts the laws in many ways. In my opinion, there are far superior programs.
As far as my “experience” as you put it being limited (not sure why it’s in quotation marks, but I can only assume you’re implying that my experience isn’t valid), if you check out the Facebook group I referenced in the post, you’ll see that my experience is echoed by other homeschool parents from all across the United States. You’ll also find that some of those homeschool parents were tutors, directors, and even SRs and ARs. These were people who were all in.
CC is not a good fit for every family. Nor is every family a good fit for CC. Admittedly, there are some things that I struggle with in being part of a CC community. However, most of your testimony of CC is either slightly skewed or flat out dishonest. (I agree with you on new guides riddled with mistakes – grrrr!) I am entering my 13th year with CC, having tutored Foundations for 7 years, Chal I and II the last 2 years, graduated my first in May, and starting my last this fall. I have had my complaints. But being in leadership and spending many years with CC gives you a perspective into what they do. In other words, it’s easy to be an armchair quarter back.
I don’t have time to address all of the fallacious accusations in your post. But there is one. You mentioned a lack of focus on God and His Word. Well, in cycle 3 we memorize John 1:1-7 in English and Latin, cycle 2 is Ephesians chapter 6, and cycle 1, which just ended (my favorote) was Exodus 20:1-17. I mention that one last for emphasis, for in that passage is the commandment not to bear false witness.
I’m glad you are happy schooling outside of CC. But that doesn’t mean CC is wrong. I hope those interested will seek further than your testimony alone.
Jamie H says
I’m sorry you feel like I’m being dishonest in my feelings, Stephanie. I didn’t say that there was no Biblical memorization, but that it seemed like such a small part. You’re right, there is some biblical memory work, but not nearly what I expected considering it’s lauded as “To Know God and Make Him Known.” In Claritas memory work, there is Bible work every week, not just for a couple of weeks out of the year. For us, this was a big thing– I want the Bible to be a priority. Also, I really don’t understand why there are history sentences about Buddha, Muslims, and Greek and Roman Gods, but not Jesus. I think that’s a terrible oversight.
Every reason you left mirrors every reason I’m having reservations about joining CC. I want to be part of something with my kids but your experience matches what my gut feels. Thanks for the well written review. I believe you helped confirm my “keep out” feeling.
Jamie H says
I’m so happy to help, Melinda! I hope you’re able to find the community you desire for your kids, but a true community, not just a paid-for community.
I’m so glad you wrote this post. We were invited to join a CC group years ago and it sounded good, but when I started looking closely at what it was, it did not seem like memorizing things and paying tons of money were the direction we should go. This is a very informative post and I appreciate your honesty even though I’m sure it wasn’t easy to write.
Jamie H says
Thanks for the positive comment, Kristi! This was an agonizing post to write, and one that took me about a year to write. I wanted to convey my feelings while also not allowing it to become too emotional. I also wanted to give a fair judgement about CC. I didn’t really want to write this post at all, but when I was looking into CC, I couldn’t find anything negative about it. Now I know that it’s because many people who have written honest reviews have been bullied into taking those reviews down. I want people who are looking into CC to see both sides of the company so they can make a more informed decision.
This is so spot on. I was a tutor for a few years there. I tried extra hard to make it easy on the parents in my room, but I loved having the moms there for the extra hands. But the business side of CC is lacking integrity in a major way. The first years I tutored, I was paid for the weeks I actually tutored. If I needed a substitute, the director paid them for the weeks I used them. That switched later. In my last year tutoring, while I was already feeling these things you mentioned, they changed it so that you got paid for every week, and had to pay a substitute directly when you used them. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? Well, we tutors got 1099s at the end of the year, which repotted we made a certain amount of money, and then I was taxed accordingly at tax time. But guess what? I didn’t actually make that money. I paid out of my own pocket to cover substitutes. They might have made more money than me if they subbed each week, but they were not given a 1099 by the director. So the tutors were effectively paying the subs’ taxes. And yes, you can write those costs off, but with the increase in standard deduction, you do not get that money back. Paying tutors as a 1099 employee is shady as anything, too. When you are told what your hours are, and how to do your job, you are an employee, not a contactor.
