Outschool.com Practices Discrimination Hypocrisy

By Tim Spiess

May 13th, 2020

 

Being racist will not solve racism.  Being discriminatory will not solve discrimination.  Being exclusve will not produce inclusivity.  No individual or group gets a pass to be wrong in order to try and make things right.  No individual or group gets to make logical fallacies (use falsehoods) in order to somehow produce or advance rightness.  The staff at Outschool (and all who share their moral and political ideology) rejects ALL of these truths.  Read on...

 

(See the end of the article for updates. For example, Outschool provided a response to a parent asking what happened to me, and I respond to Outschool's claims.)

On May 12th, 2020, the people who run Outschool.com - and online learning website and platform - banned me from continuing to teach my classes.  They did not talk with me beforehand, and prior to May 12, they had refused to answer my questions regarding concerns I had with their policies.  They simply kicked me off their platform with no prior notice and withdrew all the students from MY classes - classes I was in the process of teaching.

I have spent hundreds of hours developing exceptional curriculum that can be taught over Outschool.  My wife and I are small business owners and free lancers and we are being hit hard by the COVID19 pandemic.  We still have two children in our household, one of which is disabled.  So Outschool banishing me from their platform and thus significantly reducing our income is wrong, compassionless and absolutely discriminatory as this page will document.  In fact, it is more than discriminatory, it is persecuting others, the very thing Outschool claims they stand against.

Outschool does NOT practice what they preach. They are not truly tolerant, nor are they inclusive, and they do discriminate.  I am living proof of that fact and this page will supply facts that support this claim.

 

I had received many reviews from students and parents from my teaching on Outschool and my review average was close to 5 out of 5 stars.  Here is an example of one review from a parent:

"Tim Spiess is a FANTASTIC teacher. The best. He is smart, he is articulate, he is caring and he is an amazing teacher. I cannot recommend him highly enough. If you are considering learning anything related to philosophy for your child, please consider Mr. Spiess. He will not disappoint. He went above and beyond than most teachers would do to ensure that my son's questions were being answered well. Thank you Mr. Spiess."

This parent also sent this review to Outschool on May 2nd, 2002.  Here is how Outschool responded:

"Thanks for the feedback. I'm glad to hear things went well!  Tim is a great teacher and we truly appreciate parents taking the time to write in when they feel strongly about classes...Celeste"

So, what happened?  What horrible thing did I do to deserve having his income from Outschool cut off and having been rudely and abruptly disconnected from students I actually care about and enjoyed teaching?

Here is Outschools justification for throwing me off their platform:

"In viewing the classes, we noticed your use of homophobia in a discriminatory way and we also noticed that your controversial issues class was not fully objective.  You did not present multiple view points on every issue as is required by our policy."

My first question is why did they not just tell me to change or drop those two classes they specifically point out? Why force me totally off their platform?  If I only allegedly broke their policy in one to two classes, it seems unjustifiably harsh to completely throw me off the platform?

I did NOT use the term homophobic in a discriminatory way.  Using homophobic in a discriminatory way would mean that I would call someone homophobic!  In Outschool staff's twisted view, they say that I am being discriminatory by teaching my students that people who label or name-call others as "homophobic" (or islamaphobic or anything-phobic) are committing a fallacy of either ad hominem abusive (calling someone wrongfully fearful) or the straw man fallacy (misrepresenting a person's argument).

But in Outschool staff's view, apparently gay people get a free pass to use logical fallacies against others.  In other words, to counter the wrongs that have been done to some gay people, gay people now get a pass to use falsehoods against those who disagree with them.  So, the reasoning is, allow this group of people to use fallacies in order to right some wrong that was done to that group in the past.  According to this philosophy, it would therefore be morally acceptable for women to speak falsehoods (do what is morally wrong) against men since women have been discriminated against in the past.  This type of ideology is extremely harmful and destructive and anyone who can reason well can see where that ideology leads.

