AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Democratic members of the State Board of Education stood with educational and civil rights leaders at the Texas Capitol Tuesday to denounce the proposed use of curriculum designed by PragerU, a nonprofit media company that, among other things, designs learning materials for children.
PragerU identifies itself as “the world’s leading conservative nonprofit that is focused on changing minds through the creative use of digital media.”
State Board of Education member Aicha Davis called their material “misleading and false.”
“We are committed to working with students and families throughout Texas to prevent the infiltration of radical political ideologies into our public education system,” Davis said.
The discussion comes as some conservative Texas leaders, including Gov. Greg Abbott, have accused public schools of “indoctrinating” children with “liberal” material.
In his inauguration speech at the beginning of this year, Abbott said, “we must remember this: our schools are for education, not indoctrination. Schools should not push social agendas. They must focus on fundamentals.”
Concern over PragerU announcement
PragerU released a video last week alongside conservative SBOE member Julie Pickren, claiming “Texas is the latest state to welcome our PragerUkids educational initiative into their schools.” That is not yet true as the State Board of Education must approve it before it is added to a list of instruction materials teachers can use. The group that gathered Tuesday said it hoped to preempt that possibility.
“This is a gross overstep of responsibility … there is a fundamental misunderstanding by our colleagues when it comes to what our role is in education,” SBOE member Marisa Perez-Diaz said. She described PragerU’s announcement as a standalone action by Pickren.
“We were surprised and shocked by what our colleague was doing,” SBOE member Melissa Ortega said. “We do not endorse this and we will not be having this come to Texas.”
In the video, Pickren says “We are definitely ready to welcome PragerU into the great state of Texas.” She then goes on to talk about a separate effort the state is working on to provide a “core knowledge curriculum” for teachers.
KXAN reached out to Pickren for her response to her colleague’s claims, as well as why she believes PragerU is a good option for supplemental material.
The Texas American Federation of Teachers called the PragerU material “utterly worthless,” and said it is worried it does not fulfill the minimum standards for education required by the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.
“PragerU is nothing more than a propaganda machine and has no place in Texas public schools,” Texas AFT’s Kelsey King said.
PragerU said it is “a free alternative to the dominant left-wing ideology in culture, media, and education.”
Nexstar has reached out to PragerU and will update this article with their response. Check back here for updates throughout the day.