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Classical Conversations is the 'upstart Uber' of education, says Forbes mag

A Forbes magazine article in its April 25 issue favorably likens Classical Conversations, Inc., to Uber Technologies as an upstart “disruptor” in the education industry, just as Uber has been in urban transportation.

Amity Shlaes’ article titled, “Hail the (ED) work-around,” addresses the issues of school vouchers and public scholarships for private schools. She endorses both funding schemes as legitimate ways of breaking the funding stranglehold that public schools have on education dollars. While such plans have always died a slow death at the federal level, Shlaes believes that with long-time voucher supporter Betsy DeVos at the helm of the U.S. Department of Education, vouchers and scholarships are likely to get serious consideration.

Shlaes gives a nod to four private for-profit and not-for-profit corporations that she believes are positioned to make a significant impact on the American education system if given a chance. She leads off with CC, then mentions the BASIS schools project founded by Michael and Olga Block, the Luddy school system in North Carolina, and Great Hearts Academies in Arizona and Texas.

 “Dollars matter,” Shlaes writes about the twin obstacles to vouchers of funding and federal endorsement. “But it’s important not to forget what a difference having Betsy “Let the Money Follow the Child” DeVos at Education represents. Washington’s disapproval has always been the biggest obstacle to true education reform, even at the local level.”

Shlaes sees a solution to the funding problem in President Trump’s campaign promise to tax profits of U.S. companies sheltered overseas, or, as Richard Hough III, founder of the Children’s Scholarship Fund, proposes, the federal government could forgive any taxes on foreign sheltered profits if the corporation pledged to give 10 percent to a national scholarship program.

 “I appreciate Amity Shlaes’ article in Forbes magazine identifying Classical Conversations as an ‘academic Uber,’” said CC Founder Leigh Bortins, whom Shlaes interviewed for the article. “Like Uber, CC uses technology to reach those who want to be found but believe our company’s core value is person-to-person service.”

Classical Conversations has always been an outspoken supporter of school choice and believes that more options are always good for parents and their children. But CC is also a strong critic of public funding for private education. If the public is paying for it, it is no longer private, maintains Robert Bortins, Classical Conversations CEO. This would require the government hiring more unelected bureaucrats to oversee aspects of students’ lives.

“I’ve always said, ‘with the shekels come the shackles,’” Robert Bortins said, echoing Shlaes’ quote of him in Forbes. “When the government funds private enterprise, it inevitably must regulate it. Homeschool families have proven time and time again they do not need government intervention to be successful.”

While CC is poised to make a significant difference in American education with more than 105,000 students and 12-15-percent annual growth, Robert Bortins says Classical Conversations will make a difference, but without the help of federal education vouchers or scholarships.

For a story on the potential problems with vouchers, please see:


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