Oklahoma State Department of Education partners with PragerU

PragerU characterizes its own materials as indoctrination.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters announced on Sept. 5 that the Oklahoma State Department of Education has partnered with PragerU Kids to “ensure high-quality materials rich in American history and values will be available to our teachers and students.”
PragerU, a conservative media organization and not an actual university, describes itself as “a free alternative to the dominant left-wing ideology in culture, media, and education” that attempts to counter “radical ideas about gender, race and anti-Americanism.” Its co-founder, Dennis Prager, stated in July 2023 that his organization seeks to “indoctrinat[e]” children.
In a statement released after Walters’ announcement, PragerU said that Oklahoma students “will have the opportunity to learn from PragerU’s wholesome, patriotic and age-appropriate content.” Walters expressed that he “could not be more excited to get [PragerU’s] content in our classrooms… so the kids can know the principles this country was founded on.”
PragerU has received widespread criticism from scholars and community advocates for promoting ideological propaganda, misinformation and sanitized history. For example, a PragerU Kids video entitled “How to Embrace Your Femininity” suggests, among other things, that gender stereotypes simply “reflect the way that men and women are naturally different” and that women should “just try smiling” because “one of the most beautiful things God has created is a woman’s smile.” Another video entitled “How to Embrace Your Masculinity” suggests that to be masculine, men must be financially and mentally independent and physically strong in case they have to “sav[e] a damsel in distress.”
In another video, an animated Christopher Columbus characterizes the pre-colonial Americas as not “exactly a paradise of civilization” and describes indigenous Caribbeans as “vicious warring cannibals.” The Columbus character also states that “slavery is as old as time and has taken place in every corner of the world, even amongst [indigenous Caribbeans]. Being taken as a slave is better than being killed, no? I don’t see the problem.” Further, Columbus tells his audience that “before you judge, you must ask yourself, what did the culture and society of the time treat as no big deal?”
In other videos regarding slavery, a fictional Booker T. Washington falsely claims that the United States “was one of the first places on Earth to outlaw slavery” and that President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation “made slavery illegal in the South just as it had been in the North.” The Washington character also says that he “hate[s] slavery… but it’s been a reality everywhere in the world” and that despite his enslavement, he is “still so proud and thankful to be an American.” Additionally, a fictional Frederick Douglass describes American slavery as a kind of necessary evil, declaring that he is “certainly not OK with slavery, but the founding fathers make a compromise to achieve something great—the making of the United States.”
In response to Oklahoma’s partnership with PragerU, the Oklahoma Education Association stated: “OEA continues to believe that curriculum offered in Oklahoma classrooms should meet the high standards set by our local education professionals… [I]t is deeply concerning that the State Department of Education would even endorse this unvetted, non-evidence-based material to be able to reach students in Oklahoma.”
In contrast to Walters’ excitement over Oklahoma’s partnership with PragerU, school districts across the state are less eager to adopt the organization’s materials. Tulsa Public Schools stated that it has “not reviewed PragerU as a curriculum resource and [has] no plans to alter the curricular selection process that [it] follow[s] when adopting and implementing new curriculum.” Union Public Schools announced that PragerU would not enter its classrooms because “[i]t does not meet the standard.” Jenks Public Schools stated: “An agreement between the State Department of Education and an external vendor does not change anything about how our materials are selected, approved, or implemented.” Several other school districts have released similar statements. Should a school district implement PragerU materials, parents and guardians can opt their children out of receiving such materials.
Oklahoma is now the second state to broadly approve PragerU content for public classrooms, following Florida’s decision to designate the organization’s content as “supplemental” curricula this July. On Sept. 15, New Hampshire approved PragerU’s financial literacy curriculum for public schools. Currently, Texas is considering partnering with PragerU but has not yet made an official decision.

Post Author: Alex Thomason