We finished the 19/20 school year. When I asked my director what CC would do if for some reason we were shut down (2020/2021 year), all she said was they hadn’t been told, but she was sure corporate would make it right. I absolutely wasn’t so sure after putting all of these other shady things together. So I decided to take a break that year. I was pregnant and just wasn’t willing to risk thousands of dollars for a maybe. Oh, and when we left, we didn’t hear from any of those wonderful friends anymore either. When you’re in, you’re in, but when you leave, you’re out. Even when I told my director I was taking the year off, I didn’t hear a thing back. Not a single word. So there I was, in the middle of a pandemic, pregnant, and the community I’d been a part of for 3 years was absent. It was tough going through the pregnancy isolated, but I felt worse for my daughter who had loved being a part of the group and no longer being invited to play dates or outside activities.
Jamie H says
I’m so sorry you had that experience during your pregnancy, but what a blessing that you didn’t have to deal with the pandemic nightmare. I’ve heard horror stories about that year and CC.
I hope you’ve been able to find a community that will truly stick with you and your kids, no matter what curriculum you use.
Since being out of CC have you found a program that ACTUALLY incorporates God in the curriculum? Like so many i am seeing reply that was one of my selling points as well for joining. This coming up year will be my first year with CC, of course i would have just finished paying for all my kids programs when i found this post.
Jamie H says
I’ve actually put together my own curriculum from a variety of sources, in order to focus our homeschool more on the things we think are important. Initially, when we first left CC, we did a year using Claritas. I definitely preferred Claritas to CC, since it has a 4 year history cycle instead of 3, and I felt like the math facts were much more usable than CC’s were. However, in the years since, I’ve found that I gravitate more and more towards a Charlotte Mason style approach to education, so we’re using less memorization of facts, and much more literature. If you’re wanting something similar to CC with more God in it, Claritas is great, though!
Rachel Jones says
I just left Classical Conversations last year which was my first year in an official group though my second year doing it on my own. Our community did three performances. One was a nativity play another was in essentials history performance for the kids dress up as characters and give a speech is a biography and the audience guesses who they are. It was so much fun and the kids did it end-of-the-year celebration performance that was really funny. I just love the confidence that my kids got from doing presentations every week. My kids often quoted poetry or sing a song from a musical or recited Bible verses that we had memorized at home. Just doing homeschooling by ourselves we could not have done that. And at our community the teachers for the ones who pulled it all together bringing God to the center of every subject and drawing correlations. Were you using the online resources? I loved the sound box which has about 80 pages of curriculum that you can print at home. You don’t print all of them you just pick and choose for your child’s interest in each level. I had all kinds of science and history and music resources and I told you how to do it at home. They also had poetry readings and science videos that my kids loved. It’s a really great resource. I was an essentials tutor last year and I didn’t know anything about it and now I really learned so much about grammar. I thought it was a really awesome program. It challenged my kid but he was really proud of what he had done at the end. As the essentials tutor I had made a portfolio of all of their assignments for each student and gave it back to them at the end of the year so they could see how much they improved and it was truly astounding . I can see your guises point about corporate. But I think at the local level all the Christian homeschooling moms are on the level. Also the statistics for students outcomes are amazing. Classical Conversations has been around for a long time so they are able to track the success. Classical education is so amazing and even if Classical Conversations doesn’t do it purposely I still think that it is the best program .
Jamie H says
There are definitely pluses to CC, but for me, the negatives at the corporate level made it a program I could no longer support.
As far as success, are you referring to the graduate surveys included in the catalogs? I do want to point out that the success that is tracked is completely voluntary (which will likely weed out any unsuccessful students, since who wants to brag about being unsuccessful?), and the last time I checked one of their graduate surveys, it was based off of around 25 students’ reports. That’s such a small survey result that we really can’t make any inference about CC based on it.
Thank you for the article. CC is everywhere in my community and I thought I was missing out on something. I never joined because of the cost. However, a lot of people seem to meet good friends in the CC community. I think that is the biggest pro.
