Florida says it doesn’t want indoctrination in schools — but look at the materials it just approved

We know what Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and his allies in the state legislature don’t want students to learn in public school classrooms — but here’s what the state just approved for use in classrooms: material created by a nonprofit advocacy organization called PragerU, which says it offers “a free alternative to the dominant left-wing ideology in culture, media, and education.”

The materials include videos, magazines and books that in some cases disparage the Black Lives Matter movement, deny that police unfairly target Blacks, question the impact of human use of fossil fuels on the environment, and call out “climate alarmism.” There are videos on “How to Embrace Your Femininity” and “How to Embrace Your Masculinity,” one on “How to Be a Rational Patriot” that says the United States was founded on “Judeo-Christian values,” and one under the categories of “Life Lessons and “Judeo-Christian values” called “How to Learn to Forgive.” Topics covered under the PragerU Kids banner are divided into categories for grades K-2, 3-5 and 6 and higher and are wide-ranging, including financial literacy, history, civics, character development and life lessons.

The move by the Florida Department of Education is the latest in the DeSantis administration’s efforts to dictate what teachers can say about specific topics. Laws now forbid teachers from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity and restrict what they can say about race and racism in the United States. The department banned an Advanced Placement (AP) class on African American studies and threw the use of an AP class on psychology into question because of discussions of race and gender, respectively. It has also censored textbooks and instructional materials, removing material it says is leftist indoctrination.

PragerU was founded in 2009 by conservative talk show host Dennis Prager and screenwriter/producer Allen Estrin and is promoted as being in the “mind-changing business.” It offers 2,600 videos on its YouTube channel and other materials on its website that it says are aimed at “promoting pro-American values,” some of which have been challenged by historians for accuracy.

Florida schools drop AP Psychology after state says it violates the law

PragerU CEO Marissa Streit said in an interview that PragerU material was originally designed for college-age students and adults, and some of that material is presented by well-known conservative voices including Tucker Carlson, Ben Shapiro, Candace Owens and George Will — though Streit said they aren’t part of videos on PragerU Kids’ materials. Historian Kevin M. Kruse published a thread on what was then called Twitter, in what he called a debunking of a PragerU video in which Owens declares that the Southern Strategy is a myth and “never happened.” (The Southern Strategy has been described as a Republican Party campaign beginning in the 1960s and ’70s to increase support in the South for leaders such as Richard M. Nixon by appealing to White Southerners’ racial grievances.)

Streit said PragerU leaders realized during the pandemic that more K-12 content could be helpful to parents and even schools. PragerU created what she called “edutainment” — short videos she said would grab the interest of K-12 students who may get bored with traditional lessons.

Spokeswoman Cassie Palelis confirmed that the Florida Department of Education had reviewed the material and “determined the material aligns to Florida’s revised civics and government standards.” She said that PragerU Kids lessons “can be used as supplemental materials in Florida schools at district discretion.” Streit said that other state departments of education are now reviewing the material for use in their schools. In Oklahoma, State Superintendent Ryan Walters said he has spoken with PragerU and that his team was reviewing its materials for use in classrooms. “I work very closely with the DeSantis administration about what it’s doing with education,” he said.

Florida Gov. DeSantis’s latest oxymoronic school spiel

Streit, echoing false claims by DeSantis and right-wing ideologues that public schools are bent on indoctrinating students with left-wing material, said: “The reason PragerU is trying to serve these schools is that the vast majority — 99.9999 percent — of curriculum and supplementary curriculum really teaches a one-sided perspective, and that is left-wing indoctrination.”

Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, pushed back on accusations that public schools are indoctrinating students and said PragerU has its own agenda. He said on Facebook, “The state of Florida wants to ban books, but they’re going to allow a politically motivated program with no educational value. It really goes to show where this administration’s priorities are. Their priorities are not with the education of my child and your children. Their priority is certainly a political one.”

He also said in a Facebook video: “Teachers aren’t pushing an agenda. They’re pushing to educate children. This is pushing an agenda.”

DeSantis has repeatedly said, “We want education, not indoctrination,” but Prager U does not shy away from the indoctrination label. The organization advertises itself on its website as being in the “mind-changing” business. Appearing on July 6 at a convention in Philadelphia held by the right-wing advocacy Moms For Liberty group, Prager said: “It’s true. We bring doctrines to children.”

Streit said the organization does aim at changing people’s minds. “I do believe that we should indoctrinate kids to appreciate their country and be grateful human beings and to treat all humans with kindness and dignity, and if I am a bad person for wanting to indoctrinate kids, then I don’t know what to say to you,” she said.

One of the approved PragerU Kids videos tells the story of a boy named Mateo whose parents emigrated from Mexico to escape cartels threatening their small business. It then goes on to explain that in May 2020, a Black man named George Floyd “who resisted arrest” died in the custody of police, an event that sparked “fiery protests” in cities around the country. “Activists claimed that the police were targeting the Black community and purposefully killing unarmed Black men,” the video says. “As false claims of racial targeting spread, so did the anger and violence.”

This is how the website describes the video: “Teach middle and high school kids how the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and anti-police sentiment affected crime, families, and small businesses in American cities.”

One video for Grades 6 and above is called “How to Deal With Anxiety” and is described this way: “Many young people today are struggling with anxiety. Why? Reasons range from social pressures to climate alarmism.” The narrator makes light of climate concerns, saying that young people may be anxious about “climate alarmists” who say that the “Earth will be gone in 12 years.” A brief skit shows the narrator asking a student what he is studying, and the student says, “Well, we are all going to die in 12 years anyways. First the polar bears, then the people living in England, then us.” The narrator responds, “No need to panic. People have been saying that for decades.”

Another video, titled, Poland: Ania’s Energy Crisis,” is described on the website as saying, “Kids are told to fight climate change but are rarely taught about the human costs of reducing emissions.”

All the ways Ron DeSantis is trying to rewrite Black history

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge, Black Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge, Black Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.

This post was originally published on this site