Just Taking Up Space

This is a post copied and pasted (with author’s permission) from the Let Us Reason – For Real facebook group. It was posted on August 19, 2020 and I am publishing it here so that this review can receive a wider audience.

Friends… the philosophy of the company is getting worse. It is disturbing to me that the attitude is to prey upon new Covid-19 homeschoolers who are justifiably freaking out right now about how to homeschool.

The author is Amanda Wright and she wrote: “YES – by all means, you have my permission to share my testimony of CC far and wide. You are welcome to use my name, share my email (amanda.s.wright@gmail.com) if people have more specific questions. While I wish I had been more wise early on, I am not too proud to humble myself and share my story – which honestly feels embarrassing at this point – and help people avoid the same mistakes. If my story can help anyone not feel stuck, or better yet to avoid the scam, the spiritual manipulation… it will have been worth it.”

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Hello all! I’m a fairly new member to this group – I joined out of sheer desperation, as I felt I might be the only one out there who was dissatisfied at both a local and corporate level with CC. What a relief it was to know that I am not the only one who sees that, as the saying goes, the emperor has no clothes. Reading through story after story on here was so refreshing – a guzzle of water after a drought – and I, in turn, wanted to take a minute and share my story in the hopes that anyone stopping by or (like me until recently) lurking to see if they are alone, will understand that they are unequivocally *not* alone. This will be a long post…

I joined CC for one year as a mom of four littles in GA several years ago, and found the program exciting and *reassuring* – I mean, that is the heart of CC’s practicum messaging (marketing), right?? You know and feel led to homeschool, but you want to ensure your kids are fully equipped. To top it all off, the demonstrations they have the kids of all ages put on in terms of memory work or discussions – wow! Who, as a young mom, doesn’t long for the show-off piece of impressive memory work to put to bed any doubts friends and family have related to your choice to homeschool… who, as a young mom, doesn’t hope their teens will have years of socratic discussions… who, as a young, Christian mom, doesn’t hope their children will grow to know God and make Him known?

Thousands of dollars in applications, tuitions, and all the curriculum pieces I could get my hands on, this first year was a total dud outside of my kids memorizing the timeline. But the impressive aspect of it falls short the first time anyone asks the kids what any of it means and they just stare blankly. The only positive that came out of it were a few friendships. When I inquired to moms in the CC group as to the program and my experience, I was told that many first year moms feel that way and just “trust the system.”

Fast forward a few years – we had moved across the country, tried a small Christian school and had kids who longed for the flexibility to pursue their interests and be at their own speed for learning. I brought all my kids back home for educating three years ago, and immediately plugged into a local CC community. We met some nice families, made some friends.

However, I was older, hopefully wiser, and less unsure of myself as a homeschooler. I had homeschooled for two years without CC and my kids had gone into the private school far ahead of their peers in every regard and I knew that I was capable of educating my own children.

Immediately, year one of the new community in WA – alarm bells rang. The chaotic nature of the community day. The lack of any control in the classes in Foundations (and this was across four different F classes, and four different F tutors – only *one* tutor kept her classroom in line, by which I mean kids not crawling on the floors, throwing chairs, crying for snacks, talking back, etc.) coupled with how little anyone cared that this behavior was taking place was a bit alarming. But the kids did manage to make some friends, so we stuck it out.

The second year, in addition to the alarm bells ringing, red flags shot up – I realized (and perhaps this is my own sheer stupidity, or simply wanting to believe the marketing) with a BANG that my kids were gleaning *nothing* on community day. Let me repeat that – NOTHING. They had some fun, but never knew what they had learned or had anything to say other than what so-and-so said to the tutor, or how this other child had sat in the corner and refused to even acknowledge their tutor.

Every single thing they were learning and memorizing and understanding was happening at home – with me, their teacher (as CC is very pointed in delineating). Further, it became excessively obvious that big gaps were forming in their knowledge as I had bought fully into the “stick in the sand” and “just trust the process” mantras. We read books related to memory work, did art projects related to memory work, watched documentaries related to memory work… I am here to tell you it is not enough. Again – it is NOT enough.

Believe what you will about standardized testing (and I do not think, by any means, that it is exhaustive in measuring kids’ knowledge), but from the last year in private school to the end of year one in CC, my kids dropped from being ahead to on-par or lower than grade average. At the end of year two – lower than grade average in every subject.

