HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - State lawmakers criticized the state Department of Education on Tuesday for being too slow to pull the plug on an online learning program that included content that educators and parents have labeled was sexist, racist, or simply inappropriate.
The DOE implemented the Acellus platform for distance learning, but started to review the decision after parents and teachers started spotting alarming content.
Examples of inappropriate content, shared by teachers and parents on social media, range from misspellings (including of Queen Liliuokalani’s name) to incorrect representations of Hawaiian history to multiple choice questions that were considered racist or rely on stereotypes.
One lesson, for example, compared Harriet Tubman to a burglar.
The DOE said it plans to end the program after a transition period, but lawmakers say that is too slow and called for ending the program immediately.
“To me, these are grossly inappropriate and they are damaging to kids,” said House Education Chairman Justin Woodson.
“So if that’s the case, and other jurisdictions are able to discontinue the curricula, why aren’t we able to do the same?”
But Kishimoto said suddenly removing the program would cost students learning time and disrupt their progress. She said they are asking the company to remove unacceptable material and sloppy lessons until a new online learning system is adopted.
“We are moving as quickly as possible, representative. We are accountable for the quality of this curriculum and it is really sloppy work. That’s what we are seeing and it’s inconsistent,” DOE Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said.
“I am personally anxious to move toward a permanent solution,” Kishimoto added.
[Related coverage: Parent complaints mount over use of DOE-approved platform for online learning]