FFRF castigates Ariz. school system partnership with propagandistic PragerU

The flag of Arizona: an orange star in the middle. Bottom half is blue and the top half is red-and-yellow rays from the star.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is lambasting the top Arizona education official’s recent decision to partner state schools with a constitutionally suspect and academically dubious outfit.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne has made an irresponsible decision to team up with PragerU Kids — meaning that its materials will now be allowed in Arizona’s public schools. It is important to note that “PragerU” is not a university or academic institution, does not confer degrees, was founded by a conservative radio talk show host, and deceitfully uses a name that implies otherwise. It is little more than a glorified YouTube Channel lacking academic credentials and its declared purpose is to promote “Judeo-Christian values.”

PragerU CEO Marissa Streit has described the supposed reasoning behind the controversial partnership:
In Arizona in particular, it has been a battleground because people have really become very aware and very upset about what has happened educationally over there. … They have been horrified by the curriculum and the efforts the teachers unions have, you know, suffocated kids with their left-wing agenda.

She also explained that she “believe[s] in book banning” and perpetuated the lie that students are being given pornography in schools. Streit continued: “So, by having Superintendent Horne step in and say, ‘This is okay. This is endorsed. This is blessed. Go ahead and use it,’ I think it’s encouraging.”

PragerU and its content belongs nowhere near a public school classroom, FFRF emphasizes. The videos that are used as a part of this curriculum are little more than YouTube productions that spew propaganda and misleading or outright incorrect information. Dennis Prager, the founder of PragerU and PragerU Kids, has even admitted that PragerU’s ideologically driven propaganda videos are a form of “indoctrination.” For example, PragerU teaches that the gender wage gap is a myth; it is not. It downplays the history of slavery and minimizes climate change, which is a fact. It regularly rails against feminism and immigrants. Given the fact that one-third of Arizona’s population is Latino, it is particularly insensitive, inappropriate and insulting to welcome PragerU into Arizona schools. Its videos rely on the audience’s ignorance, presenting a heavily slanted view on culture-war issues couched as objective fact.

“Despite your title of Superintendent of Public Instruction, you are doing a disservice to the public school students you are supposed to serve,” FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor write to Horne. “Bringing PragerU propaganda into classrooms across the state undermines the public education system that you are supposed to protect and miseducates Arizona public school students, leaving them ill-equipped to eventually compete in a global market prioritizing science and critical thinking skills.”

Americans who value the benefits of public education free from actual indoctrination know that a key to effective learning is a classroom experience that encourages critical thinking and relies on academically vetted instruction approved by objectively decreed educators — rather than on Christian nationalist opinions. PragerU, by the admission of its founder and its current CEO, runs counter to those principles. It is an ideologically motivated, biased propaganda machine that does not belong in classrooms.

That’s why the Freedom From Religion Foundation is urging the Arizona Board of Education to quash the egregious partnership between its public schools and PragerU — and ensure that the state’s students are educated, not indoctrinated.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with over 40,000 members and several chapters across the country, including more than 1,000 members and a regional chapter in Arizona. FFRF works to protect the constitutional separation between state and church and educates about nontheism.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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