Tl; dr

  • PragerU is a media company that’s been pumping out extremist content for over a decade
  • In the last month both Florida and Oklahoma have added PragerU to their list of approved content to show in public school classrooms
  • While no evidence of actual indoctrination exists, Governor Sanders has been endorsing her own extremist values for public schools since she first came into office
  • PragerU in AR schools is a natural next move, and Arkansans should be ready to strongly oppose this kind of material in classrooms
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Over the last several weeks the name “PragerU” has made its way into the headlines. The term might only be familiar to those who spent time in evangelical spaces over the last decade and a half. With its “Fireside Chats” with the company’s founder, many biblical references, and pointed political commentary, PragerU has long graced the screens of churches, homeschools, and other conservative spaces.

Now the extremist media company is making its way into public school classrooms.

Last month it was Florida; this week, it’s Oklahoma. Both of these states are known for the refrain of “education, not indoctrination” from its far-right leadership. 

Meanwhile, they are now allowing a company that pumps out video content of cartoon characters that “Back the Blue,”misinformation about transgender kids called “Why Girls Become Boys,” and even a breakdown of many books of the Bible.

Most recently, PragerU announced their partnership with the state of Oklahoma on their website, complete with a prompt to sign a petition to put the company in more schools across America.

Their intention to be in classrooms across the country is alarming, to say the least. It’s also puzzling, as the leaders who cry “indoctrination” are the very ones rolling out the red carpet for the nonprofit that brags about “changing minds” of young people through its YouTube videos.

This points back to a hypocrisy we’ve all observed for over a year: far-right extremist leaders actually do want indoctrination, as long as it’s the right brand.

We haven’t forgotten how our governor wasted no time visiting an Arkansas school to pass out Dr. Ben Carson’s book, “Why America Matters.” Don’t let the title fool you— the patriotism in this book is not the kind we want our kids learning in school. It’s littered with lines that can only be read as indoctrination material. The book is described as “a children’s book about the Judeo-Christian values of America and its founding, and the importance of the Four Pillars of the American Cornerstone Institute: Faith, Liberty, Community, Life.”

Let us be clear: teaching these values and using this book is the right of every parent in the state of Arkansas. 

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But having this book in classrooms, handed out by the newly elected Governor? That blurs the lines between church and state and only emboldens actual far-right indoctrination of children.

Our Secretary of Education Jacob Oliva has shown that he will do the bidding of extremist governors. He started in Florida, where PragerU first entered public schools. Throughout the LEARNS Act debacle, Oliva has not wavered as a talking head of the Sanders administration. There is no evidence that he would slow the infiltration of our schools by far-right extremists. There’s no evidence that he wants to protect the right of our kids to learn to think freely. 

We’ve talked for months about how LEARNS works to purposefully funnel of public education dollars into private entities. A natural next step in the destruction of public education would be a partnership with a far-right extremist organization like PragerU.

Arkansas, we can’t let this happen.

We will be paying close attention over the next several weeks. Watch for more states to invite PragerU into its classrooms and more pushes for this kind of public-private partnership in education.

Most of all, be ready to strongly oppose invitations of PragerU into our public schools. It has no place in front of students, and we will make that known if and when we need to.