Jamie H says
I agree, the community aspect is definitely nice. Sadly, we found that most of the people that we thought were our friends while we were in CC have stopped being our friends now that we’re not. 🙁
Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. The post and these comments make me feel less alone. I also left our CC community right at the pandemic and I have a lot of the same issues you had. The curriculum was really incomplete despite the insistence that it wasn’t and repeating everything every 3 years seemed like such a waste of time. There were big holes in the curriculum like the omission of the Civil Rights movement, the Holocaust and of course the Bible. My husband is a science teacher so he especially found the science memory work and the science experiments very weak. I had homeschooled without CC for several years before joining and I felt like joining CC was way more work for me despite the fact that I was paying way more money too. I too despised the Practicum and thought they were a waste of time but my kids loved seeing their friends at camp. Basically I was paying a lot of money for friendship and community. However our time with CC ended during the pandemic when our CC community continued to meet together regularly despite our state’s public health laws. I know people have different opinions about COVID but I was really shocked that these Christian families were blatantly disobeying state and county laws with their kids in tow. When I brought it up with the director who I thought was a friend, she got very defensive and insinuated that I wasn’t being supportive of her. My kids and I ended up joining an independent study program with a public school district here and it is a much better fit. It was rough at the beginning. My kids were behind academically despite CC’s complete curriculum but I love their teacher who makes my job as mom and educator so much easier. I don’t have to pay for anything anymore and I can request special books and resources as needed for free. My kids are thriving and I’m glad I left when I did because my kids might have been even more behind. I wasn’t the only one from that CC community that left. That CC community now is half the size. I believe the families that remain are mostly anti-science. I do have a question though for those who have left CC. What do you say to friends who are still in the community? Do you still keep in touch with them? A lot of them still believe that CC is the best and only way to homeschool despite the obvious problems.
Jamie H says
It’s so important to find a place where your kids can thrive. I’m glad to hear that yours are!
I’m not sure what others do, but I’ve tried to let the members of our former communities know that our choice had nothing to do with them, and was entirely about the corporation and curriculum. I’ll tell them that we loved our community, and we’d love to stay in community with them. I also let them know that if they’d ever like to sit down with me and talk through the issues I found, I’m happy to do so. Sadly, now that we don’t participate in community days, we don’t really feel included with the members of the community that we thought were our friends.
Rachel Glenn says
To know God and to make Him known!! Of course I was sold. Right?! I thought I finally found what I was looking for. Christ centered/based program OH I AM IN FOR SURE!!
We finished our first year of CC CYCLE 1 this year and I, along with the kiddos, learned so much geography and science in such a fun way. Bonus, in a classroom at a church.
However, I am contemplating on doing one more year (we are also a part of a charter school in which we do separate curriculum). I adore the group of homeschooling moms/tutors but GOD IS NOT THE CENTER.
I attended the Practicum yesterday and I just didn’t get it. The motto of TO KNOW GOD AND MAKE HIM KNOWN is a joke. I am not here to bash CC but don’t use GOD to suck in Christian homeschoolers.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR INSIGHT!!
Jamie H says
I agree completely, Rachel. I really feel like they missed the boat on this one, because we really wanted there to be a lot more godly education in the program, but it’s just not there.
SO VERY THANKFUL you took the time to write down your experience with CC ! I am a homeschooling gramma and loving it !!!! We are currently using BJU Press Grade 1 and loving it . I have heard so many great things about CC . I am going to attend an info meeting next week . Currently we start every morning with a Bible lesson , Scripture memory and a hymn !!! So precious to start the day focused on Scripture and worship !!! Sounds like if we choose CC that will not be the focus .I will still attend the info meeting in order to meet other homeschooling families in our area but so far all my research into CC leads me right back where we are at … a truly Christ centered curriculum … BJU Press.
Jamie H says
What a blessing it is to have a Christ centered curriculum! I hope you’re able to find the community you’re longing for, without feeling like you need to pay a lot of money for it!
