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The Oklahoma Department of Education on Tuesday announced it has partnered with PragerU, a California-based nonprofit that publishes free online video lessons for students that its talk-radio host founder says indoctrinates children with conservative views.

Superintendent Ryan Walters endorsed the content. “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,” he said in a written statement.

But there is reason for concern. For one, teachers, parents and historians say the videos contain misinformation and whitewashed history. Animated characters in the videos downplay slavery and climate change.

Second, the PragerU materials have not been vetted by the state’s textbook committee, the process the state uses to review curriculum for quality and alignment to state standards. But the Education Department now links to lesson plans and PragerU materials on its website.

There’s no contract with the state and no cost, said Dan Isett, a department spokesman, adding that PragerU plans to create Oklahoma specific materials in the future.

It’s worth considering, too, how PragerU operates. Despite its name, PragerU is not a university. It’s a nonprofit organization that describes its mission like this: “We promote American values through the creative use of digital media.” The organization received $65.5 million in revenue in 2021, mostly through donations, according to public tax documents.

It spent nearly $21 million that year on advertising — over $9 million at Facebook, $7 million at Google, and $1 million at Fox News. The organization is one of the top ad buyers on Facebook, with more than $17 million spent on 25,000 ads between May 2018 and August 2023, according to Meta’s ad data.

The ads promote petitions to get PragerU content in schools and accuse teachers of promoting “radical ideas about gender, race and anti-Americanism,” a talking point repeated regularly by conservative politicians, including Walters.

Oklahoma is the second state to approve schools’ use of PragerU Kids, after Florida.

What do you think of the state’s partnership with PragerU? I’d love to hear from you via email or direct message.

— Jennifer Palmer

Recommended Reading

  • A 16-year-old Oklahoman has become the youngest, full-time salaried teacher in the nation. She’s working on her master’s degree, too. [The Black Wall Street Times]
  • A surge of student absenteeism continues in public schools. [The New York Times]
  • Right-wing media outlet PragerU has raised over $200 million from top conservative donors. It’s rise has also been fueled by slick marketing. [The Guardian]

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