Let me say that again more simply.  Outschool is saying I am breaking their discrimination policy by teaching students that people who call each other names (like "your a homophobe") are committing logical fallacies and are  communicating in an unhelpful and non-productive manner.  If you seek out any good logician, they will verify that name-calling or speculative labeling is always fallacious in nature.

Regarding their second claim, that "your controversial issues class was not fully objective.  You did not present multiple view points on every issue as is required by our policy".  Like I said above, why not work with me to change or drop those classes and allow me to teach my other classes like "How to Build a House" or "Intro to the Philosophy of Science" or "The Art of Arguing: Logic Matters in Everyday Life" or "Intro to the Philosophy of Ethics"?

Again, is seems like a large over reaction to respond to the complaint of one or a few parents by kicking me off the platform, over the many dozens of parents and students who gave me a close to 5 star average rating.  Perhaps the real issue is that my teachings specifically in my logic and ethics classes expose the falsehoods in some of the ideologies that Outschool staff hold and they are offended by that?  Perhaps the truth is that my offense is not submitting to, affirming, nor promoting their political and/or ethical ideology?  Maybe their true ideology is, "my way or the highway"?

When moral relativists (probably the majority of Outschool staff) - those who don't believe there are objective, universal moral principles but rather believe that moral reality is created by individuals or cultures - talk about "objectivity", they are saying something very different than the actual definition of objectivity in the dictionaries, which definitions have not significantly changed over time.  Here are those definitions of the term "objective":

Cambridge Dictionary:  "based on real facts and not influenced by personal beliefs or feelings"

Merriam-Webster:  "expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations"

Oxford Dictionary:  "(of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts."

So, it is quite clear that to be "objective" means to not be influenced or biased by emotions or subjective personal beliefs.  An example of a subjective personal belief would be, "I think pizza is the best food" or "I think that flower is beautiful" or "I think men are stupid".

(Regarding my personal beliefs, if I address the issue of homosexuality, I will almost always lead that brief discussion with saying how homosexual people are people just like everyone else; that many have been wrongfully and shamefully treated; and that they are due respect and dignity just like everyone else.  I have made it clear that to truly discriminate (unjustifiably treat someone in an unfair way) against anyone is wrong.  I have made it clear that anyone who has hatred or animosity towards others is wrong.)

When moral relativists - like the staff at Outschool who demanded I be thrown off the platform - say that I was "not fully objective", what THEY MEAN by that is that I did not adequately present both or multiple sides of an issue.  They are not claiming that I was overly influenced by my personal feelings or opinions (because that is the mindset in which relativists 'live' so to speak), which is what it means to lack objectivity.

So, for example, if I assert that the FACTS support that 'the vast majority of people are either male or female', that would be a "non-objective" statement to many relativists.  The relativist insists that I must also state that 'some people believe themselves to be genders which do not align with their sex', and if I don't state that, then I am not being "objective", or worse, I am being "discriminatory".  That is an irrational position for the following reason.

Stating facts supported by good reasons is the objective way to evaluate reality.  It is not "objective" to state that while men are men, some believe that some men are women.  It is not "objective" because the latter half of the statement does not line up with facts supported by sound reasoning.  Stating "two sides", one supported by evidence and sound reason and one unsupported by evidence nor sound reason, is NOT being "objective".  Rather, it is at best spreading confusion and at worst, spreading falsehood.  This is the nature of truth.

Relativists contradictory world view is easily demonstrated by this statement.  "It is wrong to say I am wrong".  This is the relatavists basic defense when they disagree with someone.  But their primary defense is obviously self-defeating.  The person who utters that statement is contradicting themselves, and so it is with those who hold the average relativistic moral view...they contradict themselves, just like in my case documented in this article.  Outschool staff says, "You must not discriminate...you must be inclusive...  And yet, they break these very principles when they exclude and discriminate against people who hold my views.