We’re enrolling our soon to be 2nd grader in Foundation this coming school year. I understand your personal issues with CC but our reason is to get her used to public speaking, she’s an only child so we want her to experience doing academics with other kids, and “extra arm” on elective subjects. Is CC worth it for those reasons?
Also, I personally want to do the heavy lifting on math and language arts. I have solid curriculum on these two subjects and want them to be mainly under my control. Will I have enough leg room to do our own? I’m afraid CC will suck all our time and leave us with very little room to do our own Math and LA curriculum.
Jamie H says
I did appreciate the skills my kids learned by having to do public speaking each week, so I understand. The truth is that you can defintely choose to do as little or as much as you’d like to do at home as far as CC is concerned. If you’re happy with the curriculum you’re using, you could definitely just use CC for the community days, without implementing it at home. In my opinion, you’d be better off joining a co-op, or starting a group where the kids could do presentations, instead of joining CC, because it would probably give you more of what you’re looking for at a fraction of the cost (or even free!).
I just this week took my little to an open house with CC. I haven’t researched any other homeschool curriculum but this one appealed to me being a Christian mom. We haven’t enrolled yet and I was looking over the application just a few minutes ago and decided to just do a quick search on the internet. Now I’m just sad/conflicted. It’s a very large homeschool group in my area. May I ask what you’re using now for your kiddos?
Thanks in advance for sharing this article/blog.
Jamie H says
It was so disappointing for me, too, Heather. I really wanted to love it, and I did enjoy our community, but it came down to me not being able to support a corporation with shady business practices, and a subpar curriculum.
My sister is using– and loving– Sonlight. It’s a great option for open and go curriculum, though it is on the expensive side.
I’m using a mixture of curriculum, as I’ve found what works best for my kids. We use Math U See for math, and Fix It Grammar and IEW theme based writing for language arts (my youngest used First Language Lessons instead of Fix It Grammar and IEW). Each child is in their own levels for those.
For science, we do Berean Builders with all three kids together. History we also do together. We have used Story of the World for history, and this year we’re using America’s Story. History is my kids’ favorite subject, so we do a lot of it, and we use it to dig into geography as well. We also use history to inspire art projects, cooking experiences, and more.
I feel like I might be forgetting a subject, but I hope that helps!
Since we had desired community, we also went ahead and created our own. We’ve found about 4 other families that have similar aged kids, with similar interests and values, and we get the kids together for fun experiences. Things like Valentine’s parties, game nights, field trips, and book clubs. It’s been so much more fun, and it’s free!
Mark Hume says
The point of home schooling is for PARENTS to teach their kids. Not some agenda driven education system. It seems like public school is what you are looking for and other people to take an interest in your kids and their development. More or less, a babysitter that will teach your kids what you think they need to learn, then complain when it isnt what you expected.
Just my observations from your very long winded complaining session.
Jamie H says
I’m not sure where you got that, but thanks for sharing your opinion! It does help if you can actually attack the argument instead of the person, though. I believe I gave a very calm, thought out opinion, without any name calling, so I’d appreciate the same from you. 🙂
MARK- The point of homeschool, for me, is to not put my kids in public school. Yet, I can not afford private school. Not all parents are teachers and not all parents have the knowledge or emotional energy to do it All. It takes a village. Do you homeschool Mark or does your wife do everything?
As I bang my head again over an assignment to write a four paragraph paper with my fourth grader who is currently enrolled in Essentials and Foundations, I am asking myself so many questions. Is it typically age-appropriate to require writing like this for 4th and 5th graders? No, not really. Is it possible? Yes. I am sure this type of workload is appropriate for some children. Is my child thriving? Hmmm. Not sure. I am her teacher. I can determine whether we do the complete or partial assignment or none of it, but my daughter feels quite a bit of pressure to turn an assignment in because all her friends are. How many other kids in our program cry and are overwhelmed weekly? Is this character-building? Am I instilling hard work and grit in my child or are we just missing the point of home education: lead my child to the next step (not leap ten steps ahead and expect them to peacefully be ok with that).
