I guess I never came back here to post that we started our own classical community, Bridges. It’s been so freeing. I posted 5 Steps to Starting a Classical Community a while back, too.
Despite promises to create a working situation for Director, who was grossly, mistreated, our Regional Manager did not come through for us. Our family is no longer going to provide support to CC through the enrollment of our children as long as our Support Manager and Area Manager remain in their positions taking no responsibility for the destruction of our community. For those looking for a comparable education for your children, I recommend exploring the memory work bodies by Claritas Academy or Catholic Schoolhouse.
When we decided to homeschool 5 years ago, we knew we wanted our kids to continue the classical education they had started in private school. A quick internet search showed that Classical Conversations (CC) was one of the only organized, national, homeschool organizations promoting classical education at home. As a bonus, it was an all-in-one curriculum base AND community AND there was one starting 20 minutes from our home that fall. After attending an information meeting, I was “in.”
Our first year started a little rocky due to poor leadership, but we chalked it up to the fact that most of us were newbies to CC and we just needed to find our stride. We ended up switching to a new community our second year which ended up feeling like home.
The next three years were a HUGE blessing. Our kids made friends. I made friends. I told everyone we knew to join. Many did. I was able to be a substitute Foundations tutor and tutor two years of Essentials. The more I learned about the theory behind CC’s curriculum, the more excited I became about my kids’ education. I also felt empowered to stick with homeschooling all the way through because CC has laid out such a comprehensive plan. CC was also a great fit for our non-typical kiddos. We have one who is just globally delayed and three who came to us as adolescents who had minimal education and little English.
Then events this spring revealed what I consider weaknesses in the organizational structure of CC leadership. Unfortunately, these weaknesses hurt many families and caused extreme amounts of stress and unrest. While I still think CC is probably the best classical curriculum out there for homeschoolers, there are organizational philosophies with which I disagree. I wish I had known to be cautious about these things before I jumped in wholeheartedly and brought dozens of families with me.
In the name of community, we’re letting our Foundations/Essentials kids go back as participants next year. I am no longer a contracted tutor and stopped the process of becoming a Challenge Director. I am praying for organizational change over the next year so we feel comfortable jumping back in with two feet.
Below I’m going to enumerate the concerns that I have already expressed to our Regional Manager. If you agree with me, I urge you to contact your Regional Manager (listed at the end) and have your voice be heard. If you are considering CC for your family, I don’t want to discourage you, but I want you to go in with your eyes more open than ours were when we started our journey.
- Individuals put in leadership positions should be able to demonstrate previous CC and leadership experience OR the leadership training initiatives need to be more comprehensive and intense. All of the conflict we’ve encountered in CC thus far can come back to this principle. CC currently believes that anyone can be a Tutor, Director, or Manager. No experience in classical education, homeschooling, leadership necessary. They claim that their 3-day summer practicums are enough training plus a one-day business training for directors. While I appreciate their philosophy to empower parents and value simplicity (the famous “stick and sand” approach), they are not providing enough training to put such inexperienced individuals in leadership when families lives and children’s education is at stake. Additionally Directors and Managers should be able to show competency in managing and schooling their family well before ever being allowed to take time to step into a CC leadership role.
- CC needs to decide to be a ministry OR business and stick with it. They’re a ministry when, in the name of discipleship, they want to keep unqualified people in leadership who have made grievous errors, but a business when they want to make more money or lord control over what families do. They’re a ministry when they claim they want to foster relationship and community with their materials but a business when they insist every child has to be a paying participant in one of their programs. I’ve consistently watched them identify with ministry or business as it suits them and as it’s convenient for them. An organization really needs to put priority over one or the other because you cannot put the needs of people first and still make the maximum amount of profit.
- CC corporate needs to be accessible. It is almost impossible to find out who to talk to if you have a concern that your Director cannot address. You have to rely on that person pointing you upward. However, if you have a conflict with that person, you could have a really hard time getting her Manager’s name and contact information. Additionally, concerns funneled up the chain of command do not have the same gravity as when each family who has the same concern can have their voice heard. If corporate hears from one regional manager (who represents dozens of families) about a concern, it’s not always felt the same way as if all of those families were able to voice their concern individually.
- They need to rethink their contracts. Why anyone would consent to a contract where CC has the power to end it at any time without any notice without any reason, but the Director must give 6 weeks’ notice is beyond me. They should also give Directors the ability to adjust minor policies to fit the needs of her community. There are so many considerations to take into account when dealing with families and so many cultural aspects across our country that differ from region to region. CC should stop trying to control every blessed detail and minute of every community.
- Foster more community among Directors and Managers. Because everyone is paid on commission, I’ve seen too many decisions made on commission rather than on what’s best. I am part of a secular network marketing team where we all get paid on commission but you’d never know it. Everyone works together as a team and puts other people above themselves because that’s where the bar has been set by our leadership. In CC, where everyone is supposed to be “knowing God and making Him known,” I, instead, see women making decisions based on the bottom line.
If you agree with the above concerns, or have concerns of your own about how CC is structured or run, please make your voice heard so that together we can make CC a better place for our families.
|Southern Pacific||Amanda Kleist||AKleist@ClassicalConversations.com|
|Rocky Mountain||Heidi Truitt||HTruitt@ClassicalConversations.com|
|Great Lakes||Kirsten Ekberg||KEkberg@ClassicalConversations.com|
|Lake Eerie||Tiffany Redwine||TRedwine@ClassicalConversations.com|
|Eastern Mid-Atlantic||Cheryl Reynolds||CReynolds@ClassicalConversations.com|
|Mississippi Valley||Tanya Newman||TNewman@ClassicalConversations.com|