Ryan Walters further decreases quality of Oklahoma education

Oklahoma State Superintendent looks to indoctrinate innocent children with conservative ideology.
Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters wants to ensure that students get a “pro-American” education in school without the possibility of “left-wing indoctrination.” To accomplish this goal, Walters partnered with PragerU, founded by Dennis Prager, who admitted wanting to indoctrinate children with his material. PragerU describes itself as “a free alternative to the dominant left-wing ideology in culture, media, and education.”
This partnership comes just months after the 2023 Kids Count Data Book was released, ranking Oklahoma 49th in public K-12 education. While 76% of Oklahoma’s fourth-graders fall below proficiency standards in literacy and 84% of eighth-graders fall behind in math, Walters is focused on ensuring that Oklahomans get an education centered around traditional American values of self-reliance, patriotism and resiliency. “I am thrilled to announce this partnership with PragerU,” Walters stated. “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.”
PragerU is a free online platform with specific shows geared towards different ages. One of their kid’s shows is “Leo and Layla’s History Adventures,” which depicts two children learning about American History. An episode that warrants criticism is “Leo and Layla Meet Christopher Columbus,” where the two children time travel to 1493 to discover the so-called truth about Columbus. The two question Columbus about his treatment of the native Taíno people he met along the way. Fictional Columbus conveniently leaves out that human captives were aboard his ship to display to his king and queen. He stated, “Being taken as a slave is better than being killed, no? I don’t see the problem,” and chalked slavery up as “no big deal” and something that the people of the 21st century have no right to judge him on. Fictional Columbus ends his episode by distastefully joking with the children: “Let me lock you up and show you to the king and queen.” The children conclude that Columbus was not a villain and the adverse reports about him come from those he competed with.
PragerU depicts many historical characters whose images are used to spew information contradicting what they believed or advocated for. For example, abolitionist Fredrick Douglas is depicted saying that while slavery was wrong and evil, it was a compromise to “achieve something great.” Jessica Wright, a former teacher and the current Florida Freedom to Read Project vice president, calls PragerU a logical fallacy. A logical fallacy means that the material shown might make sense, but anyone adequately educated on the subject would conclude that it is not based on fact.
The approved PragerU curriculum also includes a video titled “How to Embrace your Femininity.” This video tells women to “embrace the idea of being a wife or a mother. And allow yourself to stay at home to raise your children.” The narrator also states that women should not be afraid to “fit stereotypes” and shows a video of a woman vacuuming her home. The second part of the video is the most beneficial for young Oklahomans who are behind in all aspects of education. It reminds women that “the most beautiful thing God has created is a woman’s smile,” and they are encouraged to “just try smiling.” Women are told to learn how to engage with others and bring joy to those around them. Finally, women must “be positive and look for the beauty in life” and, most importantly, “stay grateful and encouraging.” One can only hope that this insightful information will help increase a young girl’s likelihood that she can proficiently read and solve equations by the time she is in high school.
While Walters has approved PragerU to teach in schools, teachers are not required to use it. Tulsa teacher Gabe Woolley has already used the videos and showed the Christopher Columbus episode to his fifth-grade social studies students. While these videos are not mandatory, Oklahoma history teacher Cole Roberts is concerned: “I do fear that, by legitimizing this and putting it on the state’s website as resources to use, you will find teachers that are ignorant as to what PragerU is that are going to unknowingly use their materials in class and go, ‘oh, it’s approved by the state, I’m just going to use this.’ ” Parents are also concerned about the potential use of PragerU in their children’s education. Adam Soltani, who has two children in the Oklahoma school system, acknowledges that while Walters is trying to prevent indoctrination from the far left, he is also promoting the indoctrination by Denis Prager, someone with a very narrow understanding of world history. While large school districts, including Tulsa and Oklahoma City, do not intend to adopt PragerU officially, teachers are free to use the material.
Ultimately, Walters is so focused on keeping the left agenda out of schools that he is allowing students to fall far behind in all areas of education. “We have to get back to a point,” he said, “where young people understand… the free market and individual liberty and the Judeo-Christian values of our founders.” These statements come from the same man who believes racism had nothing to do with the Tulsa Race Massacre. While PragerU “educates” Oklahoma’s children on how to fit into their prescribed gender roles and provides them with historical misinformation, they will be academically disadvantaged from their peers who have access to proper education that is not funneled through a conservative media group focused on indoctrination.

Post Author: Isabella Musollino