Reading your article does indeed make me uncomfortable with CC’s corporate practices. Our community is comprised of a large percentage of families from our church. My daughter loves the community. But am I just paying a lot of money for friends?
I have enjoyed the accountability and continuity of being on the same page as our co-op. The other mamas are fantastic humans. Our CC director leads with grace and efficiency.
I have already committed to and signed up for another year with the proviso that all deposits are non-refundable. My oldest wants to return because she doesn’t want to make yet another change. I get that. Me too. I like knowing what’s going on and getting a handle on things. The CC memory work has become our Morning Basket so to say and helped our daily rhythm be more sane than past years. I am 5 years into this home education gig. The first four were with a virtual school (provided curriculum and I taught) and this past year was with CC.
Looking ahead at Challenge, I love the idea of rigorous work and incorporating Classical traditions, but I am not a fan of thinking about my student staying up to all hours of the night and stressing over assignments. I did that in highschool. That wreaked havoc on my joy and health.
You have given me much to consider. Thank you.
Best advice? Walk away and do not look back. Once your child enters Challenge, it is a cold bucket of water to the face. You are made to feel as though you should not sit in with your student and the work load is a recipe for complete burnout. Yes, my student was more than capable in class, however , guess what? I am still the official teacher of record. Not the director. CC plays games with titles and dodges responsibilities in numerous areas. Yes, they use churches to avoid taxes. Yes, they set their own prices for Challenge students as far as supplies and you must pay it. Our director charged $75 in Challenge A for something that cost less than $10 to print and with a class at the maximum amount, he made quite a profit. It continues on and you, as the parent, are slowly made to feel like you need to step aside because the student should be responsible. While I am not arguing that either way, YOU are still the parent and the one who has to ensure that YOUR student comprehends and is knowledgeable of what has been taught on one day for 45 minutes. It’s both too much and not enough.
Again, walk away while you can. Good luck.
This post was very helpful. Having worked in a for-profit education sector for years, I can say that although that typically leads to more resources available, it truly does mean the bottom line is the main focus. That alone is enough for me to stay away. I do think the songs are helpful and found many on youtube. We plan to incorporate those into our current curriculum. Also, I wondered if we purchased the foundations book (the $100 one), if we could use it as our curriculum from home, without joining CC? I didn’t want to do it because of the co-op day for many reasons, but the curriculum itself seemed like a good approach. Please let me know! 🙂
Jamie H says
I love hearing your viewpoint! The Foundations book is available for purchase and use for any families, whether they’re in CC or not. The Essentials and Challenge guides do require your child to be enrolled to purchase, However, if you’re looking for input, you might want to check out Claritas memory work from Cross Seven. I really appreciated the 4 year history cycle instead of 3 year, and I feel like more usable memory work is included over CC’s foundations guide.
Sherry Benallen says
My response to this post , respectfully, would be that in terms of persuading to the facts you present, you have no viable sources to back up your statements. Are we to take this on your authority? This argument does not stand as it ks written. As we learn in debate, what is the authority for the accusations of lack of integrity on the part is corporate? This may be true, but am I to take a bloggers word for it!? What is the source to know what you purport is, in fact, truth, rather than conjecture or sour grapes? If I need to make a decision for my family, I would say that this article is lacking in proof and full of anecdotes and opinions, not facts and valid sources. Can you point to sources so that we may fact check these claims at least?
Sherry Benallen says
Pardon my typos. Phone typing is never ideal.
