Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, D-New City, is asking the CEO of a website used by teachers to review the appropriateness and accuracy of lessons posted to the site. This is in response to complaints by several of his constituents, who called to address Study.com’s “insensitive” portrayal of the Jewish faith.
Zebrowski is discomforted with the complaints he has been receiving from parents of middle school students from the Nyack and Clarkstown school districts. His concern with the site’s content resulted in a message to school systems statewide.
“Until the content on this site is reviewed, I have called on all schools in New York to cease the use of it,” Zebrowski said.
The CEO of Study.com, Adrian Ridner, was contacted by Zebrowski through a letter that voiced the legislator’s concerns.
In the letter Zebrowski makes it clear that Ridner’s company is held responsible for inaccurately and inappropriately educating these students. “I just don’t understand how a website with the name Study.com is exploiting complex topics such as religion,” the assemblyman said.
The site’s lessons were utilized by teachers in Rockland County to complement their lectures. According to Zebrowski, they did the “complete opposite.” One video reportedly shown to the students informed them how the ancient Romans treated other religions. Zebrowski was in shock when he learned that this lesson described the Jews as “violent and extremists” and that they “got what they deserved”.
According to the assemblyman, school administrators were in disbelief that these lessons were being used in classrooms. Teachers were also concerned because they had been under the impression the website was a credible educational resource. Both schools issued a formal apology to students and sent letters home to parents.
In reaction to the video being screened in the classrooms, Nyack and Clarkstown schools took steps to repair the situation. First, they banned the use of the site. Most importantly, they wanted to rightfully inform their students on the Jewish religion. They collaborated with members of Jewish advocacy groups to educate students on the subject.
Zebrowski has not introduced legislation concerning this issue, but he is remaining cautious. He has given Study.com the chance to review the material on its website and make sure the material is appropriate and accurate. “[I am] publicly calling on this website to make a change because who knows how many teachers are using it in their classrooms.”
Study.com offers thousands of video lessons on a variety of subjects. The website also provides courses that can be taken for college credit. In order to use the site, a monthly fee ranging from $49.99 to $199.99 is charged to the user, depending on the package that is purchased.
Zebrowski said he is confident his letter to Study.com will bring about positive change. He said he only wants the best for public school students across New York state and will “make sure that they get the education that they deserve.”