Washington, D.C.—September 30, 2020—Today, the church/state separation watchdog American Atheists announced that the nationwide online content provider, Edgenuity, has removed unconstitutional religious materials from public school online classes offered during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an email exchange with American Atheists earlier this month, Edgenuity recognized that this material was inappropriate and indicated it would look into correcting the problem with a subcontractor. Since then, American Atheists has received word from its members in Ohio, Michigan, New Mexico, and Kansas that the unconstitutional content has been removed.
“Edgenuity recognized the issue and acted swiftly and decisively in removing the unconstitutional religious content from its online curriculum,” said Geoffrey Blackwell, Litigation Counsel at American Atheists. “We are pleased with the outcome.”
Edgenuity is one of the largest providers of virtual instruction in the United States. In 2019, even before COVID-19, Edgenuity claimed more than 4 million students and indicated that “its products and services are currently used in each of the top 10 largest school districts–as well as 21 of the 25 largest school districts–within the U.S.”
“Edgenuity is living up to its image as a major online curriculum provider, and children of all faiths and none are seeing their religious freedom respected. This is a win-win situation for everyone,” added Blackwell.
Materials obtained by American Atheists showed that a module of Third Grade Social Studies was teaching Bible stories, including Joseph of the Many-Colored Coat and the Tower of Babel, as social studies at public schools.
“We and our members appreciate Edgenuity’s recognition that public school content should remain religiously neutral. That’s something every parent—whether atheist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or any other religion—can agree on,” said Nick Fish, president of American Atheists. “Edgenuity did the right thing in protecting all students’ constitutional rights.”
“While Edgenuity has removed these unconstitutional religious materials, there may be other service providers that continue to offer them,” warned Alison Gill, Vice President for Legal and Policy at American Atheists.
This month, the church/state watchdog sent advisory letters to state education chiefs in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, warning them that some virtual learning service providers had included this type of unconstitutional religious content in their curriculum.
“Parents should not have to be the ones monitoring their children’s curriculum for unconstitutional materials,” added Gill. “It shouldn’t be there in the first place. We urge public schools to act as the first line of defense and carefully monitor the curriculum offered through these services to ensure compliance with the Constitution. Our children deserve nothing less.”