Elizabeth Herman says
For me it replaced the bottom of the barrel education my kids were getting. I felt then as I feel now the English program was solid.we had to out sorce a spelling book but the dictionary I purchased purchased for $60 had all the words we needed. My kids had been in a private school and we paid the amount CC was asking each month. How ever when we pulled them out the school they called child protective services. The humiliation was excruciating and the trauma still lives with us. As we stuck it out we learned Latin. If a parent is interested in their kids education anyone can learn how to make soap as a science experiment or study the stars. I pushed my kids to over come dysgravia, dyslexia, and ADHD. We learned how to ignore the cobwebs and how to cook in a Crock-Pot for our dinners that were late many nights. No my kids sat me down and after almost 6 years revealed they no longer believed in God. I wanted them to be closer to him and wile their was a incident with another kid who became sexually explicit with my daughter, they realized the fallacies of human beings trying to create a community but abusing each other with the word when things didn’t go their way. We all need to remember children are fragile at the beginning,like new relationships in a church. I was attacked verbally by the leader of our group but I have thicker skin. I didn’t agree with her and in my opinion she was always attacking someone . But that didn’t get in my way. The real learning happened at home. Where we felt safe. We tried things beyond CC. Finding what you enjoy in life is what learning is for. It’s sad that people didn’t ask for sells tax and some director’s got in trouble with the IRS. The Mom that helped me navigate the beginning of our homeschooling experience, when all my family and friends told us not to do it, I can never pay her for her kindness how she rebuilt my confidence that was god’s blessing, and Grace, true Grace. Our country needs Grace and selfless kindness. Joy needs to rejoin our lives. I won’t let the thing’s that didn’t go well rob me of the things that did go well. If criminal behavior by a company happened. Remember your scripture handling it swiftly call them out. All those people who tried to get me not to home school they are homeschooling now . Take pride in your accomplishments you don’t have to be an entrepreneur, and I guess you don’t have to be a Christian , but you should at least be a human being . Teach your children how to be a human being. kindness never hurt anybody and it’s not a weakness in fact I think it’s a badge of honor and we could do with a lot more honorable people out there.
Jamie H says
It sounds like you really went through a rough time! I’m glad that you had that other mom that helped you navigate the waters of homeschooling. What a blessing that is!
Unfortunately, many people have reached out to CC, asking them to change policies so that they’re in line with the law. Not only have they not changed, they went so far as to threaten to sue several of the homeschooling moms who reached out to them. I wish they would just do the right thing and choose to operate their business ethically, but it’s been many years of people begging them to do that, so it doesn’t seem likely. 🙁
Jamie H says
Sherry, I wouldn’t want you to take me at my word, but are you simply taking CC at their word? Either way, all homeschool parents ought to be doing their own research into this. I DID link to the errata for both Foundations guide and the cartography book, so you’re welcome to check out the fact that they do in fact have a lot of mistakes in their products.
I DID link to both a CPA’s opinion about the tax issues, as well as several articles from law firms about the legality of using volunteers in a for-profit business.
I tried to keep this article as succinct as possible, and even then it turned out much longer than I wanted it to be. There are so many other things I could have delved into, and perhaps I will, but they’ll require articles of their own. Thank you for disagreeing respectfully, I really appreciate it, and I hope you have a lovely week!
Charlotte McKinley says
I do not believe that the churches could lose their NPO status as the directors are not financially benefitting from the CC meetings. They’re providing space free of charge, with no expectation of receiving monetary or other benefit, to a community organization (even if the licensing fees paid by participants benefit a for-profit entity). Many, many homeschool co-ops and commonwealths are formed using for-profit assistance for creation and licensing (New Commonwealth Schools, etc) and they also meet in churches. See: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/How%20to%20Lose%20Your%20Tax%20Exempt%20Status.pdf
I appreciate this post and your honesty, I enjoyed reading your perspective. I just wanted to provide the above information as it would be a shame if churches and other community organizations with NPO status shied away from assisting homeschooling co-ops for fear of losing their status as that’s not really a concern unless they’re benefitting in some way (which they don’t with CC or other co-ops/commonwealths, that’s why they don’t offer to compensate churches for the space… they can’t).
Regan Appleby says
Actually you are very wrong. The original poster is correct. My father is a pastor and yes, you can complete lose your tax exempt as well as be personally sued should a child be on property and be hurt while having a profit class going on. The directors are paid a salary and percentage from the tuition which means they are financially benefiting. I’ve actually tutored myself with CC so know the contracts personally.
soooooooooo well said. CC is full of false advertisements. Christian, Classical, Community. Two of which are big lies. Not Christian; there is no hymns of scripture memory. Not Classical,, more like neo-classical. Weak memory pegs that are totally unconnected to anything real for the kids. Subjects are not even integrated most of the time. Community,, only if you’re willing to pay a tremendous amount of money!!! Yep, leaving CC was the best thing we also did as a family!! So much better now, I feel so bad for all of those still stuck in CC : (
Jamie H says
I agree! The freedom we’ve felt since we left has been such a breath of fresh air in our homeschool. I loved the people in our communities, but I don’t regret leaving a single bit.
