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OK State Dept. of Ed. announces partnership with PragerU Kids, districts respond

Ryan Walters
Posted at 11:51 AM, Sep 05, 2023

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — The Oklahoma State Department of Education announced Sept. 5 a partnership with PragerU Kids.

PragerU defines itself as "a free alternative to the dominant left-wing ideology in culture, media, and education."

PragerU is not an official university, nor does it offer degrees or certifications.

“I am thrilled to announce this partnership with PragerU,” said State Superintendent Ryan Walters. “This expansion of our available 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 students.”

In the OSDE press release, the department called the content "entertaining and pro-American kids."

The press release didn't detail how or if the content would be incorporated in Oklahoma schools. The OSDE website now has a section with links to the PragerU Kids content.

In 2023, Florida became the first state to partner with the program as an official school vendor. It's unclear if Oklahoma is working with PragerU in the same official vendor capacity based on the OSDE press release.

The Oklahoma Department of Education told 2 News Oklahoma that the partnership "results in no cost to the State."

The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK) shared a press release on Wednesday; calling on Walters to "reject" the partnership due to "anti-Muslim" content.

2 News Oklahoma spoke with the Executive Director, Adam Soltani.

"We definitely do not want to see public schools engaging in what seems to be a very skewed, and slanted presentation of information," said Soltani.

2 News reached out to nearby school districts to ask how PragerU will impact the school's curriculum.

Here are the responses:

BROKEN ARROW: The announcement from State Superintendent Walters regarding the PragerU Kids curriculum was new information for our district leadership team yesterday. Thus far we have not received any information that clarifies a state-wide plan for this content, so it is our assumption that this would be a matter of local control. In Broken Arrow Public Schools, we have already adopted and implemented a social studies curriculum that meets our needs. Thanks for the chance to provide a comment. Hope you’re doing well.
BIXBY: It appears you're referring to a recent announcement made by the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OKSDE) regarding their decision to partner with PragerU as a resource for teachers. It's important to us as a district to critically evaluate any educational resources to ensure they meet our specific educational goals, align with the Oklahoma Academic Standards and foster a balanced and objective learning environment. As with all readily available and often free online resources, we advise our teachers to ensure any content they utilize in their classroom is aligned to the Oklahoma Academic Standards, unbiased, and age appropriate. BPS has no plans to change our curricular practices based on the OKSDE’s announcement of this partnership.

SUPERINTENDENT EMAIL TO STAFF: I find it a bit disconcerting to email you for a second day to explain our district's response to an SDE action. However, it is essential to keep these discussions open to be better able to keep our focus where it needs to be - our students. Let me be clear - this week's announcement from Supt Walters endorsing the use of PragerU in Oklahoma schools doesn't change a thing. Materials from this organization have been available for years on their website and through their YouTube channel. This official endorsement from the SDE simply allows for posting information and links on the SDE webpage as well. Our district has never suggested, asked, or directed teachers to use these materials, and we never will. Here's the bottom line. I trust you to do what's best for your students. I am confident that you and all of our teachers are instructing students using the state-approved Oklahoma Academic Standards (OAS) as your guide. The resources you select to teach those standards should be either from the district-adopted textbooks and supplemental materials or from other resources aligned with your content standards. You know your students best and how to make your instruction meaningful, relevant, and effective. In short, keep doing what you're already doing.
UNION: Union will not be utilizing the PragerU content. It does not meet our standard.
OWASSO: Owasso Public Schools will continue to use its current curriculum, which has gone through a strenuous, collaborative review process and is aligned with the Oklahoma state academic standards. We are happy with the process that we have in place for selecting and approving curriculum and have no plans to add additional curriculum at this time.
MUSKOGEE: Our curriculum directors have not had time to review PragerU content or make a determination about its possible implementation.
JENKS: Jenks Public Schools will continue to use our current curriculum and approved resources aligned to state standards that are approved by the Oklahoma State Legislature. JPS is constantly offered curriculum resources from a variety of vendors and organizations from around the country. We have no plans to change course from our current materials. We will continue to follow our process for reviewing and selecting classroom materials while teaching to the Oklahoma state standards.

2 News will continue to learn more about how this will impact Oklahoma students.

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