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Jill Dillard (née Duggar)’s husband, Derick Dillard, recently claimed that the Duggar siblings’ education fell to the wayside as their parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, placed more importance on filming the family’s TLC shows, 19 Kids and Counting and Counting On. As a result, according to Derick, the Duggar kids allegedly never went past a middle school education level.
Jill, 32, and Derick, 34, spoke about the Duggars growing up on reality TV in an interview with the Los Angeles Times published on September 28. When asked how the “industry could operate more ethically” when children are involved, Derick highlighted that there are no protections in place for education.
“If a family sees an opportunity to make money, they can justify taking away their kids’ time [in school] because, well, they don’t need education, they can just have this money to support them,” the lawyer said.
Derick then went on to claim that “none” of Jill’s 18 siblings “really had much education past the seventh grade.”
“A lot of that was due to the show taking over. It was like, ‘Well, if the show requires most of the filming hours during the weekday, then school is not really that important,’” he added.
As seen on the Duggar family’s reality shows, Jim Bob, 58, and Michelle, 57, homeschooled their children. However, the curriculum was controversial, as it was rooted in the teachings of the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP). The Duggar family has followed the IBLP, a non-denominational Christian ministry with strict rules about the roles of men and women in society, for years.
While Jill did not confirm her siblings’ education level, the Counting the Cost author agreed that children on reality TV need to be protected when it comes to schooling.
“I can’t say that kids should never be involved in reality TV because I think parents should have a say. But I think networks should have more accountability in place to make sure that kids are being protected, and that they’re getting the education they need, that [the TV show] is not taking priority and that their rights are not being violated,” Jill explained. “There were very vulnerable moments, like I point out in the book, where I wish I didn’t have to be on reality TV, but I had to.”
Additionally, when asked if she felt her siblings were “deprived” of an education, Jill said yes.
“I went on to take some college classes. I got my midwifery certifications. I’m currently inactive on my status now,” the Counting On alum continued. “But I do think that the show took priority in a lot of areas of our lives. Yes, there were great parts to it. But there were also very difficult parts that I would not choose, if I got to go back and I actually had a choice.”