Our third year of CC, we had established friends, and the kids enjoyed before-class play time, lunch and recess, and after Essentials/Challenge play time. That’s it. They dreaded sitting in class for three+ hours, memorizing things out of context, and dealing with rowdy kids that the tutors are completely unequipped to handle or manage. We still did the memory work throughout the week, but added in robust pieces of various curriculum alongside it and continued our read-alouds and family discussions, field trips, traveling, and documentaries. Their standardized test scores shot up tremendously to mostly far above grade level. Again, I realize standardized tests may be a sore spot for many homeschoolers, but I’m simply sharing my experience. To me it was but one of a series of markers that affirmed what I was seeing first-hand.

We were already on the fence about re-joining following my oldest’s ChA experience this most recent school year.

Please understand that *everything* they tell you about trusting the system and waiting to reap those rewards of Challenge years was completely hollow for us.

My oldest’s class had kids who largely came unprepared or were uninterested in speaking up – zero “conversations” had. However, it is wildly hard to pull yourself out of a community where friends are… where your kids look forward to playing. It is just so difficult.

Ultimately, when our F/E and Ch directors let us know what they would be offering for fall (video + zoom for F/E, and meeting in-person for Ch despite clear, state-wide guidance that this was not recommended), we let them know that they could consider our application money a donation, but we would not be joining this year. The ChB director (who functions as SR in our area as well) clapped back that there would be no refunds as it states so on the application form itself, and further, we would owe her additional money because Ch directors must pay, out of the tuition they receive, even more funds to corporate.

After going back and forth about this with her, she told us she believed we were trying to keep and use copyrighted materials because she had already given us the ChB guide. Sigh. We happily sent the guide back to her and will never send another dime her way.

However, it did cause me to reach out to the AR for this region to follow up and ask some pointed questions. My questions ranged from the actual, corporate-level definition of what a director and tutor role is to be, what qualifications someone needs to function as an SR, and whether the application issue was true. My family is blessed that eating the application fees was not a big deal – but many families are not in the same boat. It became a matter of principle for us to get to the bottom of this.

Among many telling statements and clarifications, the AR made it explicitly clear that

  • Directors’ and tutors’ main function is to SEEE the parents (an acronym that stands for Support, Encourage, Equip, Empower), and help them to be classical teachers for their kids.
  • The tutors have almost no training (a couple of half-days, slightly more for Ch level), are often first-year homeschool moms themselves (how exactly will they be helping when they have no experience or knowledge themselves??), and
  • Tutors are completely unequipped to even handle classroom disruptions – and in fact, are encouraged not to get the parents of the child if they are a tutor, because that discourages parents!

How on earth are these same tutors/directors supposed to equip anyone? This is the blind leading the blind.

Another note was that I was told CC does not dispose of any tutors or directors – she clarified that they do not fire anyone, things are simply “worked through.” So if you find that there is a person who should absolutely not be in any type of authority position and take the issue to them and up the chain, guess what… literally nothing will change. Do you know why? Because it’s all an elaborate MLM.

Please understand that if you are looking at CC as a possibility – their curriculum appears to be largely repackaged materials from Memoria Press, Scholastic, Shurley Grammar, and more; that the leadership (directors, tutors) are mostly women with the best of intentions and hearts to help… but they are ill-equipped to do so, often inexperienced themselves.

A director needs nothing more than a checkbook to pay CC, a Christian worldview, and one year of homeschooling under their belt. A tutor (again, who is supposedly going to SEEE all the parents in their class) can be brand new to homeschooling, the classical model, and CC – all of the above. An SR – again, the support rep for several communities – needs nothing more than one year of homeschooling and a Biblical worldview, and a willingness to work in a commissioned structure. (MLM red flags!!!)

Further, the AR read to me verbatim from an email that had been sent from further up the chain regarding application refunds – CC is making no exceptions for anyone in any states, regardless of what state or local mandates might say/require. Specifically, they feel that with so many new homeschoolers in need of their services, those existing families who back out for any reason related to COVID rules are just taking up space for the new families who are suddenly thrust into homeschooling.

When I shared my shock and disappointment at this news (many homeschool families would feel a big impact in just flushing away one, two, or three kiddos application fees) – I was told I don’t understand the heart and mission of CC. I was told Leigh Bortins’ largest desire is to have a ministry to “see souls saved” because of CC.

This is a travesty – they are using faith as a manipulation tactic, and using “service” as a guise for business practices that appear predatory.

If you made it to the end of this looooong post, thank you for reading. People are welcome to leave comments with questions or to ask for more details.

Please know that you do NOT need CC, or any particular curriculum or philosophy, to educate your children effectively and holistically in your own home. You can and will find and make friends outside of any co-op or community, so do not make the same mistake I did of feeling stuck. Do not allow yourself to feel alone because you see that the emperor is naked and everyone around you is ooh’ing and aah’ing over his “new clothes.” You are right, and maybe – just maybe – if enough of us actually stand up and speak out, we will encourage others to do the same.

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