The ‘Cost’ of Classical Conversations

The Cost Of Classical ConversationsMy family participates in a classical group learning environment for homeschoolers called Classical Conversations. There are campuses all over the world, and there’s probably one in your backyard if you live in the USA. If you would like to learn more, visit ClassicalConversations.com. To find out why I love the CC Challenge Program for middle and high schoolers, read my post about it by clicking here.


The Classical Conversations discussion threads are often abuzz about the affordability of the program. Our first year with CC, we were definitely a bit sticker shocked, especially since it was summertime when we decided we wanted to give the program a try, and we were headed into Challenge A.

Even with only one child, it was a financial stretch for us at that time, especially when you factor in books and supplies.

This year, I tutored Challenge B, which more than covered my daughters tuition, but I didn’t tutor for the money. I truly felt that I could do a great job tutoring, and I think that should be The Number One Reason people choose to tutor, whether it be Foundations, Essentials, or Challenge.

If you are having trouble paying for Classical Conversations, here are a few considerations for you:

1. You could consider tutoring. Each program has different payments for tutors and directors. Tutoring also has tax implications you should be aware of before you agree to take on the task. So, if this is something you’ve considered, talk to your director. Ask them about the time commitment, preparation commitment, and responsibilities that you might not be aware your tutors do! There is also mandatory training, and, if you take on a Challenge class, a few extra responsibilities, such as running information meetings, that you should be aware of before you make your decision. Tutors in all levels need to own curriculum and purchase a number of supplies that are outside of the supply fee. These purchases are usually tax deductible, but it’s important to be aware that unexpected expenses may pop up.

2. Consider waiting for one more year to begin CC, and budgeting for that amount until that time. Usually, communities begin taking registrations in February, and in some areas of the country, communities fill very quickly. So plan to pay your fees next February. Divide your total owing by the number of months you have remaining until that time, and tuck it away each month.

3. If neither of these things are options for you, some communities offer fundraising. But I would offer up something else to consider. Perhaps CC isn’t right for your family at this time. Classical Conversations has fees that come along with it. It’s a business. It’s a company. It isn’t a co-op, or a homeschool get-together. It’s not run by parents or volunteers. It’s run by employees, and contracted directors and tutors. And that means, it costs money. Many people homeschool for free, or for less than CC costs. Many people spend more! If CC is right for your family, than the money will be provided, or you will make it a priority to save for it. If you don’t have the means to do this, than perhaps God is telling you this is not where he wants your family at this time.

1 Corintians 16:2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.

Luke 14:28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?

God has stuff to say about money. Know that CC is a great way to teach your kids. But it isn’t the only way. It’s not the ONLY good thing. It’s not for every family. And if you’ve considered every option, and really can’t afford it, consider that maybe, God doesn’t want you in a community at this time.


Here’s how the fees break down per week, if you put *all the costs in a pot.

Foundations:
Tuition             $335
Registration      $85
Supply Fee       $50
Total                $470

Divide this by 24 weeks, and you pay $19.58 per week
Divide this by 3 hours, and you pay $6.53 per hour
Divide $470 by 12 months, and you need to sock away $40 per month to pay for the program.

Essentials:
Tuition             $335
Registration      $85
Supply Fee       $20
Total                $440

Divide this by 24 weeks, and you pay $18.33 per week
Divide this by 2 hours, and you pay $9.17 per hour
Divide $440 by 12 months, and you need to sock away $37 per month to pay for the program.

Challenge
Tuition             $1275
Registration       $125
Supply Fee         $50
Total                $1450

Divide this by 30 weeks, and you pay $48.33 per week
Divide $48.33 by 6 hours, and you pay $8.06 per hour
Divide $1450 by 12 months, and you need to sock away $121 per month to pay for the program. The Challenge tuition portion is payable in 2 installments, which is helpful for this larger amount.

These fees don’t include curriculum or books, which, depending on the level of your kids, can be almost nothing, or very expensive! Investigate! Do the math! Decide if this is the right step for your family. Whether it’s ‘worth it or not’ isn’t the question. For some families, it is, and for others, it isn’t.

As I said earlier, even with only one child, it can be a financial stretch for us. But we’ve decided we feel led to participate in this program, and are going to make the effort to plan for this expense. This year, I tutored, so I will have the money for next year, whether I continue to tutor or not. We will continue to look ahead to the coming year, and budget for CC, or whatever educational path we place ourselves on. We know that if we feel led to CC, we can’t always rely on a miracle to cover the costs. We will intentionally plan for these fees so that we are honoring our personal finances, the directors who deserve to be paid on time, and God, who ultimately directs our bank balances.

It simply comes down to this: Is Classical Conversations worth the money to you? If it is, plan. If it’s not, that’s perfectly fine! There are many great options, and you’ll find the one that’s right for your children.

All my good vibes, prayer and love go to you, as you make this decision for your kids!


* All the costs does not include facility fee, which varies from community to community, and also, varies depending on how many children you have, as they are typically a ‘per family’ fee.

