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Mounds View High School's student news site.

The Viewer

Mounds View High School's student news site.

The Viewer

Mounds View High School's student news site.

The Viewer

[OPINION] PragerU does not belong in schools

Florida’s recent approval of PragerU educational materials for schools sets a dangerous precedent of misinformation in schools
Wikimedia Commons
Dennis Prager, conservative talk show host and founder of PragerU

Contrary to what the name suggests, PragerU is not a university, but rather a right-wing, borderline conspiratorial media outlet. Founded by conservative talk show host and writer Dennis Prager, PragerU seeks to push an exclusively conservative agenda, providing an alternative to the “woke, Marxist” media of CNN, MSNBC and the majority of American universities.

This summer, the Florida Board of Education approved PragerU Kids videos for classroom instruction in an attempt to, in the words of Governor Ron DeSantis, “stand for education, not indoctrination, in [Florida] schools.” 

Since then, Oklahoma, Montana and New Hampshire have approved PragerU educational materials for public schools, allowing teachers to use these materials without the approval of a school board.

PragerU began expanding by developing content specifically geared towards kids in 2020. Their most popular — and controversial — series, Leo & Layla’s History Adventures, follows siblings Leo and Layla as they travel back in time to meet important historical figures, who are often blatantly misrepresented. 

In one video, the siblings meet abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who claims the founding fathers compromised and allowed slavery to continue “to achieve something great.” He concludes that the end of slavery should occur gradually to prevent an onslaught of conflict and criticizes radicals who seek to end it sooner via force.

Yet, the actual works of Douglass reveal a different attitude towards the institution of slavery. In his famous “What, to the Slave, Is the Fourth of July?” speech, Douglass exposes the hypocrisy of the American people, who celebrate the freedom enshrined in the Constitution while defending the institution of slavery. Douglass’ supposed regard for the Constitution and the law deteriorates further when one considers that he defied the law by escaping from slavery. Additionally, Douglass was a major John Brown fanboy, famously claiming, “[Brown’s] zeal in the cause of freedom was infinitely superior to mine,” proving that Douglass was, contrary to his PragerU persona, a proponent of radicalism.

In other videos, PragerU takes a different approach; instead of cherry-picking historical information and mischaracterizing historical figures, they outright lie. For example, in another video, Leo and Layla travel back to 1493 to chat with Christopher Columbus about why Columbus Day is being replaced by Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and the video contains major inaccuracies. For example, Columbus claims he ordered his men to treat the indigenous people of Haiti well, when in reality, the Spaniards killed and brutally enslaved the natives soon after Columbus’ arrival. 

The most concerning aspect of PragerU materials is their deviation from what should be the primary goal of education: enhancing critical thinking. There is no doubt that our current education system fails to truly promote critical thinking, but with learning objectives like “appreciate America’s history and dedication to freedom,” PragerU lesson plans do not even try to hide their inclination towards indoctrination. It is hypocritical for a government that criticizes the supposed indoctrination of public schools to promote the far more apparent and dangerous brainwashing of PragerU. 

Of course, there are merits to teaching students to love America, or at least to be grateful for our Constitutional freedoms and the sacrifices made to secure those freedoms. Creating a generation of citizens who are motivated to solve our country’s problems requires students to feel invested in America.

Additionally, the unending culture war is fueling a surge of misinformation about education, so it’s understandable that parents have concerns about current public school curriculum.

But this is no excuse for the dishonesty and deception of PragerU’s educational materials. America’s students deserve thoughtful and inspiring lessons that emphasize a multi-perspective mindset, not poorly crafted videos that propagate misinformation.

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About the Contributor
Maya Gjelhaug
Maya Gjelhaug, Print Editor-in-Chief
My name is Maya, and I'm excited to be one of your print Editors-in-Chief this year. When I'm not editing articles, you can find me mountain biking and watching Band of Brothers with my dad. Awards: Best of SNO - Mounds View Theater casting sparks controversy Best of SNO - The downfall of ELA education Best of SNO - Pro-life activists rally against Minnesota abortion legislation Best of SNO - Prince of Peace Church combats homelessness with tiny home settlement Best of SNO - Should legacy admissions still exist? 2nd-Place Gold Medallion Spread - Youth sports culture SNO Site Excellence Design Award SNO Page Excellence Award
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  • J

    James PiñaDec 22, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I mean, I kinda understand this argument, but it’s ultimately circular.

  • B

    Ben ShapiroDec 15, 2023 at 9:58 am

    Omg queen. Ur so right. ? Dennis Prager should stay in his lane. Periodt gurl. Slay. Gaslight. Girlboss. Gatekeep.