Online Academy Founded By Lahaina Inventor Accused Of Teaching Conspiracies and Slang

The State Attorney General Office says they will look into numerous complaints about a popular online academy based in Lahaina. Launched late last year, Academic-Lee, promises students a “…new kind of education for a new kind of world.” With a free curriculum heavy on math and science, and numerous elective classes available for purchase, the online school pledges to change “the face of higher learning by focusing on what works.” However, numerous students claim the elective classes are full of errors, present fringe ideas as truths, and in at least one case, teach non-native English speakers inappropriate language.

Founder of the online school Ano Lee says he was tired of seeing kids finish high school and waste money on college only to graduate with crippling debt, or learn a trade and not have the higher learning background to grow inside their chosen profession. “It was a real catch-22 for these kids,” Lee says. Ano claims he drew upon his years of business experience, surveyed recent graduates about their skills, and talked to other heads of industry to see what they found lacking in new applicants. “I sketched it all out on a whiteboard in the printer shed at the maker commune, and after a few tweaks from the crew, we had the future of education laid out in front of us.”

By all accounts students enrolled in Academic-Lee receive a free rigorous math and science education that surpasses other online schools, and even rivals many other traditional colleges. However, that’s where the similarities between Lee’s institute of higher learning, and other players in the secondary education market end. Every semester students pay to take two elective classes to round out their schedule. It is these classes that have many scratching their heads, and students asking, “What is it that I’m paying for?”

With titles such as: Electronic Music Appreciation, Purple Things, The History of the Illuminati, Sound Sculpture, Real Conspiracies, What the Government Knows About You and What You Should Know About Them, and Bug Hunting, a class in which students learn to make a gadget that sweeps a room for listening devices, many have called into question the school’s curriculum. One of the most controversial electives is, “Regional Conversational English.” The class promises to not only teach real English terms and phrases useful in everyday conversations, but also with a regional touch, allowing students to “blend in wherever you travel.”

Lee says, “Automatic translator software is really good now, but letting your ceremplant do all the work for you can make you look lazy, especially in a job interview. Traditional language classes are a joke, teaching you things you’d never say. I’ve been around the world, and not once did I need to ask someone where the library was. I provide my students with real word phrases, and a mastery of local vernacular that will assure them an easy transition into any area, and maybe even land them the job of their dreams.”

However, Magnus Jorgensen, a 25-year-old PhD student is one of many to say that the phrases they learned in the English program ruined their interviews. Jorgensen says he had always dreamed about working at the Lahaina Veilcorp research lab, and took the class to give him an edge in the interview. The Oslo native says the program teaches you an opening paragraph to memorize, tailored for the position you are applying for, and the location of the business. Magnus says in his case, his opener turned out to be a confusing mishmash of different slang. Everyone was smiling when I walked into the room, but when I spoke the lines I had learned from Academic-Lee, everyone was laughing uncontrollably. Not good laughing.”

I said: “Eh braddahs, sistahs howzit?! I been dreaming bout dis since small kid time. I get dat I’m a newb and you’ll have me grinding on some low level things for a bit, but I rajah dat. I aint lolo. You don’t have to worry bout me going AFK during work hours. I promise that I’ll lock on dah task like an aimbot and go all aggro over it. Dis meeting has been a dream come true for me. Mahalo for your kōkua.”

Despite the controversy Lee stands behind the academy and his curriculum. He says,

“We are an unaccredited institution for a reason. We don’t want to be bound by what the government or big corporations think our students should learn. I’ll admit that the position and location slang generators sometimes trip over each other, but to say that no one in a professional setting talks like this is laughable. I’ve: single handedly revitalized the pineapple business in Hawaiia, created technology used by over a dozen countries and our own Navy to keep swimmers safe, and been recognized for my outstanding educational work with children. And let me assure you, bruddah, I say some of these things, or much worse in meetings all the time.”