Not long after Florida adopted new curriculum standards for middle school-level Black history courses — which received bipartisan backlash for its instruction on the “benefits” of slavery — an animated video went viral online. The video, called “Leo & Layla Meet Frederick Douglass” featured a cartoon version of the abolitionist telling a pair of child time-travelers that slavery was a “compromise” between the Founding Fathers and the Southern colonies.
The video spread across social media platforms and sparked widespread outrage after being identified as an example of the new instructional material available to Florida teachers for classroom teaching as part of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) war on manufactured “wokeism” in Florida classrooms. Around the time that the new curriculum standards were enacted, Florida’s Education Department announced a new partnership with the far-right advocacy group that produced the Frederick Douglass cartoon: PragerU.
PragerU is not an accredited academic institution but rather a right-wing activist group best known for revisionist U.S. history propaganda videos and other far-right content. It was founded in 2009 by conservative radio host Dennis Prager and has long been at the forefront of Republican efforts to shove fake culture wars into public school classrooms alongside other far-right groups like Moms For Liberty. Florida announced its partnership with PragerU in July, meaning that videos produced for “PragerU Kids” can be used to supplement civics and government lessons in Florida schools.
Oklahoma just announced that it is doing the same. The partnership was announced by Oklahoma’s State Superintendent Ryan Walters, a far-right figure who is best known for claiming that race was not a component of the Tulsa Race Massacre. He’s also made headlines for his ties to Moms For Liberty and for comparing teachers’ unions to terrorists.
“This expansion of our availability resources will help ensure high quality materials rich in American History and values will be available to our teachers and students. We will work together to find ways for PragerU to create content that will enrich the education of Oklahoma student,” Walters said upon announcing the “PragerU Kids” partnership.
Oklahoma educators have access to the materials as of today. PragerU provided it to Oklahoma schools for free and the far-right group reportedly intends to expand its partnerships to Texas, as well.
While the Frederick Douglass cartoon got the most attention recently, PragerU has been producing conservative propaganda for years, including videos that deny climate change and promote Christian nationalism. In scrolling through the “PragerU Kids” page, you can find videos on topics like friendship bracelets and studying for tests. But there’s also … this, per the Daily Beast:
Not all of PragerU Kids’ material has an overt political leaning, but their educational value is questionable. Some of those videos reviewed by The Daily Beast included titles such as First Responder Friendship Bracelets, How To Embrace Your Masculinity, and How To Take Care of an American Flag.
Others were akin to outright American nationalism, including titles such as How To Be a Rational Patriot. That 10-minute video explains how America “is more than a place on a map, it’s a set of values stemming from Judeo-Christian principles.”
“America is one of the freest countries on the face of the planet,” the video says. “One million people request to immigrate to the U.S. every year because they know how amazing America is. The opportunities in this country are limitless, and the quality of life is better than it’s ever been throughout human history.”
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