When I reviewed my "Examining Controversial Social Issues in the Light of Reason" with the Outschool staff some months ago, I had originally planned on addressing the topic of "the new sexual revolution", but Outschool insisted there could only be one side to that issue, and if I did not solely present that side, I could not teach that subject.  So, I submitted to Outschools wrongful request to not include that topic in that class.  However, please note that Outschool is contradicting their own policies in their insistance that there is only one legitimate view regarding homosexuality, for example.  First, by insisting I NOT present more than one side on that issue.  Second, by not being inclusive of other views.

So, in short, relativists have redefined "objective" to align with their world view that there is no truth or fact, only perceptions.  Therefore, if I don't state all possibilities - including ones that don't line up with verifiable or reason-supported facts - then I am "not objective".  Again, that is an irrational position.

Facts are facts.  1 + 1 = 2.  Murder is wrong.  The earth orbits around the sun.  Lying for selfish purposes in morally wrong.  A man is a man and a woman is a woman except in the very small number of cases where someone is born with intersex features (and no, intersex people should not be discriminated against, but should be treated like any other human being).  People don't typically handle power well.  The rich typically use their wealth to further enrich themselves.  People are predisposed to conflict and war.  Need I go on?  Facts are facts.  Undeniable truths don't go away because I refuse to acknowledge them or wish they did not exist.

Let's get to the crux of the matter.

Outschool EXCLUDES huge numbers of people with their basic policy of "secular only".  So Outschool discriminates against and excludes a large percentage of the population of the U.S.  They are free to do that, but to turn around and claim "we practice inclusion and tolerance" is gross hypocrisy.  Admit it Outschool, you do not practice what you preach, at least not the rational versions of inclusion and tolerance.

The ideology that Outschool staff hold (and they are located in San Francisco CA) is one of intolerance and discrimination.  True tolerance is to not hold animosity or hatred towards anyone; to treat all people fairly, and to give the benefit of the doubt to others.  Outschools version of "tolerance" is 'You must hold to OUR view (of  morality or politics, etc.), or else you are a person who hates and you must be persecuted, like kicking you off of our platform so you lose your income so that you are less able to support your family, including your disabled child'.  No, that is not only not truly tolerant, it is morally wrong and against the law.

I think it would be inclusive and tolerant to let people of all different kinds of beliefs have access to Outschool's platform.  To be fearful or discriminatory is to come from a position of weakness and indicates those people are insecure in their beliefs.  Let the parents who use Outschool decide which teachers to choose.  As long as teachers are sincere and transparent in describing their class and what view they are coming from, why would it be a problem to be truly inclusive, Outschool?  Why are you exclusive instead and break one of your main tenants of inclusion in the process?  The only teachers who should be excluded from Outschool are those who truly push hatred - hatred being the desire to harm or see harmed or humiliated, individuals or groups of people; or those who are poor teachers.  Why do you, Outschool staff, redefine "hatred" as "disagreeing with YOUR ideology", even when the person who disagrees with your ideology does not hate anyone???

Not only has Outschool wrongly discriminated against me and those who share my views, they have gone further and persecuted me by taking away income I need to support my family, including my disabled son.  I ask for help.  I have asked Outschool to provide the following:

It has been about 2 days since I have made those requests and I have gotten no response from Outschool.

Please contact Outschool and stand with me against wrongful policies and behavior.

Thank you,

Tim

UPDATES:

5/15/20 12:20PM CST

I received a communication from a supportive parent who asked why I (Mr. Spiess) was no longer a teacher on Outschool.  Outschool responded with the following:

"Hi (Parent), It’s come to our attention that you may have received a message yesterday from a former Outschool teacher, Tim Spiess. We’re very sorry about this, and wanted to provide a bit more context regarding this teacher's removal from our platform. We ask all Outschool teachers to offer classes that are objective, secular, and age-appropriate. 

[And I did just that.  My teaching are actually objective, as defined by the dictionaries cited in the article above.  I never interjected my "religious beliefs" into my classes.  And my classes are age appropriate.]

We have adopted this policy so that Outschool classes can be relevant to the widest audience, and so parents can participate in any Outschool class knowing they will not be subjected to a teacher's personal religious or political beliefs, or other objectionable content.

