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Oklahoma’s state education partnership with PragerU sparks controversy

Oklahoma’s State Superintendent of Public Education, Ryan Walters, has announced a statewide partnership with PragerU, a private faith-based video-education firm. PragerU is known for producing short, conservative-leaning videos that often contain controversial content. This move has sparked controversy as critics argue that PragerU’s materials promote conservative talking points and sometimes contain misleading or factually incorrect information, particularly on topics like climate change, slavery, racism, and immigration.

The partnership follows a similar decision made by Florida to approve PragerU materials as “supplemental curriculum,” ensuring that teachers in the state cannot be fired for using PragerU content. Superintendent Walters, who has faced criticism for pushing to reform Oklahoma’s public education system along conservative evangelical and Trumpian Republican lines, sees this partnership as a way to counter what he perceives as “woke” liberal influences in education.

PragerU gained prominence after Donald Trump’s election as president in 2016 and has amassed a large following with videos covering a range of topics from climate change denial to political issues and cultural commentary. The company has also sought to expand its influence by engaging young audiences through initiatives like the PragerForce and internet shows.

Overall, this partnership between Oklahoma’s education system and PragerU has ignited debate about the role of conservative-leaning content in public education and its potential impact on students’ perspectives.

Baptist News Global reports:

Oklahoma’s controversial new state superintendent of public education has launched a statewide partnership with a private faith-based video-education firm criticized for dealing loosely with history while advancing conservative talking points.

“I am thrilled to announce this partnership with PragerU,” said State Superintendent Ryan Walters. “This expansion of our available resources will help ensure high quality materials rich in American history and values will be available to our teachers and students. We will work together to find ways for PragerU to create content that will enrich the education of Oklahoma students.”

Oklahoma follows a similar decision this summer by Florida, where PragerU materials were approved as “supplemental curriculum.”

In announcing the Florida move, Prager CEO Marissa Streit said, “This means if you are a teacher in Florida you cannot be fired for using PragerU content.”

Most PragerU videos are 5 minutes long, fast-paced, full of graphs and unapologetically conservative. Current titles promoted on the website include “Was the Civil War About Slavery?” and “The Inconvenient Truth About the Democratic Party” and “Are We Living on Stolen Land?” and “The Moral Case for Mockery.”

PragerU, which is not a university and does not confer degrees, was founded in 2009 by Allen Estrin and talk show host Dennis Prager. Its Wikipedia entry says bluntly: “PragerU’s videos contain misleading or factually incorrect information promoting climate change denial. Historians and political scientists have also criticized PragerU’s videos for containing misleading or inaccurate claims about topics such as slavery and racism in the United States, immigration, and the history of fascism. PragerU has been accused of promoting anti-LGBT politics.”

Read the full article.

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