17 comments on The ‘Cost’ of Classical Conversations

  1. Linda
    February 22, 2017 at 11:05 am (4 months ago)

    I know this is super old! I am trying to figure out what kind of business CC is. Legally, its structure. I have some concerns about some of the application questions and whether or not CC is legally allowed to ask them.

    Reply
  2. Raven Marshall
    October 6, 2016 at 2:20 pm (9 months ago)

    How do you start a classical conversations campus?

    Reply
    • Afraid of Being Sued by CC
      October 6, 2016 at 4:14 pm (9 months ago)

      It might not be the answer you’re looking for but definitely your first step should be to research your liability if you want to be a Foundations director. I don’t mean just insurance and such but also your tax liability since you’ll be required to hire workers for your “independent business”. It’s not like any other multi-level marketing (MLM) company in this way, because other MLMs don’t require their independent business owners to become employers or subcontractors. Also, see if they’ll give you concrete answers on how to start your business before you sign a contract. I’m pretty sure their official line is to tell you to consult a tax lawyer (which you should), but I’m saying see if they’ll answer any specific questions about what you even need to do before you have to sign a contract. The contracts have some seriously binding non-disclosure/confidentiality clauses. You may even want to ask how the company handles it when regular homeschooling moms like me try to let people know to be wary about business issues, because with me they had their corporate lawfirm send me a cease and desist letter threatening to sue me for interference with business, among other things. I’m no lawyer, and I’m not telling you not to start a CC community, but I’m giving you mom-to-mom advice to be sure and ask some firm questions and get some firm answers before anything else. CC is a corporation with corporate interests and goals.

      Reply
  3. Jane D.
    January 30, 2016 at 4:29 pm (1 year ago)

    I have been a Classical Conversations tutor, Foundations & Essentials Director, and am presently a Challenge Director. Unfortunately, I feel like I’m in prison counting down the days until release. I love my students and families, but am disillusioned with CC’s business model. They call everyone “independent contractors” but the list of rules we must follow, meetings and training is growing and is focused on serving CC and worshiping Leigh Bortin’s and her ideas rather than thinking for ourselves and serving our local families. The attitude where I’m at is, “Do it our way or get out1” I thought is was just the new managers that were put in place in our area, but I see that it is happening everywhere.

    One really big change is the push to grow that has resulted in unqualified people tutoring, directing & managing. Let’s face it, some people have the gift to tutor and direct and some don’t. My son is prisoner in a Foundations classroom where not even the history songs are used because the tutor can’t carry a tune and does not want to use technology, which is forbidden by the “laws” of Classical Conversations, to play them. Get real!!!

    The other big change in my area is requiring communities to start in August so that they are done by Thanksgiving. This means that Challenge classes which meet for 15 weeks each semester will be starting the beginning of August against the wishes of most of the parents. I’m sure they could fight it, I have in the past reminding them that I’m an independent contractor, but so far no one except the parents have spoken up.

    From IRS website: You are not an independent contractor if you perform services that can be controlled by an employer (what will be done and how it will be done). This applies even if you are given freedom of action. What matters is that the employer has the legal right to control the details of how the services are performed.

    Classical Conversations started in our community to provide community & accountability. I wanted it and was excited to be a part of it, but I now find myself in bondage just like the Israelites who asked God for a king.

    If you want to provide a Classical, Christian education for your children keep your independence and start a co-op and check out veritespress.com, wilsonhillacademy.com, classicaladademicpress.com, and memoriapress.com for online classes. That’s what I’m going to do.

    Reply
    • Laura
      February 1, 2016 at 3:17 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi Jane,
      We have been thrilled by memory work developed by Claritas Classical Academy. The online version can be viewed her: https://crossseven.org We enjoy using this in our co-op and the freedom we have in presenting it in the way we see best.

      Reply
      • Kim
        March 27, 2016 at 10:08 am (1 year ago)

        I am curious how you use this in a co op – the cross seven.. Just signed up for a month and my boys love it… Its says there are more materials but i cant find anything

        Reply
    • April Palmer
      February 1, 2016 at 3:28 pm (1 year ago)

      Jane, I’m so sorry you’ve had this experience. Mine was similarly awful. Nearly our whole campus (25 families) ended up leaving CC last year. You are not alone. There is a public Facebook group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/643440409089565/ – that discusses CC’s abusive business practices. Some of us have sought legal advice about how we can help stop what is happening, but really the control issues with CC cannot be brought to true light if we don’t band together and talk about it. Unfortunately, too many women are willing to suffer and keep quiet or quietly leave because of the pressure from the power structure put in place by the Bortinses.

