Racist and sexist content prompts Alameda schools to cut ties with online curriculum

ALAMEDA — Alameda Schools plans to cut ties with a distance learning program after parents complained its curriculum included racist material.

Superintendent Pasquale Scuder and School Board President Mialisa Bonta described the content as “racist, sexist, homophobic and otherwise inappropriate for our students, our school and our community as a whole” in an August 31 letter to families in the school district. Alameda Unified.

Scuder and Bonta said they plan to ask district administrators to authorize the district to stop using the program at the September 8 school board meeting.

According to an online petition, Acellus’ lessons teach the economic justifications for slavery, equate Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery with freedom from a burglar, and show dolls talking about “hating women”.

Scuder and Bonta said they are investigating two alternative distance learning platforms that could be used instead of Acelllus in the future, and estimate it will take up to 14 days to train. teachers, provide information to families and implement a new curriculum.

“We understand that a natural question at this point is ‘How did this happen? said district officials. “There are a number of factors that contributed to our selection of Acellus for the distance learning program earlier this summer, including the fact that we use this platform for some additional content and recovery high school credits for seven years and no concerns have been raised.”

By Thursday afternoon, 776 people had signed the online petition demanding that the district stop using the Acellus program.

The petition noted that the Alameda School District had previously removed lessons from Acellus that had been labeled as racist or as having sexist or violent content; revised each labeled lesson to reflect current attitudes and usage; and that the company is committed to reviewing all courses to ensure that its material reflects current attitudes and standards.

Alameda School District spokesperson Susan Davis said the Acellus program was only going to be used by students who had to stay in online learning for the entire year, often because they- themselves or a family member are in a COVID-19 high risk group. Most students use a different curriculum.

“We have about 950 students in the distance learning program,” Davis said by email Thursday. “A few used it last week back to school, but it’s now been disabled while we look for another program.”

The Chico School District recently dropped the Acellus program due to content complaints from parents, according to Chico Enterprise-Record. And at least four elementary schools in Hawaii have canceled contracts with the company, according to USA Today.

According to its website, Acellus was created by the International Academy of Sciences, a non-profit organization, in 2001 and has since been adopted by thousands of schools across the country.

A representative for Acellus was not immediately available for comment.

Karen O. Fielding