online education

Alameda Unified Drops Online School Program After Claims of Racist, Sexist Content

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A school district in the East Bay is dropping out of a controversial online learning program.

The decision comes after several parents in Alameda raised red flags about learning materials that some argued is racist and sexist.

Acellus Learning Accelerator is an online learning program the Alameda Unified School District handpicked for all remote learning students to use in the fall.

In a letter addressed to parents, the district's superintendent said the district was already using Acellus for high school students who were trying to catch up on credits and thought it would be a perfect fit for everyone else.

But by late summer, resident Jennifer Eckman said what she found on Acellus raised some alarms.

"There were examples of racism, examples of sexism," Eckman said. "There was religious material that was being taught as fact."

Eckman has two children enrolled at Paden Elementary School. Eckman was stunned when she found social media posts from other parents across the country who claimed the Acellus program posed an implicitly racist question.

"It was asking what is a family and it showed an African-American woman and her child and then a white couple and their child," Eckman said. "And the correct answer was the white couple."

Eckman joined hundreds of other Alameda Unified School District parents who signed a Change.org petition urging the district to scrap Accellus.

"We bought a home here so our kids could enroll in these schools and to have them roll out something like that," Eckman said. "It's very disappointing."

On Monday, the district decided to cut ties with Acellus.

In a letter to parents, the superintendent wrote "As a district, we do not condone such content and absolutely do not want to be a vehicle for presenting such content to students."

The district must now pick another remote learning program. Once that decision is made, district officials said it will take two weeks to train teachers before students can use it.

Eckman said it was a lesson for the district, and one for her kids as well.

"I did show my children the material," Eckman said. "I want my children to be aware of what is appropriate and what is not appropriate."

NBC Bay Area reached out to Acellus, but could not get anyone from the company who could comment.

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