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ABCmouse Has Been Trapping Working Parents, and It's Not OK. (Scientology connection discussed.)

Discussion in 'News and Current Events' started by COS and NOI News, Sep 21, 2020.

  1. ABCmouse Has Been Trapping Working Parents, and It's Not OK. (Scientology connection discussed.)

    Working Mother: ABCmouse Has Been Trapping Working Parents, and It's Not OK.

    The FTC just slapped the hugely popular online education company with a $10 million settlement for alleged illegal marketing and billing practices—and this mom can’t believe no one is talking about it.

    https://www.workingmother.com/abcmouse-trapping-working-parents

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    But I learned something during my deep dive into ABCmouse that made me uncomfortable: In addition to being a successful online innovator and entrepreneur, Age of Learning’s founder and executive chairman, Doug Dohring, is also a longtime Scientologist. And so is Chief Technology Officer Bill McCaffrey. According to not-fact-checked-wouldn’t-bet-my-reputation-on-them ex-Scientologist online sources, both Chief Operating Officer Lee Borth and the President of Greater China for the company, Jerry Chen, might be, too. (I asked the Age of Learning spokesperson if she could confirm that for me. She told me, “We don’t ask any of our employees about their religious beliefs or affiliations.” Fair enough.)

    Now, hear me out: My issue here isn't some tinfoil-hat fear that "they're indoctrinating our children!" There’s zero evidence that Scientology’s religious or so-called “study tech” beliefs have found their way into ABCmouse programming. The company’s curriculum board is packed with child psychologists, teachers and other education pros! But, as anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock since Leah Remini’s Emmy-winning docuseries Scientology and the Aftermath launched in 2016—or since Alex Gibney and Lawrence Wright’s documentary Going Clear hit HBO the year before—it’s well-known that wealthy Scientologists give a lot of money to their church.

    In this moment in time, when more of us are being conscientious about the social and ideological practices of the companies we support with our dollars, do I want to even indirectly support a religious group that ex-members, whistleblowers, and investigative journalists allege has historically anti-gay policies, questionable ethical practices, and a very public partnership with what the Southern Poverty Law Center calls an anti-semitic hate group? According to multiple Redditors, at least one home-school blogger, and a lady quoted in the British tabloid the Sun, I’m not the only potential ABCmouse customer asking themselves this question.

    I was nervous about asking the Age of Learning spokesperson about the Scientology thing—in part because I’m a nice person who doesn’t like conflict, and in part because, in the course of writing this piece, I also learned that the Church of Scientology has a nasty reputation for attacking writers who say anything bad about it, including Paulette Cooper, Lawrence Wright, Rich Behar, and Louis Theroux. (FWIW, Scientology maintains that it isn’t hostile to the press.)

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    ETA: The names Lee Borth and Jenny Chen both link to Tony Ortega's story:

    Whale watching, 2016 edition: Who’s keeping Scientology afloat?

    https://tonyortega.org/2016/01/23/whale-watching-2016-edition-whos-keeping-scientology-afloat/

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