      Reply
  4. Colleen Truax
    April 19, 2015 at 4:08 pm (2 years ago)

    Hello! I appreciate your honest look at considering CC and whether it is right for your family. I would also add, having been a F/E Director, that if you plan to sign a contract with Classical Conversations, and if your contract states that you are an independent contractor, you should look into your rights as an independent contractor and be sure that Classical Conversations is respecting your rights. Those who are employed with CC at the leadership level are benefitting from the labors of independent contractors at the tutor, Director, Support manger, Area manager, and Regional manager levels. By designating these workers as independent contractors, CC lays the tax burden and liability on the worker, rather than bearing it as a company; but CC corporate still controls how those workers do their jobs which is not allowed for independent contractors. I just encourage anyone who signs a contract with CC to have an attorney and CPA look at your contract and do not assume that CC has set it up appropriately. I resigned midyear because I suspect that they are committing tax fraud and even after trying to get answers from the leadership team (they wouldn’t speak to me), I received no satisfying answers – a manager even claimed that the CPA I referred them to consulted their COO and when I confirmed that with the CPA in question, she said she did not recall such a consultation. My Director Business Guide, to my surprise, stated that if an agency finds that I as a Director am misclassifying my tutors (see homeschoolcpa.com to know the penalties associated with this) that CC Inc. is not to be held responsible even though CC Inc. instructs the Directors to contract tutors and provides the contracts. So, ask a lot of questions and don’t assume that CC has your best in mind. I was told I could keep my money after resigning, but then weeks later, a manager called to tell me that I had to pay someone I didn’t even contract – she didn’t realize that the manager had put it in writing that I could keep the money – managers are told to not put these types of thing. CC may not be intending to be dishonest, but they certainly did not answer my questions directly or honestly.

    Reply
    • April Palmer
      June 20, 2015 at 7:15 pm (2 years ago)

      As a former CC tutor I have the same concerns as Colleen. She expressed the gravity of the situation well, especially in light of the recent ruling on Uber’s use of the independent contractor status. (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/uber-ruling-puts-spotlight-on-independent-contractors/) Though we did get some of the same runaround with corporate CC that Collen experienced, our campus rallied together and was given a meeting with the regional manager for Texas. In response to my concerns, the regional manager stated in a meeting open to our entire campus that CC’s legal team was working on updating the contracts to allow greater control of the workers while still classifying them as independent. This is dangerously close to tax fraud, I believe, but for the time being those who choose to work as an independent contractor with CC have to work entirely according to the will of the corporation. It is more important than ever to read your contract and understand what you are agreeing to before signing. It seems like their business structure cannot last as it currently exists. I think a crackdown is coming on corporations like CC and Uber, which are staffed almost entirely by independent contractors.

      Reply
    • Julia
      August 31, 2015 at 6:51 pm (2 years ago)

      I agree with the concerns about independent contractor status. This is an area of increasing concern throughout the homeschool community. In 2009, the first co-op I ever worked with transitioned its teachers from contractors to employees. I am sure that CC will be working with its legal team to stay within the letter of the law.

      Generally, the amount of control that CC exerted over me as a director would have certainly been more appropriate for an employee, but directors aren’t contractors for CC, they are independent business owners. I think the huge risk is for the Foundations Directors. They are all at risk if one of the tutors wishes to challenge this rule. Currently I am a Foundations tutor, and I am simply choosing to accept the terms with which I was presented.

      It will be interesting to see what the future holds on this issue.

      Reply
      • Lindsay
        April 21, 2016 at 3:58 pm (1 year ago)

        I am considering tutoring. Should I be concerned with taxes or just directors and above?

        Reply
        • Colleen Truax
          April 21, 2016 at 5:23 pm (1 year ago)

          It depends on your conscience. There are many homeschool groups trying to abide by the laws, not sure why CC thinks they don’t need to. You can find an explanation at homeschoolcpa.com. If you are a Christian, should you be participating in a lie? Ask your Director to look at the document “Points for Tutors as Independent Contractors” and ask her if she is going to follow that sheet. If that doesn’t seem to be the reality, should you be participating in it? The pastor in our area doesn’t seem to mind duplicitous behavior . . . perhaps you don’t either. So, I am not sure if it would concern you, but it concerned me and I resigned. https://www.facebook.com/groups/643440409089565/

          Reply
          • hswife
            February 18, 2017 at 9:27 am (4 months ago)

            Hi Colleen, wondering why the FB group has been removed. We have a friend who is actively recruiting us to CC.

            Reply
            • Sue
              February 18, 2017 at 10:57 am (4 months ago)

              Hswife,
              I was part of Colleen’s FB group. She shut it down after CC, the corporation, threatened to sue her over things she discussed in there. Another woman in the group was also threatened by the corporation. I am familiar with both of their stories if you’d like more details. You can email me at susan82smith@gmail.com.

              Reply
  5. Rachel T.
    February 11, 2015 at 7:13 am (2 years ago)

    Hello! I appreciate the information you are sharing in this article to help families see their financial options in regards to CC, as I am a F/E Director. However, I just wanted to let you know that you need to edit your Essentials supply fee for this to be accurate. I hope this is helpful to you, so that you can share the correct information with your readers! God’s blessings!

    Reply
    • amygarwood
      February 11, 2015 at 7:20 am (2 years ago)

      Hi Rachel! Thank you for bringing that to my attention! I was so positive the fees for Essentials were the same as Foundations. I’ll fix that up :)

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *






Comment *