[So, in Outschool staff's worldview, restricting their platform to teachers who will only teach "secular" (defined as having NO religious or God-themed content) is catering to "the widest audience".  That is an entirely false and irrational claim since approximately 80 percent of the U.S. population hold to some religious belief.  So, that is a bald-faced lie.

Again, I did not express my "religious" views on Outschool, and they have absolutely no proof otherwise.  In terms of their claims about "political beliefs, or other objectionable content", I diligently expressed in my Outschool class listing descriptions that I don't affiliate or identify with any political party and I push heavily to discuss issues, not throw labels around.  So, the issue is actually that Outschool does not like my beliefs, specifically beliefs they consider conservative, and the fact is that Outschool staff considers some conservative beliefs or moral views as "objectionable content", which of course contradicts their "tolerance" and "inclusion" doctrines.]

If a teacher fails to uphold this policy by presenting their own personal viewpoints as fact, we work with them to help them correct this behavior.

[To cut through this evasive language and vague accusations, contact Outschool and ask if they believe, for example, that it is a "fact" that homosexual marriage is morally right.  Or, ask them if it is a "fact" that a biological man can actually be a woman.  Or ask them if it is a "fact" that an unborn baby at 7 months of development should not be covered by laws regarding murder.  If they say anything other than "yes", then ask them how do they judge anyone as "presenting their own personal viewpoints as fact"?  If they answer "yes", then they are betrayed as hypocrites defending their own ideology while rejecting and persecuting those who differ in their views.]

If, after being warned and corrected, a teacher continues to violate this policy, we remove them from our platform to maintain the safety and quality of our classes.

[Ah, there is they key word that those with certain liberal ideology pull out to defend their hypocritical and wrongful actions - "safety".  To use the word "safety" in the context of my interactions with Outschool is truly libelous and horrible wrong.  If anything should show you the corruptness of the ideology that Outschool staff is stuck in and using to persecute those who differ from their views.]

It happens very rarely, but this is what occurred in the case of Mr. Spiess. We’re working directly with him to address his questions and concerns. If you have any questions about this situation, please feel free to reach out to us at support@outschool.com. Thanks for your understanding,"

---End of Outschool communication to a concerned parent---

It is a lie to have said that they are "working directly with him to address his questions and concerns" because working with implies a two way exchange.  They have ignored my reasonable requests like providing me with my reviews from my students/parents and providing me with the video clips that allegedly demonstrate the wrong things they accuse me of.  After abruptly and rudely banishing me from the site, they sent one email four days later which had NO components of "working with me", but rather just justified their actions, refused my reasonable requests, and told me "were done".  Here is the end of that email from Outschool:

"In regards to your request for information contained on our platform, we will not be able to allow you access to this information.  Per our Privacy Policy, we do not provide personal contact information to teachers or parents about others that use the site.  In our terms and conditions you will also find that the recordings are Outschool property and those will need to remain here on our site. We do not plan to have further communication on this issue and consider it settled."

Notice how they ignore my request to get my reviews for my classes.  Why would they do that?  They also refuse to provide the video clips where I allegedly violate their policy.  Why?  And why could they not reach out to the parents who left positive reviews for my classes to see if they would be willing to provide personal emails to me so they could continue taking my classes on some other platform?  Seems very punitive, wouldn't you agree?

Please don't just ignore what is happening here.  It will happen to you too IF you do have the courage to stand up for what is right and thus against what is wrong.  If you don't have the courage to stand up for what is right, why should you expect to also not be discriminated against or persecuted?  Press Outschool to actually SEE the things that they allege that I did that are wrong and warrant taking a dad's income away - show me the actual video segments where Mr. Spiess did something wrong.  They will not provide that because it will expose their wrongness and duplicity.  Obstruct, obfuscate, deny and confuse - these are the tactics that Outschool is using to cover up their illegal and discriminatory policies and behavior.

 

Please, be part of the solution instead of part of the problem...join the peaceful revolution!

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