We are at a small private school, which is decent.
My daughter is struggling with learning to read, but scores at the top of her class in reading comprehension and word recognition?!?!
We have a lot of past family trauma which could be affecting her learning. So I thought, “let’s homeschool “ but the idea of putting together a curriculum and being fully responsible for their education scares me.
I have heard nothing but great things about CC, and I love the classical approach and higher expectations. I feel Americans and expected to learn less than Europeans anyways.
Also, CC does not seem expensive at all, not am I concerned about volunteering as we do that at all private school and we are required to fund raise.
I am disappointed to read this review because i was looking forward to my children actually learning.
Could your experience be based on your location?
Jamie H says
I don’t believe that my experience is location based, because CC is very much about having the same thing at every community, so they have a lot of oversight. I suppose that my feelings of it being too high-priced might be location based, since there are a lot of co-ops that are free in my area.
I have actually fallen in love with Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy since leaving CC. In truth, it was what came naturally to me, but I felt like it wasn’t enough, which is why we ended up joining CC in the first place. I just didn’t know that it had a name, and was actually a real educational philosophy. Basically, it’s lots of reading, orally narrating what was read, and spending a lot of time outdoors studying nature. For the early years I think it’s ideal. As kids get older, the narrations change to written narrations. I’m not sure if that’s something you’d be interested in, but I just wanted to share that with you. I hope you are able to find something that works well for your daughter!
Your article does a great job summarizing several things to consider with CC.
If you work for CC
–in writing, you sign something saying you’re not actually working for them – you’re working for the local director/SR, who is “independent of CC”, although this is blatantly false in actual practice – it just removes all liability from CC–,
there are other tremendous eye-openers that will make you question the ethics of CC. I worked for CC for several years, and wrestled more each year as they seemed to become more money-focused (behind the scenes and in training) and less people-focused. They seem progressively less transparent or honest. Talking to people ‘up the chain of command’ was not productive, answers were not given, just excuses or blank responses.
Another thing about CC – they often just copy other curricula (with permission – you’ll see the other curricula listed in a tiny section of their materials). “Everything You Need To Know About…” series – You’ll be amazed if you see the majority of Foundation’s material sentences from those books. Except – the books give in-depth information – visuals, explanations for how/why/when, etc. Shurley English is credited for the Essentials program’s grammar, and IEW runs the writing portion 100% – CC doesn’t contribute much themselves, it seems, except the idea to run it as a community (which we like). Regarding Shurley, though, it is easier to understand and has a much better flow than how CC decided to “organize” it. CC turned it much more complicated to read/understand/practice than Shurley.
Most recently, at the Challenge levels, CC is replacing decent books with new books that CC has written – that are truly unimpressive. CC bookstore makes even more money with this change – you can’t purchase the books at a different christian supplier – you have to support CC alone. Example – They stripped away the subject “Current Events” (most people’s favorite subject, according to online forums) and replaced it with a simple reader about ‘American Heroes’ that feels as if it’s at the 4th grade reading level (includes people like George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison). 14 year olds are now going back to reading about basic people we learned about in grade school, at the expense of ‘Current Events’ discussions. After reading the stories each week, the students are to answer the question “Was ______ a hero?”.
I’ll stop. I could write a book on the ways I feel CC has been deceptive and profit-focused at the expense of the people, but it won’t stop those who desperately need community and have little options.
Jamie H says
Thanks so much for sharing about your experiences with CC, Marie. I have seen all these same things, and it really saddens me. I truly feel that CC was originally created to help homeschooling moms, but it has evolved into something full of greed. I know for myself, the amount of freedom we’ve felt since leaving CC has been amazing. I have absolutely no regrets.